AHA choices include Navajo language and culture – Albuquerque Public Schools


Posted: November 29, 2021

AHA choices include Navajo language and culture

The Atrisco Heritage Academy’s unique course includes field trips, mock trials, art exhibits, cooking and dining, shows, and a recent fashion show.

Note: Staff supporting New Mexico lawmakers visited schools as they prepared for the 2022 legislative session. We feature some of the schools and APS programs they learned about.

Atrisco Heritage Academy High School in southwest Albuquerque is committed to supporting student success. Much of this is achieved through various course options that keep students and their families engaged.

“This is really how we operate here,” says Irene Cisneros, Director of AHA. “There are always discussions about what is best for students and what we need to help them succeed in post-secondary education. “

Students can choose from a wide range of offerings that include culinary arts, legal studies, ethnic studies, career development clubs, and community parent-requested programs such as mariachi and baile folklórico, which pack the school’s performing arts center for performances.

Atrisco Heritage is also the only local school that currently has a full time Navajo language and culture instructor. “The students love that there is an Indigenous classroom,” says Mildred Chiquito, the class teacher, because I don’t just teach the language. I teach all the culture. Many families of children have moved to the city for work, and the children have become a bit disconnected from the cultural part. This opens up a lot of cultural ties with their homeland. “

Chiquito commutes for almost two hours each way from his home on the Navajo reservation to bring his language and culture to his class every day. “I live it every day and I bring my native values, my native teachings,” she says. “Children want to know. They are very curious and want to learn. They work together, and they help each other out, and when they see it in a school setting, they feel a little more comfortable.

Chiquito’s students are enthusiastic about participating in cultural activities and field trips, and sometimes his former students return to help and present to the class. The AHA Navajo Language and Culture Course currently has Navajo and Pueblo students, but is open to anyone wishing to learn. A recent outdoor lunchtime fashion show (watch the video below) allowed the class to share their culture with the rest of the school. The class explained the meaning and significance of many styles and clothing items, while special guest Autumn Montoya, Miss Indian New Mexico 2021, moderated.

Classified trips and other activities such as mock trials, art exhibitions, cooking and catering, and performances that take place outside of the traditional classroom setting, are a key part of keeping students interested. by the types of educational and professional options available to them after high school school.

“A lot of activities take place outside of the classroom. It’s really about asking ourselves how we engage our students in learning, so it’s a place they want to be, ”says Jessica Cano, bilingual teacher and coordinator.

Leadership and community involvement are also integral to the school, illustrated in part by the fact that AHA has both a teacher and a student on the board of directors of the Valle del Oro National Wildlife Refuge.

The diverse offering of courses, activities, and opportunities has helped AHA students succeed through graduation and after graduation. Dr Antonio Gonzales, Associate Superintendent for Leadership and Learning for Zone 2, said: “Atrisco Heritage can boast of having been, prior to the pandemic, the largest individual supplier to the University of New Mexico. , the largest flagship university in the state. an annual basis for at least two years. It is out of any public or private institution in New Mexico or out of state.

The dedication to student success is evident throughout the faculty and staff. “As long as you are here, you are my children,” Chiquito tells his students. “I am here to help you be successful, and I will do whatever I can to help you where you are at.”

Navajo language and culture is just one of the options available to APS students. Other Native American programs include Native American Government and Economy, Navajo Government and History, Reading and Math Intervention, Navajo and Zuni Languages, Distinguished Stoles and Seals Award, and the Salvation Program. graduation credits.

To learn more about Native American programs, visit the APS Indian Education website.

Video: Atrisco Heritage Academy Native American Fashion Show


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