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Mandy Smoker Broaddus belongs to the Assiniboine and Sioux tribes of the Fort Peck Reservation in north-eastern Montana. She holds an MFA from the University of Montana in Missoula, where she was the recipient of the Richard Hugo Fellowship. She is also a graduate of Pepperdine University, and attended UCLA and the University of Colorado. Smoker Broaddus currently works for the Office of Public Instruction as the Director of Indian Education. She has spent the past seven years overseeing the work of statewide Indian Education for All Efforts and the Schools of Promise initiative, which seeks to turnaround the states lowest performing schools. In 2015, she was named the Indian Educator of Year by the National Indian Education Association. She was also recently appointed to the National Advisory Council on Indian Education by President Barack Obama. She was formerly an administrator in her home community of Frazer, Montana for three years. She has taught courses at Fort Peck Community College and the University of Montana. She has published one collection of poems, Another Attempt at Rescue (Hanging Loose Press, 2005). She has also served as a writer and consultant on the PBS documentaries Before There Were Parks and Indian Relay (which earned her a regional Emmy award).

Keynote Presentation Description

Montana, like many other states and regions, has a complex history as it relates to understandings of history and culture, inclusion and diversity.  However, Montana’s 1972 constitution recognizes “the distinct and unique cultural heritage of American Indians and is committed in its educational goals to the preservation of their cultural integrity.”  Subsequent law requires that “every Montanan, whether Indian or non-Indian, be encouraged to learn about the distinct and unique heritage of American Indians in a culturally responsive manner.”  Furthermore, it requires that “all school personnel should have an understanding and awareness of Indian tribes to help them relate effectively with Indian students and parents…” This keynote will explore the unique approaches used in Montana to improve educational settings for all students through the development of place-based approaches that foster inclusive and culturally responsive educational ecosystems.  It will also address areas of ongoing consideration and improvement – including teacher preparation, administrative leadership and vision, and connecting cultural responsiveness to increased student outcomes.  Stories of growth and compassion will be shared alongside data and qualitative measures.

Breakout Session Description

This breakout will more closely explore specific strategies utilized in Montana classrooms, school systems and communities to foster greater understandings and responsiveness in education.  By addressing barriers and challenging stereotypes and misconceptions among different groups of people and varying communities, educators in Montana have tapped in to local assets and cultural strengths to create and align curriculum, build powerful teaching strategies, establish new community engagement/school climate tools, and ultimately, create new and receptive learning environments that impact both educators and students.  Specific resources developed by the Office of Public Instruction and local Montana educators and partners will be shared.

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