Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Project Receives Grants to Expand Immersion School
WLRP has been awarded a $299,519 Esther Martinez Initiative grant from the Administration for Native Americans for its proposal, "The Mukayuhsak Weekuw (Children's House) Expansion Project." Project funding, which started July 1st, will be followed by similar awards over the next two years as WLRP adds new school staff and grade levels to offer language immersion instruction from preschool through Grade 4 by the 2021-2022 academic year.
During the 2019-2020 school year, up to 30 students will attend preschool through Grade 2, with incoming federal funds supporting the training and hiring of a new full-time teacher assistant, as well as a part-time school wellness counselor, and a part-time Head of School, or principal. WLRP's current team identified these pressing needs during spring grant planning sessions, and with the support of its board of directors. In addition, nearly all Mukayuhsak Weekuw families have re-enrolled their children for the fall, with many expressing the desire for their students to stay at the tribally operated private school for future grade levels. Last year, Mukayuhsak Weekuw served 25 total students ages 2-7 in its preschool through first grade classrooms.
In response to the community demand for student slots, WLRP is now adding a brand new dedicated lower elementary classroom this fall to accommodate students in first and second grade. The new Wôpessori, or Wôpanâak language Montessori classroom, will be led by language teacher Siobhan Brown who is completing her Montessori elementary teacher training at the Montessori Education Teacher Training Center in Lexington, MA. The new classroom will be housed in a 700 square foot all-weather yurt, currently under construction by White Mountain Yurts of New Hampshire. Private foundation grants from the Bloomfield Foundation and Keepers of the Earth Fund at Cultural Survival, as well as private donations, have made classroom construction possible.
WLRP was also awarded training funds in the amount of $48,176 in December 2018 by the First Nations Development Institute to support language teacher training, literacy materials, and school expansion planning throughout the 2019-2020 academic year, and a new 2019 grant was also just awarded on July 15th, to supplement the Mukayuhsak Weekuw school expansion project and to support family immersion camps. First Nation funding also supports college preparation for language teacher Tia Pocknett who will be enrolling in Goddard College in Vermont this fall, as she prepares to offer future Wôpessori instruction at the school beyond fourth grade.
WLRP, a 501c3 nonprofit organization, operates Mukayuhsak Weekuw (The Children's House) with support from its four member tribes (Mashpee, Herring Pond, Aquinnah, and Assonet), and employs 7 full-time teachers -- two of whom also teach Wôpanâak language in Mashpee Public Schools. The school rents space from the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe in the Community and Government center and adjacent to the powwow field for its 3 language classrooms.