PEMBROKE — Two participants in UNC Pembroke’s First Americans’ Educational Leadership program were among presenters at the 2021 National Indian Education Association Convention in Omaha, Nebraska held Oct. 13-16.
Lakola Cook, a 2021 graduate, and Rodrick Bartley, a Master of School Administration student, presented their work on teaching the Good Medicine Bundle — a resource from the educational initiative, Operation Prevention, created by the Drug Enforcement Administration and Discovery Education.
The 2021 NIEA Convention theme, Native Control of Native Education: A Time to Lead, “recognizes that, through our collective efforts, we can enact educational sovereignty to transform learning experiences for our Native students and create true equity in classrooms, school districts and communities.”
Cook and Bartley piloted the lessons in an interactive experience to explore the Good Medicine Bundles and culture-based approaches to wellness and substance misuse prevention.
Cook and Bartley were among four Public Schools of Robeson County educators featured in the Good Medicine Bundle resources Master Class series, a professional development tool accessible for educators nationwide. NIEA partnered with Discovery Education—a worldwide edtech leader—and the Drug Enforcement Administration to develop free culture-based lessons for Operation Prevention. The Culture-Based Prevention Resources provide digital and hands-on resources for educators to help American Indian Communities avoid the dangers of substance misuse.
According to the CDC, “On average, 130 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose. Over time, the number of overdose deaths has increased, including among American Indian and Alaska Native people.”
As opioid and substance misuse is dangerously prevalent in Native communities, this partnership was designed to utilize Native values of wellness and community to teach all students how to make better choices and support each other.
“Participating in the Good Medicine Bundle has been a highlight of my career. Serving in a tri-fold event as a parent, teacher and student with NIEA has broadened my understanding of the balance of education, culture and equity. It was an honor to be asked to participate and teach my students valuable insights of opioid prevention with indigenous relevance,” said Cook as she reflected upon her experiences.
“The relationships made with my students, NIEA and DEA has empowered me to move forward as a transformational leader in education. I look forward to what all this program brings for generations to come,” she added.
Bartley stated, “The Good Medicine Bundle was a great resource to introduce to our young students, especially our Native American students. Our Native students are facing many challenges in our rural county, including the opioid crisis.
“The Good Medicine Bundle is a proactive way to teach our students different coping strategies to overcome the challenges of today by instilling some of our Native American core values. The core values, such as talking circles, are a great way to get insight from all students and give them their voice. Teaching the lessons in the Good Medicine Bundle was a great way for me to reflect on my teaching and leadership, and I now have a better understanding of the importance of cultural leadership. This bundle has allowed me to become more of a transformational leader,” Bartley added.
“The FAEL Project has emphasized with program participants the importance of being culturally responsive and bringing transformational approaches to leadership when working with Native American communities. Lakola and Rodrick did an amazing job presenting their work at the NIEA Convention and illustrated the successful implementation of these practices with their schools and community during their presentation,” said Dr. Camille Goins, FAEL project director.
To learn more about the resources and to view the master class videos of the featured presenters, visit the Operation Prevention resource page at https://www.operationprevention.com/culture-based-resources#masterclass.
The FAEL project is funded by a five-year, $1.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to address the shortage of American Indian administrators in the state’s public school districts with a large American Indian student population.