In 2019 the Sinte Gleska University Adult Basic Education (ABE) Department began offering community-based learning opportunities. The program introduces and enhances knowledge and skills relevant to GED students, their families, and community members.

GED student displays hats and scarves she made.

Lindy Sitting Bear displays hats and scarves she made in a workshop.

Denise One Star, Assistant GED Examiner with the ABE Department, provided program curriculum and instructional support. The project collaborates with SGU departments, tribal programs, community organizations, and volunteers.

Participants include young adult parents and elders. A learning environment of diverse learners allows for peer encouragement and group celebrations of accomplishments.

Young adults make invaluable social connections thanks to elders’ participation. The elders share a wealth of stories, knowledge, and experiences through traditional oral teachings.

Learning activities are currently focused on sewing and bead work projects. Workshops are open to the community. The program incorporates Lakota values and teachings to connect projects to the community. For example, students learn how to provide for family giveaways, how to create dance regalia, and welcoming a baby. Participants enjoy free refreshments to nourish them as they work.

Lindy Sitting Bear at work in a workshop at SGU.

Lindy Sitting Bear, a GED student, attended a Pendleton fleece cap and scarf workshop, sponsored by the SGU ABE Department and SGU Tiwahe Glu Kini Pi. There participants made caps and scarves to keep their children warm during the sub-zero winter weather.

Community learning activities align with the ABE Department philosophy that learning is life-long. The relationships students make in the classroom build support for them in the community as students work towards GED completion. By introducing cultural, traditional, and real-world skills and mentoring in the program, lessons are relevant outside the classroom.

Future projects include making toddler dance regalia, lizard and turtle amulets, and ribbon skirts.

The support provided by the Dollar General Adult Literacy grant and the College Fund removes barriers to learning for adults. The program also allows the SGU ABE Department to implement new and innovative approaches to the program and to support GED students at SGU.