Summer vacation will soon be over for students attending Marty Indian School when classes begin the day after Labor Day. A new teacher has recently been hired to teach first grade and they are currently looking for a fifth grade teacher. The majority of kids attended the Boys and Girls club until the end of June so will be eager to get back to school and be with friends again. Testing and reviewing are always on the agenda for the first few weeks of the new year to identify any deficiencies students may have. They did improve their math scores last year because of the grant they received for extra tutoring and although that program has ended teachers will be working with students to make sure they keep and even improve their skills. Reading scores are still not up to standards so teachers and staff will be working hard to improve those numbers this year.
Since they no longer need the extra room for math tutors the Feather Store room that held clothing, shoes, toiletries, etc. last year is being moved back to the elementary building. They’re thinking of making one of the rooms into more of an adult room so parents can shop for clothing and toiletries during the day while their children are in school. The other room would be stocked with toys, school supplies, books, crafts, stuffies, and snacks serving as more of a children’s store. Getting parents coming to the school is one of the main goals so hopefully they will feel more comfortable with the staff and start participating in their child’s education and attend school events. They do expect parents to attend parent/teacher conferences but they never have the turnout they would like.
Five of our Sew For Kids room parents are returning this year for grades K-5, some of them for the second or third time. Linda B is going to be the new room parent for grade 1. Our goal is to have two room parents per grade but some classes still have a single volunteer. We really need more volunteers to help with this program so if this sounds like something you’d like to do please, contact Carol here. Room parents help their teacher with special needs for a class project, school supplies, healthy snacks and a small gift for each student on their birthday and Christmas. Birthdays are celebrated monthly for all students born that month so cards and gifts can be sent ahead saving money on shipping. Some room parents send all the gifts and cards for the first half of the year and send another box for the last half. Classes have parties for special days and holidays such as Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Easter that room parents can help with if they choose. Class sizes are usually around 12 to 14 students, the maximum number the school can have is 95. Last year they had between 75-80 at any given time as students come and go depending on their family situation. Principal Jolene Arrow will send a monthly newsletter and a calendar for the year to the room parents so they will know what their classes are doing and when students are in school.
Room parents aren’t expected to help with all the needs of the classroom. We have a large group of SFK members that support the Feather Store by sending clothing, shoes, winter gear, toiletries, school supplies, household items, towels, blankets, pillows and pillowcases, toys, Christmas gifts, etc. This year someone was at the school all summer long to receive packages many members were sending early so kids could have what they needed to start the new year. Also this summer SFK member, Linda H led a group of volunteers making special badges for the kids saying “Happy Birthday”, “Good Job” and other inspirational messages all made possible by funding from a grant they received. Thank you Linda and all the volunteers that helped with this project, we can assure you the kids will be thrilled to wear your badges!!
Another SFK member, Ramonia Stephens, stopped in at the school on her way to another state and brought lots of donations for the Feather Store. Ramonia said she felt so welcome during her visit and says they encourage anyone wanting to visit to please do so.
Janet S and Penny N will be heading to the school for a fall visit to their classrooms and to drop off supplies for their classes and the Feather Store. Penny always has plenty of news to report and sometimes takes a video to share with our Facebook group.
Students eat two meals a day at school, breakfast is between 7:30 and 8:00 am and lunch begins at 10:30 am for the younger kids. The school day is over at 3:30 pm so kids get pretty hungry in the afternoon unless the school can afford to give out healthy snacks. Some kids won’t have supper at home or much on the weekend so a healthy snack in the afternoon may be all they eat until returning to school the next morning. Kids cannot concentrate on learning nor perform well on a test if their stomachs are empty. The school reviews their food budget each year to see how often they’re able to give out snacks, last year they provided snacks 3 days a week for the first term and only 2 days for the last term. We know how important nutrition is for growing children so SFK started a “Snack Fund” at Lakota Friends Circle and sends the funds directly to the school so they can purchase healthy items locally such as fresh fruit, veggies, yogurt, cheese, nut butters, etc. You can help ensure kids have the nutrition they need by making a small donation to the fund, with many of us working together we can make a difference.
Paulita Drapeau will once again be holding her popular sewing classes for the older kids where they learn to make traditional ribbon skirts including the boys who make them for their mothers or “aunties”. She’ll also be teaching kids about Dakota culture and have craft activities to correspond with their lessons. We will post a list of needs for the sewing and culture project as we learn of them. Paulita is still in charge of stocking the Feather Store and will probably be helping Marty sports teams as well. The school would love to have book donations of all kinds but especially those about Lakota/Dakota or Native Americans (bi-lingual are great) so please keep an eye out for those. They want to encourage students to start a home library so reading becomes a habit providing them with a skill that will serve them throughout their lives.
Principal Jolene Arrow is trying to find a way to work with kids in the community who can’t get one of the 18 spots available in the local Head Start program. Kids that don’t have access to early education are at a disadvantage when entering kindergarten. SFK is trying to find ways to get parents to come to the school and learn how to work with their kids at home and also provide them with the books and supplies they need. Teachers we need your help! If you have experience in early education or ideas of how we can help Jolene with her program please contact us!
Thanks to all the returning room parents and to everyone that has helped the school over the past three years. Your caring and generosity is now legendary and we look forward to beginning our fourth year serving Marty Indian School with you. Thanks to Penny N for being our Ambassador to Marty and providing us with detailed reports of her visits and pictures and videos that make us all feel we’ve been there too!
Please send all donations for Marty Indian School here. and enclose a SASE and the completed tax form (link on the address page) if you need a tax receipt. If you wish to make a donation for healthy snacks please use this link and type “Marty snack fund” in the comments box. All donations to the school are tax deductible. Even if you do not want a charitable form but want to make sure that your box got there, send a list of items and a SASE so they can return it to you. Thanks.
Last, but certainly not least, we want to thank one of Lakota Friends Circle’s partner groups, “For the Children of Pine Ridge Reservation” for raising $450 for school supplies for 300 students at the Rosebud elementary school on Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota. Fantastic job ladies! Some ladies are sending their own supplies which works as well. They’re currently working on warm winter items and a washcloth and soap and blankets for every student in the school!
If you want to sew along with us join us on our Facebook Sew For Kids Volunteer page We would love to have you help! And you will meet the nicest people, I can guarantee.
Thanks as always from Sew For Kids