Wyoming Education Association

Fall 2018

Issue link: http://digital.copcomm.com/i/1036712

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Page 13 of 31

X Member Spotlight 11 Purple Passion for Learning In many cultures, purple is a magical color. It combines the calm stability of blue with the enticing energy of red. Purple is often a sign of creativity, wisdom, and mystery. Serving portions of the Wind River Reservation, purple is also the color of Fremont County School District #6 – one of the largest districts in Wyoming in terms of geographical area served. The superintendent of Wind River Schools, Diana Clapp, is a visionary leader with a lifelong commitment to students. In 2013, she secured federal funds to begin a mobile preschool program to serve the families who have children ranging in age from birth to fi ve years and who live within the 2,400+ square mile boundaries of her district. Inspired by the "book mobile" model, the Little Cougars Mobile Preschool – lovingly referred to as "The Purple Bus" – has been the perfect vehicle to overcome the obstacles faced by the families and preschool students in Wind River Schools. The fi rst obstacle to overcome is the most obvious: distance. Many families in the Wind River School district do not have adequate resources to access to the necessary means to get their children to preschool every day. Another obstacle to overcome is the historical wounds associated with educating the children of the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapahoe tribes on the reservation. There is a history of taking children from their families to educate them. Although this practice has been condemned, there can still be an initial sentiment of mistrust between Native American parents and those who educate their children. By bringing early childhood education programs to families and allowing parents to participate in the lessons with students, parents and educators build a relationship anchored in striving to improve their students' learning skills. A fi nal noteworthy obstacle that this bus helps to overcome: Lack of access to resources. When the program started, there are no licensed daycare centers. There are no local medical service providers. Children in the remote areas of the Wind River Reservation have limited interactions with other children and need stimulating enrichment opportunities to develop the by Elise Robillard When the Purple Bus arrives, the children are excited and ready to play and learn.

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