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Early Childhood Education (ECE)

Project descriptions of American Indian ECE sites designed to assist with reading-language arts, math, and self-esteem for American Indian children in prekindergarten through grade four.

The American Indian Early Childhood Education (AIECE) Program, California Department of Education, began in the 1970s. It is designed to develop and test educational models that increase competence in reading, language arts, mathematics, and self-esteem for American Indian children in pre-kindergarten through grade four. Funds are designated for schools with at least 10 percent American Indian students, and they are allocated through a competitive process for three-year cycles. There are seven counties participating in the program for Fiscal year (FY) 2015–16.

AIECE Program Directory

A directory of the seven FY 2015–16 California AIECE sites with project descriptions is below.

Butte County

Butte County Office of Education
Four Winds School
Terri Tozier, Principal
2345 Fair Street
Chico, CA 95928
Phone: 530-879-7411; Fax: 530-879-7414

Hem’nom Uji (Maidu word for House of Knowledge) is the title of the American Indian Early Education Childhood Program. It focuses on family, home, school, community, and learning which are vital to the academic and personal success of American Indian children. Hem’nom Uji represents a shared vision and collaborative commitment between the Butte County Office of Education and Four Winds Indian Education Center. The program supports both the academic and personal success of American Indian students in Kindergarten through grade three that attend Four Winds School. The program provides quality educational services to American Indian children in reaching their full potential as learners. Also, it helps parents become full partners in the education of their children.

The primary goal of Hem’nom Uji is to increase academic competence in reading, language arts, mathematics, and self-esteem of American Indian children by recognizing academic and cultural needs, providing highly-qualified teachers, implementing a rigorous and relevant standards-aligned curriculum, utilizing research-based, and effective instructional strategies. The program currently serves 35 American Indian children.

Imperial County

San Pasqual Valley Unified School District
San Pasqual Valley Elementary School
Kish Curtis, Coordinator
676 Baseline Road, Route 1
Winterhaven, CA 92283
Phone: 760-572-0222

San Pasqual Valley Unified School District currently uses the American Indian Early Childhood Education monies to assist with the Pre-Kindergarten program. The prekindergarten program is committed to developing strong partnerships with parents and preparing its children socially, emotionally and academically. Prior to the start of the school year, the fully credentialed, multiple subject teacher meets individually with each family to review expectations and answer any questions. During the school year parent trainings are offered in vocabulary development, child development, and kindergarten readiness. The program currently serves 24 students.

Kings County

Central Union School District
Central Union Elementary School
Nancy Davis, Principal
15783 18thAvenue
Lemoore, CA 93245
Phone: 559-924-7797
Fax: 559-924-0919

The Central Union project serves Native American students from Kindergarten through Fourth Grade, identified as needing reading support based upon various assessment tools used to determine reading aptitudes. The essential program functions are to support, supplement, and extend the classroom reading instruction, to diagnose the reading skills of the Kindergarten through fourth grade Native American students, and to use research based reading material to provide reading support and advancement of reading achievement. Program services and supports are delivered by a certificated Reading Specialist who provides direct instruction to targeted Native American students as well as support to classroom teachers in the implementation of Common Core literacy instruction. In addition to support during the regular school day, the Reading Specialist also serves as a supervisor for the support staff in delivering a daily afterschool program for Native American students selected to participate in the afterschool reading support intervention.


Happy Camp Union Elementary School District
Happy Camp Elementary School
Casey Chambers, Superintendent/Principal
114 Park Way
Happy Camp, CA 96039
Phone: 530-493-2267

Happy Camp Elementary School is a small, rural school, deep in the Klamath National Forest in Siskiyou County. Since the decline of the logging industry, our town has suffered severe economic hardship, and as a result over 90 percent of students qualify for free and reduced lunch. Of the 122 students enrolled, seventy-five students identify as Native American. Our AIECE program strives to give our American Indian, mostly Karuk, children additional resources to help them learn and succeed.

Our program focuses on our Kindergarten through fourth grade. We have a full-time aide, and several part-time aides, who work in the classrooms giving Native students academic support. These same aides also provide additional playground supervision, acting as social coaches for students who need that assistance. While the main goal of our AIECE program is to improve our student’s academic skills, we try to do that through infusion of cultural resources. We purchased a supplemental Reading/Language Arts Program called Nanu’avaha, which uses Karuk stories and culture in every lesson. Lastly our grant focuses on professional growth. With over 60 percent Native American students, we want to have our staff learn the best teaching strategies for increasing the achievement of these students.

Tuolumne County

Summerville Elementary School District
Harriet Whitmer, Director
18451 Carter Street
Tuolumne, CA 95379
Phone: 209-928-4291
Fax: 209-928-1601

The purpose of the program is to support educational and culturally related needs of Native American students. The program serves Kindergarten through fourth grade students during the school day with Reading and Language Arts, in Title I. Pre-kindergarten students will also be served during the school day but separately. There is an after school homework program that supports students with all homework and small group tutoring in reading, language arts and math. We have a Rancheria nearby that extends invitations to cultural events during and after school throughout the year. Our program continues to evolve to help meet the needs of our students with positive interactions with those around them, educationally, culturally, and socially.

Trinity County

Trinity County Office of Education
Tim Nordstrom, Indian Education Coordinator
P.O. Box 1256
201 Memorial Drive
Weaverville, CA 96093
Phone: 530-623-2861

The program serves 85 children, Kindergarten through fourth grade in three school districts. Trinity County's AIECE program increases the visibility of the local American Indian community, enhances the presence of the rich native culture, and builds pride and respect. Goals include enhancing self-esteem in students and adults by providing cultural support and activities, and improving student achievement through strategic intervention.

Each site provides tutorial assistance in reading, language arts and math. Cultural activities for students and their families are held during and after school and at Family Nights. An annual countywide Tribal Villages Celebration honors local elders and tribal member’s increases awareness. This event targets all Trinity County 3rd and 4th grade students and their teachers and provides authentic activities aligned to California Core and to standards in the Visual and Performing Arts, Social Science-History, Science, and Reading/Language Arts. Ongoing professional development for participating staff members and parental involvement activities supplement and enhance the site programs. Trinity County Office of Education has created a curriculum resource guide for teachers that focuses on local American Indian topics, including standards-based activities.

Yuba County

Marysville Joint Unified School District
Dobbins Elementary School
Yuba-Feather Elementary School
James L. Carpenter, Director/Coordinator
1919 B Street
Marysville, CA 95901
Phone: 530-749-6196
Fax: 530-741-7840

The program in two elementary schools serves 83 children in preschool through fourth grade. The AIECE staff provides scholastic support and tutorial assistance for students and teachers in reading, language arts, and math. Culturally, the program has built a long and cherished tradition in honoring our American Indian community. In this way, the program fosters a sense of respect, appreciation, and pride. Along with a goal of academic success for students, the program also focuses on the goals of self-esteem and positive leadership from children and adults in our communities.

In the afternoons at both sites, the AIECE resource teacher conducts classes through an enrichment program for third and fourth grade students. Implementing the Child-to-Child educational model, American Indian students are provided a supportive and creative forum that focuses on many aspects of traditional and modern native culture. Within this model, the program utilizes language, visual arts, legends, puppetry, food, music, technology, science, nature, cooperative learning, and leadership to create fun, educational projects that foster deep conceptual understanding. The Child-to-Child philosophy of older students modeling for younger students permeates every feature of the program.

Questions:   Early Education and Support Division | 916-322-6233
Last Reviewed: Monday, November 23, 2015

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