By Sherman Marshall, II, SGU Adult Basic Education Department Director
The GED programs at Sinte Gleska University (SGU) and Oglala Lakota College (OLC) have much in common. Both programs date back to the early 1970s, operate multiple classroom locations, and serve vast Indian reservations in South Dakota. And both GED programs are also recipients of the American Indian College Fund’s Dollar General GED grant.
In addition to supporting Native adult learners pursuing their high school equivalency credentials, the Dollar General GED grant also supports professional development opportunities for the GED programs. In January 2019 the directors of the Sinte Gleska University Adult Basic Education and Oglala Lakota College Community Continuing Education/GED departments began coordinating site visits between the two programs.
During the first site two-day visit, the SGU Adult Basic Education department hosted 12 staff members from the OLC Community Continuing Education/GED department. The visit began with a meeting between the two programs’ administrators. After introductions, a round table discussion was held, with GED tutors sharing their instructional practices and discussing common challenges.
The visit continued on day two with a tour of the Adult Basic Education office in Mission, South Dakota. The SGU GED tutors shared some of the resources used in their classrooms. The SGU staff also demonstrated the online assessment software that administers computer-based pre- and post-tests to students.
Five staff members from the SGU Adult Basic Education department made a second site visit, traveling to the Oglala Lakota College Piya Wiconi campus. Staff from both departments continued their discussions on recruitment and retention practices and professional development. They also toured the OLC Historical Center to learn more about the history of the Oglala Lakota people.
The five SGU staff members also enjoyed a tour of the new Pejuta Haka College Center in Kyle, the Pass Creek College Center in Allen, and the LaCreek College Center in Martin. Along the way SGU GED tutors learned more about the continuing education initiatives offered at OLC, including a recent ribbon skirt workshop at the Pass Creek College Center.
The connections staff made during the site visits were invaluable. Some people remarked they learned more during the site visits than through formal training by sharing current program practices with peers who encounter similar challenges.
Both teams will continue to collaborate on an annual meeting, which will allow tutors to share the work they are doing in their respective centers. The Oglala Lakota College and Sinte Gleska University GED programs will begin the planning process during the Lakota Nation Invitational in Rapid City, South Dakota in December 2019.