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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 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 eleven counties participating in the program for fiscal year (FY) 2020–21.

AIECE Program Directory

A directory of the twelve FY 2020–21 California AIECE sites with project descriptions is below.

Butte County

Butte County Office of Education
Jennifer Childs
601 Wall Street
Chico, CA 95928
Phone: 530-879-7411

Hem’nom Uji (Maidu word for House of Knowledge) is the title of the AIECE 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, STEP UP Academy, and Four Winds Indian Education Center.

The program supports both the academic and personal success of American Indian students in transitional kindergarten through grade four that attend STEP UP Academy. The program provides quality educational services to American Indian children in reaching their full potential as learners. Also, it encourages parents to become full partners in the education of their children.

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

The program currently serves 16 American Indian children.

Fresno County

Sierra Unified School District
Sean Osterberg, Director
29143 Auberry Road
Prather, CA 93602
Phone: 559-855-8311

The Sierra Unified School District AIECE program provides students with daily support and advocacy for student success at our elementary school site. The program collaborates with the after school homework centers at Big Sandy Rancheria and Cold Springs Rancheria where the majority of the students reside. 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. We also expose the native students to secondary education through our college tours beginning in grade two. The program offers a healthy balance between academic support and cultural awareness.

The program serves 115 students, pre-kindergarten through grade four, at the elementary school and our two local tribes.

Humboldt County

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

The Klamath-Trinity Unified School District AIECE program serves two sites and incorporates culturally relevant, standards-based curriculum and materials for kindergarten through grade four 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. Activities to address students' social emotional well-being include a culturally based positive behavior support program, and community events that afford students opportunities to lead traditional activities such as preparing traditional food and medicine. These program elements mesh together to provide a holistic approach to education.

The program serves 94 Native American students.

Imperial County

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

The San Pasqual Valley Unified School District AIECE program provides services for preschool age children and families. The program is committed to developing strong partnerships with parents and preparing children socially, emotionally and academically.

Prior to the beginning 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 language development, child development, parenting skills, and kindergarten readiness.

The program serves 22 students.

Kings County

Central Union School District
Anne Gonzales, Principal
15783 18th Avenue
Lemoore, CA 93245
Phone: 559-924-7797

The Central Union School District AIECE program serves Native American students from kindergarten through grade four, identified as needing reading and math support based upon various assessment tools used to determine aptitudes. The essential program functions are to support, supplement, and extend classroom instruction, diagnose the skills of the kindergarten through grade four Native American students, and to use research-based reading and math material to provide support and advancement of reading and math achievement. Program services and supports are delivered by a certificated staff who provides direct instruction to targeted Native American students as well as support to classroom teachers in the implementation of Common Core instruction. In addition to support during the regular school day, materials are purchased to provide support to students and families in reading and math.

The program serves 72 children.

Madera County

Yosemite Unified School District
Marcia Miller, Program Director
50200 Road 427
Oakhurst, CA 93644
Phone: 559-683-8801

The Yosemite Unified School District AIECE program is located at Coarsegold Elementary School, a small rural school in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, 17 miles from the gate of Yosemite National Park. Our program provides services for students in kindergarten through fourth grade. Approximately 10-15 percent of our students are Native American, many of whom are behind in school and do not participate in school activities. This leads to a high dropout rate in high school.

In an effort to encourage students to participate in school activities, and reduce the dropout rate, we offer students multiple opportunities to participate in sports programs, attend overnight field trips to learn about Indian culture and to see the traditions of several tribes, and have an active Associated Student Body leadership group.

A full-time aide works in the classroom to provide academic support to our Native American students.

The program serves 50 students in kindergarten through grade four with 12.3 percent of the students identifying as American Indian.

Shasta County

Gateway Unified School District
James Harrell, Program Director
4411 Mountain Lakes Boulevard
Redding, CA 96003
Phone: 530-245-7900

The Gateway Unified School District AIECE program “BASKETS'' serves children beginning with transitional kindergarten through fifth grade. The program is offered to three school sites within the district boundaries: Buckeye School of the Arts, Grand Oaks Elementary School and Shasta Lake School. The BASKETS Program provides culturally appropriate materials to families to use at home in order to support literacy skills. Our program also offers additional in-class tutorial support, as well as an after school program that includes cultural activities which help support the development of oral and written language skills. Professional development is offered for American Indian Education staff as well as school staff members, parents, and the community. 

The program serves an estimated 100 children.
Siskiyou County

Happy Camp Union Elementary School District
Derek Cooper
114 Park Way
Happy Camp, CA 96039
Phone: 530-493-2267

The Happy Camp Elementary School AIECE program is located on the Klamath River on Highway 96, ninety minutes from Yreka, California. The town is in economic hardship with over 90 percent of our students qualifying for free or reduced lunch. Our program strives to provide American lndian children the resources they need to learn and succeed in school.

Our program focuses on our kindergarten through grade four. The main focus of our AIECE grant is to provide our students with the support and tools they need to be successful in school. We use part of the AIECE grant funding to help pay for our kindergarten teacher, and support her efforts in training, art classes and professional development. We also utilize grant funds to update and purchase new curriculum for language arts, as well as new intervention programs and project-based learning programs. The project-based learning program allows students to create animated stories utilizing the Karuk Native language.

ln conjunction with the Karuk Tribe, we utilize hands on presentations to teach students about local customs and the natural resources in the area. We are continuing to expand the opportunities for our students and provide them with a well-rounded education.

Of the 100 students enrolled, 62 percent identify as Native American.

Yreka Unified School District
Amy Dunlap, Director
416 Evergreen Lane
Yreka, CA 96097
Phone: 520-842-4912

The Yreka Unified School District AIECE program at Evergreen Elementary School is located in Northern California in Siskiyou County. We have a population of 421 students, and 75 percent of students qualify for free or reduced lunch. We strive to provide American Indian, mostly Karuk, children additional resources to help them learn and succeed. Our program focuses on Transitional kindergarten through third grade. We have a half day credentialed teacher, who works in the classroom providing Native students’ academic support. All students are exposed to the general education curriculum during the morning. Each grade level group of Native American students was given academic assessments to identify each students’ specific academic needs. Based on needs identified through the assessment process, each student then follows a research-based program for his/her particular needs (phonics, fluency, comprehension). These programs are used in addition to the state adopted curriculum used in the classroom. It is important for our Native students to not be pulled out of class during key academic time. We utilize bi-weekly assessments to track the progress of our Native students. For the 2020–21 school year, we are able to provide on-site education for our students as I know many schools in California are restricted to distance learning.

Not only does our district support the academic needs of our American Indian students with the AIECE grant, we focus on providing cultural experiences as well. Our Title VI group puts on a Native American culture day each year for our grade three students. We also have regular presentations by local tribes, such as the annual Karuk Brush Dance Assembly. However, for the 2020–21 school year, those activities may need to be modified due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and current safe schools guidelines.

Of the 421 students enrolled,100 students identify as Native American.

Trinity County

Trinity County Office of Education
Tim Nordstrom, Director of Educational Services
201 Memorial Drive
Weaverville, CA 96093
Phone: 530-623-2861 x260

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 participating school site annually involves Native American parent and tribal stakeholder groups to receive and review input on the effectiveness and success of the program. Each site provides a site coordinator who oversees tutorial assistance in language arts and math. Cultural activities for students and their families are held during and after school, at Family Nights, and through local field trips.

An annual countywide Tribal Villages Celebration honors local elders and tribal members and increases cultural awareness. This event targets all Trinity County grade three and four students and their teachers, and provides authentic activities aligned to California State Standards, 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.

The program serves an estimated 80 children, kindergarten through grade four in four school districts.

Tuolumne County

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

The Summerville Elementary School District AIECE program's purpose is to support the educational and culturally related needs of Native American students. The program serves kindergarten through grade four 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. The nearby Rancheria extends invitations to cultural events during throughout the year. The Rancheria also provides language materials for our program. Our program continues to evolve to help meet the needs of our students with positive interactions with those around them, educationally, culturally, and socially.

We currently have 398 students with 47 students identified as Native American.

Yuba County

Marysville Joint Unified School District
Pat Bennett, Director
1919 B Street
Marysville, CA 95901
Phone: 530-749-6196

The Marysville Joint Unified School District's AIECE program staff provide scholastic support and tutorial assistance for students and parents 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.

The AIECE resource teacher conducts classes through an enrichment program for grade three and grade four students. When face-to-face learning is resumed resource teacher will be 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.

The program is offered in two elementary schools serving 55 children in preschool through grade four.

Questions:   Early Education Division | 916-322-6233
Last Reviewed: Friday, December 15, 2023
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