|November 1, 2012
Nkwusm Salish Language School continues to grow
ARLEE - The academic year is well under way at Nkwusm Salish Language Revitalization Institute’s pre-kindergarten through eighth grade classes. Enrollment is currently at thirty-two (32) students with the possibility of one or two more as of this printing. Most student transfers from the public school system are complete with the newest students entering the pre-kindergarten class. The past academic year’s final enrollment, for 2011 and 2012, was twenty-one (21) students.
Recent changes at Nkwusm are credited with the increased enrollment for this year. Parents, school board, and community members were concerned that the school was allowing children’s academics to suffer. Nkwusm has been very busy this year working with each student to insure that they are progressing to the appropriate academic grade level. Students who are performing below their appropriate grade level are receiving additional academic services. In response to parental and community concerns the Nkwusm school board created two new positions, a principal and a reading specialist. Kasie Murphy-Brazill and Valann Valdasen were hired for these respective positions. In addition to the two new positions, Nkwusm hired several new employees, and transferred others into existing positions.
Also new this year is testing of student’s academic progress, as well as testing of Salish proficiency. Nkwusm is using the Dibels and CBM testing instruments, the same devices that the Montana public school system uses. Students are tested to establish a benchmark of where their skills are, and then, retested twice again during the school year to monitor academic achievement, and to gauge the results of special assistance the students are receiving in academics. Salish language skills are tested at entrance and again several times throughout the year to measure the retention of Salish vocabulary.
While the school is working very hard to insure each student is performing to his or her academic grade level, there are still plenty of cultural and language activities happening. The two upper classes - first graders through eighth grades - traveled to the Medicine Tree to honor the Tribal sacred site. The students studied place names and names of towns on the route to the sacred site. A deer was donated to Nkwusm and the teachers and students processed it for the drying rack. The resultant dry meat was donated to a wake service being conducted for a Tribal member who had recently passed away. The teachers and students also went to the mountains, recently, to dig husks. The Salish language and the Salish and Pend d’Oreille culture are studied daily.
Nkwusm would like to remind Tribal Government and college employees that they may contribute to Nkwusm through the payroll deduction process. Nkwusm depends on the kindness of the community to offer the variety of services we offer in order to revitalize the Salish language. All donations are gratefully accepted, and used to perpetuate the Salish language and the Salish and Pend d’Oreille culture.