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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 nine counties participating in the program for 2008-2009.

AIECE Program Directory

A directory of the nine 2008-2009 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

The NeeSimPom Cultural Enrichment Program at the Four Winds School provides quality educational services for 20 American Indian pre-Kindergarten children and 30 American Indian children in grades K-2. The program acknowledges that the family, school, and community are vital to the academic success of American Indian children. The NeeSimPom program is designed to establish strong educational partnerships both in application and in action between the home and the school to ensure American Indian children will reach their full potential as learners. The Positive Indian Parenting curriculum provides a solid foundation for parents to explore values and attitudes expressed in traditional American Indian child-rearing practices. Family members and parents as full partners in the education of their children develop attitudes, values and skills that validate their American Indian cultural heritage and positively affect student learning and achievement.

Fresno County

Sierra Unified School District
Auberry Elementary School
Sierra Elementary School
Ara Keledjian, Director
Michael Gardner, Superintendent
29143 Auberry Road
Prather, CA 93602
Phone: 559-855-2332; Fax: 559-855-2016

The program serves 115 students, pre-K through fourth grades at two elementary schools and two Head Start programs. Students receive daily tutoring and support in language, reading, and math at both elementary school sites. The program also provides after school homework centers at Big Sandy Rancheria and Cold Springs Rancheria where the majority of the students reside. In addition, a four week summer program is offered at both Rancherias. The summer program reinforces academic progress and also builds their cultural knowledge. The students regularly participate in many cultural activities such as beading, basket weaving, native language lessons for students and parents, native plant identification and uses from on-site Indian villages, storytelling, games, and music. The program offers a healthy balance between academic support and cultural awareness.

Humboldt County

Klamath-Trinity Unified School District
Hoopa Valley Elementary School
Margo Robbins, Director
P. O. Box 1308
Hoopa, CA 95546
Phone: 530-625-5600, x2335; Fax 530-625-5617

The program serves two sites and incorporates culturally relevant, standards based curriculum and materials for K-4th grade classrooms. We seek to increase students' academic achievement, foster a sense of belonging in the school environment, and engage parents as primary educators of their children. Direct tutoring services are offered during school hours, targeting students' individual needs. A homework incentive program engages parents as active participants in their children's learning. Activities to address students' social emotional well-being include participation in children's theatre and anti-bullying activities. These program elements mesh together to provide a holistic approach to education.

Imperial County

San Pasqual Valley Unified School District
San Pasqual Valley Elementary School
Frankie Franco, Coordinator
676 Baseline Road, Route 1
Winterhaven, CA 92283
Phone: 760-572-0222, x2199

The program serves 184 children. A top priority is placed on parent involvement with the How to Help Their Child Succeed in School series. Trainings on Family Math are held three times a year in three different sessions. Administrators, teachers, parents and community members work cohesively to increase student achievement. The school district is working in partnership with the Quechan Tribe in a joint effort to ensure parents have access to the variety of site events and parent trainings that are offered by providing transportation. Additional after-school support is provided by credentialed teachers to re-teach or pre-teach grade level standards in order to move targeted students in reaching proficiency levels in math and English Language Arts as measured by the California State Standards Test.

Madera County

Chawanakee Unified School District
North Fork Elementary School
Stuart Pincus, Principal
33087 Road 228
North Fork, CA 93643
Phone: 559-877-2215; Fax: 559-877-2377

The program serves approximately 46 children. North Fork School is a K-8 school within the Chawanakee Unified School District. Located in the town of North Fork in rural northeast Madera County, the original school was established in the 1930’s, and it is one of the oldest schools in the mountain community. The current facilities were constructed approximately 40 years ago, and are located adjacent to the Mono Indian Museum. Situated next to the campus is a Mono Village, representing the ways of the past. Most school buildings underwent modernization during the summer of 2004, and all facilities are now in excellent condition. For many years, lumber was the primary industry in the North Fork area, but since the closing of the local lumber mill in 1992, the community has struggled for a new identity. North Fork’s population reflects an increasing variety of socio-economic conditions. More than 60% of the students qualify for Aid for Dependent Children and/or free and reduced lunches.

The North Fork School site has received funding through the California Department of Education for many years helping to serve the Pre-K through fourth grade Native American Students. We currently serve 46 Native children in grades Pre-K through fourth grade. The Early Childhood Education Program at North Fork School consists of 3 main components: Intervention, Language/Culture and a Preschool program.

The intervention component of the program is run through a Learning Lab environment. During the Universal Access time within the Houghton Mifflin curriculum, the American Indian Education tutors, guided by our Reading Specialist, interact with American Indian students who benefit most through supplementary instruction in the area of Language Arts. The students focus on phonemic awareness, fluency, decoding strategies, and comprehension strategies. Additionally, the tutors are able to front load lessons in grades 4th and 5th and re-teach when needed.

The second component consists of the teaching of the local Mono language and culture by Mono elders. Students attend classes two days per week. Some classes are taught within a classroom setting, especially in grades PreK-1. The 2nd through 4th grades have classroom setting lessons in the Mono Village. Seasonally, the Mono village is brought to life. We have community members and children who provide lessons focusing on the Mono language and culture in a natural Mono setting.

Our preschool is based on Creative Curriculum for Preschool. The program is a theme-based approach to learning using child-initiated activities such as play. The program emphasizes literacy, mathematics, science, social studies and Kindergarten readiness. We incorporate American Indian culture and language in all areas of learning. Our goal is to encourage children to be successful learners now, and in the future, by teaching them to think for themselves, solve problems, and get along with others.

Shasta County

Gateway Unified School District
Grand Oaks Elementary School
Shasta Lake School
Janie Ryness, Director
17725 Shasta Dam Blvd.
Shasta Lake, CA 96019
Phone: 530-275-7127 or 530-275-7006 ; Fax 530-245-7990

The program serves 122 children at two K-5 school sites. The BASKETS program has four key components:

  1. Culturally appropriate materials that are available to all families for home use.
  2. Additional in-class tutorial support.
  3. An after-school program that includes activities to develop oral and written language skills.
  4. Professional development for American Indian education staff as well as school staff members, parents and the community.
Tuolumne County

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

The program serves students, pre-K through fourth grades. Students receive individual grade-level standards in language arts and math, tutoring for those students who need assistance in the classroom, after school support for American Indian students, and cultural activities which take place during or after school. Working closely with the Family Resource Center by providing adult literacy and parenting classes ensures authentic parent involvement.  

Trinity County

Trinity County Office of Education
Sandra Sterrenberg, Indian Education Coordinator
PO Box 1256
201 Memorial Drive
Weaverville, CA 96093
Phone: 530-623-2861, x260

The program serves 65 pre-K through 4th grade children in three school districts. Trinity County’s American Indian Early Childhood Education program increases the visibility of the local American Indian community, enhances the presence of the rich native culture, and builds pride and respect. Program goals include enhancing self-esteem in students and adults by providing cultural support and activities, and improving student achievement through strategic intervention.

Each school 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 increases awareness. This event targets all 3rd and 4th grade students and their teachers and provides authentic activities aligned to the California 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 supplemental program. Trinity County Office of Education has created a curriculum resource guide for teachers that focuses on local American Indian topics, including standards-based activities. Five Trinity County students were honored to have their artwork and poetry included in the 2006 edition of the Thoughts From Native Youth publication.

Yuba County

Marysville Joint Unified School District
Dobbins Elementary School
Yuba-Feather Elementary School
James Graham, Director
Robert Dunmore, ECE Teacher/Coordinator
1919 B Street
Marysville, CA 95901
Phone: 530-749-6196; Fax: 530-741-7840
E-mail: or

The program in two elementary schools serves 80 children in preschool through fourth grade. The American Indian Early Childhood Education 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: Tuesday, September 23, 2014

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