This spring the MWT Language and Education department directors Jennifer Weston and Nitana Greendeer collaborated to deliver a ten-part professional learning series for educators in all three Mashpee public schools. More than two dozen teachers and administrators from Coombs, Quahsnet, and Mashpee Middle and High School participated throughout the professional development program held each Thursday afternoon 4-5 p.m. from April 5 through June 14.
Sessions included topics like "Teaching a Wampanoag Language and Culture Based Curriculum: A Year Round Framework based on Tribal Traditions and Homelands," which incorporated the work of the tribal teachers at Mukayuhsak Weekuw (The Children's House) immersion preschool and kindergarten classrooms at the MWT Community and Government Center. Teachers also were treated to film screenings and producer discussions for "Mashpee Nine: The Beat Goes On" and "We Still Live Here: Âs Nutayuneân." In addition to culture based education strategies and practices, additional sessions provided overviews of historical and contemporary tribal governance, land rights, and Native civil rights. Key concepts reviewed throughout the series included treaties and treaty rights, tribal citizenship, and tribal sovereignty.
Weston developed the series in response to a request from Superintendent Patricia DeBoer after Vice Chairwoman's three presentations on "The Mashpee Wampanoag: A Brief Sketch of Our History and Who We Are Today" were so well received at each of the local schools. MPS educators also had the chance to review original Wôpanâak language documents with linguists Greendeer and Baird, and to learn about the history of literacy among Wampanoag leadership and families beginning in the 17th century.
All presentations and materials are archived in a Google classroom for MPS educators and school committee members, and early planning is underway to implement a new series -- potentially incorporating hands-on curriculum development activities -- for the upcoming academic year.