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K-State Today

May 9, 2016

College of Education, Osage Nation create leadership academy

Submitted by Patrice Scott

Leaders from the College of Education and the Osage Nation in Oklahoma have entered into a partnership creating a specialized leadership program designed for the tribe's unique educational needs.

The Osage Nation Educational Leadership Academy begins this fall and the hybrid program offers classes through K-State Global Campus with some face-to-face meetings on the Osage reservation and occasional student trips to the Manhattan campus. The purpose is to develop leaderships skills for every aspect of Osage education including leadership in K-12 institutions, language preservation and immersion, family outreach, community development, adult education and more.

Osage Nation education leaders played a critical role in the program's construction, and will work in partnership with K-State Educational Leadership faculty in curriculum and delivery. Alex Red Corn, doctoral candidate in educational leadership and member of the Osage Nation, said the academy fills an essential professional development need for preparing graduate students for their environment.

"Educational leadership in the Osage Nation and across Indian country requires a unique set of cultural and technical skills that are often nonexistent in typical educational leadership training," Red Corn said. "Many educational leaders in Indian country are not being trained for the specific realities of work in their communities and tribal governments."

Debbie Mercer, dean of the College of Education, promised learning will be reciprocal.

"The academy is an opportunity for us to learn and grow together," Mercer said. "We look forward to taking our strong educational leadership program and molding it to ensure that it is culturally responsive to the needs of the Osage Nation. At the same time, we appreciate the trust the StandingBear administration has put in us, the unprecedented access, and the many ways the academy will deepen course content across the college."

Red Corn agrees.

"Faculty and staff in the College of Education have the opportunity to not only teach in this environment, but to also learn from it as they interact with the students and Osage Nation education leaders," Red Corn said. "I hope this enriches the college's collective understanding of what education looks like in a diverse setting that there has been previously little access to."

Red Corn said education is a top priority for the StandingBear administration, which is taking steps to develop a premier school that will enhance the skill set of the Osage people and preserve the Osage culture for generations to come.

"This academy allows for the Osage Nation to build its educational capacities from within with on-site convenience to working professionals and with a curricular emphasis on Osage-specific educational leadership topics and experiences, as opposed to generic conversations that may be less relevant to this specific setting," he said.

For Red Corn, the importance of this academy is as personal as it is professional. A passionate educator and father, he understands the future of the Osage Nation depends on the tribe's ability to cultivate highly skilled and credentialed members who assume the responsibility for educating their people.