SHI expands cultural training for educators to five communities in Southeast Alaska

SHI expands cultural training for educators to five communities in Southeast Alaska

Posted By:
Kathy Dye
Kathy Dye
Published On: January 8th, 2021

Program aims to promote cross-cultural understanding, cultural education

Jan. 8, 2021

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Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) for the first time is offering its cultural orientation program to elementary and secondary school teachers, support staff and administrators in communities outside of Juneau.

The program, which aims to incorporate Native world views into classrooms and promote cross-cultural understanding, is expanding to school districts in Ketchikan, Hydaburg, Metlakatla, Wrangell and Petersburg this spring.

The program, Thru the Cultural Lens, provides 50 hours of cultural orientations and participants earn a stipend upon completion of all requirements. Enrollees also have the option of earning three continuing education credits through the University of Alaska Southeast.

SHI has honed the program over several years, and staff has looked forward to offering it across the region, said SHI President Rosita Worl.

“It is so important that educators have some understanding of the Native world view and our history. It makes all the difference for our children,” Worl said.

Ample research has shown the effectiveness of using culture- and place- based teaching resources and methods to improve academic achievement for Indigenous students, said Worl, noting a 2013 study on Juneau’s own Tlingit Culture, Language and Literacy program also found a significant increase in the graduation rate of students initially enrolled in the program.

“Studies over the past three decades have shown that Native language and culturally-responsive programs are associated with improved academic performance, decreased dropout rates and improved school attendance,” Worl said.

The deadline to apply for the spring semester is Feb. 8. For more information, contact Teresa Varnell at or Irene Dundas at

Sealaska Heritage Institute is a private nonprofit founded in 1980 to perpetuate and enhance Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian cultures of Southeast Alaska. Its goal is to promote cultural diversity and cross-cultural understanding through public services and events. SHI also conducts social scientific and public policy research that promotes Alaska Native arts, cultures, history and education statewide. The institute is governed by a Board of Trustees and guided by a Council of Traditional Scholars, a Native Artist Committee and a Southeast Regional Language Committee.

CONTACT: Amy Fletcher, SHI Media and Publications Director, 907.586.9116,


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