DPI Documents

College of Menominee Nation
Program Rationale

Rationale for Early Childhood/Middle Childhood (Birth – Age 11)

The College of Menominee Nation’s Early Childhood/Elementary Teacher Education program responds to the need for classroom teachers with an emphasis in mathematics and science who service American Indian students and who know, understand, are capable of implementing and assessing the cultural experience of American Indian children: a mandate enacted by tribal authorities (Menominee Tribal Legislature Ordinance 96-22, 1996, 2006; Villa-Gomez,1996, Waukechon, 2006;Weso, 2007; Stancavage & Mitchell, 2006; Gilbert, 2007). ​


The growing need for elementary school teachers emanates from increased population and calls for culturally responsive approaches to teaching and learning. Promotion, protection, preservation and enhancement of language, culture and tradition has been a continued educational interest of Wisconsin tribes. During the treaty-making era to the present, education has been a primary consideration of American Indian tribes. Prior to boarding school days, the Menominee built their own school houses and classes were taught by Menominee using a bilingual approach (Teller, 2006).

Over the last century, Menominee, Oneida, Stockbridge-Munsee, Ojibwe bands and Ho-Chunk each sent children to boarding schools within their region or to out of state boarding schools. After Wisconsin boarding schools closed, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) day schools flourished along with church schools K-8. Beginning in the late sixties, tribes began to establish their own schools: namely, Milwaukee Indian Community School, 1970; Menominee Alternative School, 1974; Menominee Indian School District, 1976; Menominee Tribal School, 1987; Oneida Nation Turtle School, 1979.

More recently, the Lac Court Orielles and Menominee joined the tribal college movement and remain the only two tribal colleges in Wisconsin. These two postsecondary institutions received accreditation in 1993 and 1998 respectively and continue today carrying out the tribal mandates by providing career opportunities at the post-secondary level. At the forefront of this charge is the Menominee Language and Culture Code first legislated sixteen years ago and reaffirmed six years later (Menominee Tribal Legislature Ordinance No. 96-22, 1996, 2006) to promote, protect, perpetuate and nurture American Indian culture. In preparing its own teachers of American Indian children, the College of Menominee Nation builds on long standing tribal values of living within a community, caring for each other, sharing tribal ways of living, and more importantly, flourishing in community. In today’s world, preparing teachers who know, understand, implement, and assess the cultural experience of American Indian children also carries with it the charge to care and protect tribal natural resources.​


The College of Menominee Nation’s Early Childhood/Elementary Teacher Education program also responds to the recommendation of the Wisconsin Governor’s Task Force on Educational Excellence (Spector, 2004) to increase the diversity of teachers in Wisconsin especially in under-served geographic areas (rural reservations) and within understaffed-content areas such as mathematics and science.

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction’s (DPI) Supply and Demand (Fischer & Swanger, 2006) projections for state school districts show an above average supply of elementary and early childhood and kindergarten teachers. However, the Department of Workforce Development (Grosso, 2006) cites high needs for teachers in job-dense urban areas such as the Green Bay which is in Oneida country.​


For Menominee country, schools that service American Indian students are located on and near the Menominee reservation. In the Shawano County profile, elementary school teachers are listed among “best prospects” (Grosso, 2006). While the Department of Workforce Development projections favor job-dense areas like Green Bay and Shawano, the Menominee Indian tribe reports steady increases in population over the last three decades – increases of 29%, 15%, and 25% within the confines of the reservation (Kowalkowski, 2004); increasing numbers of families whose school age children increase school enrollment on and near the reservations. ​


Description of Early Childhood/Middle Childhood (EC-MC) Program

​Program Enrollment​

The College of Menominee Nation has issued 120 AAS degrees for Early Childhood since 1998. When Early Childhood/Middle Childhood (EC-MC) Program first began offering 300 level courses, 17 students comprised the first Teacher Education class in the fall of 2009, formally admitted after receiving their Associate of Arts and Sciences (AAS) degree in Early Childhood from CMN. The first graduating class (2011) numbered six, four of whom work with the Menominee Indian HeadStart program (2 students continuing in their jobs and 2 new hires as classroom teachers). The fifth student was hired by the Menominee Indian School District at the Kindergarten level and the sixth is the Skills Lab Coordinator for CMN. Currently there are 2 potential graduates spring 2012. In the upcoming fall semester 3 students have been approved for Student Teaching and in the spring, 8 more will be seeking application to Student Teaching.


The College of Menominee Nation enrolls over 700 students mostly female, single with dependents; over 70% are of tribal descent – mainly Menominee, Oneida, and Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohicans. Students claiming tribal descent represent 60% of the Teacher Education enrollment and are almost all female and many single mothers. All CMN coursework is delivered face-to-face with the exception of ITV courses shared between the Keshena and Green Bay campuses. Very few Teacher Education courses are offered in this manner as most students are on or near the Menominee reservation.​

Conceptual Framework​

For Teacher Education to construct a conceptual model that guides expression for faculty and students to validate competence in teaching and learning, a tribal organizational model emerged. By using a traditional clan structure, tribal “ways of knowing” of American Indians could also be defined and assessed to validate teacher preparation of a very well prepared teacher of all children, especially American Indian children. The conceptual framework shows how basic knowledge skills and dispositions can be evaluated. The framework includes: foundational knowledge, knowledge of subject matter, skills (competencies such as planning, classroom management, situating critical thinking and problem solving within inquiry to promote student’s thinking); collaborating with colleagues, parents, internal and external agencies in the community; and monitoring one’s beliefs and values regarding social justice issues. These elements or categories are embedded in course assignments/assessments within course syllabi where standards are addressed and artifacts created to meet those standards, artifacts and reflections that demonstrate knowledge, skills and dispositions of beginning teachers.

​Program Assessment​


At various stages in the program, through a progression of assessments – Associate’s degree Portfolio Seminar, TE Admissions Portfolio, pre Student Teaching Portfolio and post Student Teaching Portfolio – portfolios demonstrate student knowledge, skills and dispositions regarding particular standards. At CMN, a student’s first encounter with standards [at CMN, called General Education Objectives (GEO)] begins at their initial orientation where students are acquainted with portfolios and in Student Success Strategies where the first artifacts are created for communications -- writing, speaking and using various media. Then a spread of GEOs, across CMN’s general program of study are included in syllabi specifying what is needed in assignments and assessments to meet those GEOs and at what skill levels. These artifacts produce the first portfolio collection. Prior to graduation for an Associate’s degree, student artifacts are assessed in EDU295 Student Portfolio Seminar, a course required for all CMN Associate degree students. Here too, CMN’s GEO’s and Teacher Education Program Outcomes assess Teacher Education emphasis coursework for the Early Childhood AAS.​

Teacher Education emphasis courses are further evaluated in an Admissions Portfolio prior to being admitted as a baccalaureate student; the DPI’S Ten Teacher Standards are assessed in the Pre-Student Teaching Portfolio in two practicums that focus on artifacts from methods courses, finally, dispositions as defined in CMN’s Teacher Education Mission Statement are articulated by students in their Student Teaching portfolio.


The CMN teacher education framework shows how standards guide the program, faculty, cooperating teachers, students, and employers of teachers in not only forming a shared professional vocabulary but articulating what all teachers must know, do, and value as professional educators. Within this framework , the teacher is centered as the decision-maker – planning developmentally appropriate and culturally responsive curriculum, managing safe, supportive, and challenging environments for children to learn from each other as well as from the teacher or through various technology, situating critical thinking and problem solving within an inquiry approach, collaborating with children, colleagues, school specialists, administrators and external agencies and continuously monitoring aspects of social justice within one’s own classroom and within oneself. ​


Teacher and Student Standards​

In all of standards, a teacher must be able to reach satisfactory competency levels in knowledge and performance. To manage the variations and overlap in standards whether it’s evaluation of teachers, students or a teacher preparation program, competencies for each standard set are inserted in a table within each syllabus. The table lists the standard, an assignment that incorporates that standard, an assessment, and a proficiency scale. This table is repeated uniformly in all syllabi for students. This fall, each syllabus for fall classes will change and use Association for Childhood Education International (ACEI) and National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and Common Core Standards for those posted on DPI’s website. CMN’s fall courses will create the artifacts necessary to construct portfolios that demonstrate progress in reaching competency levels that move a preservice teacher from the ranks of an early novice to a highly accomplished beginner [Teacher Performance Assessment (TPA) Consortium Overview] verified in both the pre Student Teaching and post Student Teaching portfolios.​


Cultural Assessment​

This fall, the knowledge of cultural aspects, skill in creating and using cultural materials, and reinforcement of tribal language according to the Menominee Language Culture Code (MLCC) will begin a more comprehensive assessment of cultural components. Within each class; knowledge, skills, depositions, and assessment will be positioned within the syllabi in the same manner as other standards are – named, created, assessed by competency level as knowledge of teaching and learning concepts, skills in teaching and learning, and dispositions as visibly defined in CMN’s Teacher Education mission statement. ​

Critical support for implementing improvements in CMN’s TE program has been grant funding. This on-going support helps CMN to fulfill its special role in preparing teachers, adding that special niche in education that not only increases the number of qualified teachers in rural areas on and near reservations but prepares teachers to know, understand, and assess and appreciate the cultural experiences of American Indian children. ​


Collaboration and Professional Development through Culture​

With CMN’s Sacred Little Ones (SLO) grant, the emergence of curriculum materials and student artifacts bring aspects of culture and literacy (assessed by both DPI’s New Literacy Standards and the Menominee Language and Culture Code (MLCC). The College of Menominee Nation's, Sacred Little Ones, grant is funded by the Kellogg Foundation through the American Indian College Fund. This important cultural based project has three focuses: infusing Menominee Language and Culture into daily instruction in Pre-Kindergarten, Kindergarten, First and Second Grade classrooms in the Menominee community; developing student projects and activities in the upper division CMN Teacher Education courses to support project activities; and conducting research on the academic success of Early Childhood children, 4K to Second Grade students in the project and the impact the project had on early childhood children’s parents. The Early Childhood faculty, Cyndi Pyatskowit, as the Principal Investigator and Project Director and Dr. Candy Waukau-Villagomez, Reading/Language Arts faculty, have piloted grant activities in two courses in Spring 2012. In the following three years Teacher Education faculty in all the upper division courses will infuse aspects of this cultural based project into each course. The project has three partners; Menominee Indian School District, Menominee Tribal School and Menominee Indian Head Start. Through these three partners the grant's materials, activities, and instructional focus can be infused into the Early Childhood classrooms in our community.


Current research indicates basing curriculum and instruction within a young child's culture is beneficial to their academic success.​

Another opportunity that the SLO brings through the Cultural Images course is collaboration time for students and classroom teachers working together just as the STEEP Summer Institute produces professional development opportunities for both students and cooperating teachers to share in using technology and creating science units.​

During each of these events, seasoned teachers and novices collaborate to develop developmentally appropriate and culturally responsive materials in a rich collegial environment.


Academic Advising is an integral part of student success at CMN. All students have opportunities to discuss education, career, and personal goals, transfer information, study skills, goal setting, motivation, with college advisors from Student Services as well registration assistance and course selection for general education courses and early emphasis coursework. Advising after being admitted to Teacher Education for junior and senior level coursework includes Teacher Education advising to check progress on PPST (Pre-Professional Skills Test) and Praxis II, monitor course selection and Grade Point Average (GPA), devise a course-taking sequence that ensures eligibility for application to the Teacher Education program, Student Teaching and graduation. Teacher Education advising supports and enhances student advising for those in the teacher education track at the junior and senior level, but students still maintain registration ties with their Student Service advisor to process registration forms (add/drop forms; special requests such as Independent Study or requesting an Alternate Delivery of a class when needed; and graduation applications). Students start with their Teacher Education advisor when completing forms for changes in courses or petitioning for exceptions to CMN policy and procedure, but they process registration materials through Student Services.​

Major Early Childhood Degree AAS​

Description of Early Childhood​

The Associate of Arts and Science degree requires a minimum of 62 credits. An Associate of Arts and Science Degree in Early Childhood/Elementary Education is designed to allow students to earn a degree that can be used as an entry point in the job market while at the same time allowing students to earn credits toward a baccalaureate degree.​

The College of Menominee Nation follows the standards established by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction and National Association for the Education of Young Children in preparing students for an Associate Degree in Early Childhood/Elementary Education. The course work covers infancy to adolescence development, observation strategies/techniques, curriculum planning, field experiences, and general education requirements. The Wisconsin State Legislature requires a background check under the Caregiver Law §48.685 and 50.065 Stats. Students may not be able to work in this field with certain legal convictions.​


Major Early Childhood/Elementary Degree BS​

The Early Childhood Middle Childhood (Birth – Age 11) major builds on the Early Childhood Associate of Arts and Science degree (AAS). The Bachelor of Science major requires a minimum credits of 130 credits to prepare for licensure by the State of Wisconsin Teaching License Ages 0-11. All courses including field experience require a background check under the Caregiver Law §48.685 and 50.065 Stats. Students may not be able to work in this field with certain legal convictions.​

Minor Early Childhood/Elementary Degree BS​

The Early Childhood/Elementary Degree requirements for a specialization include taking an additional mathematics and science with a lab course, so the total number of mathematics would total 7 credits; science 10 credits including Geometry for Teachers – 3 credits. By adding Environmental Science, the total Mathematics and Science credits equal 23. While not a licensed minor, students do have the opportunity to add an Associate Degree in Mathematics or Biological/Physical Science through the STEEP program. While most Early childhood students do not seek this option, other students mainly opt to complete the requirement for an AAS in Mathematics (requiring 3 more mathematics classes), for an AAS in Biological/Physical Science, 2 additional science classes with a lab.