Seeking a turnaround: Ute Tribe wants to partner with parents and school board to build success

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 8 2008 12:58 a.m. MST

The tribe's education board is considering the possible use of family advocates to help parents with at-risk students and hiring more truancy officers, according to Guzman.

"We are looking at different options to provide a support system for parents and to advocate for them," she said.

The tribe's education board also wants educators working at West and Todd to go through cultural sensitivity training.

"There are unique circumstances, and we want those to be taken into consideration," said Guzman.

Cesspooch said the Business Committee wants to do its part and back up some of their proposals to improve the school with money.

"We are going to try to do our part and even provide some funding to get some extra classrooms and get some teachers," he said.

Ideally the tribe would like some of the teachers at West and Todd to be American Indian and serve as role models for youngsters.

Looking to future

Cesspooch said the controversy surrounding what to do with West and Todd schools reminds him of the contention created several years ago by the proposal in Salt Lake City to build the TRAX light-rail line.

"They didn't like change," he said of the opposition to the mass-transit plan, comparing it to the votes by two Uintah School Board members against building the new school in Fort Duchesne to avoid busing students to Vernal.

"They are seeing only the bad side of everything; that is what reminded me of the TRAX proposal. They didn't want to even look a year beyond that to the future ... that's the same way I am looking at the school up here," Cesspooch said. "After TRAX was put in, they liked it so much they wanted more."

Still, Cesspooch realizes that moving the students ahead so they're no longer behind the curve will take time, energy and commitment.

"It's a challenge, let's put it that way," he said. "The parents have to walk the walk and keep the kids in school. It all boils down to education right from the very beginning of kindergarten. The teachers have to stimulate kids' minds and get them thinking."

E-mail: lezleewhiting@hotmail.com

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