The atmosphere at the recent Native American Student Recognition Night for 2012-2013 was jovial, but when Howard Rainer’s victory song filled the room, you could have heard a pin drop.
With a room full of students who completed the first year of a mentorship program launched by Rainer, including a group of seniors who have already been accepted to college with a diverse range of careers in mind, there was a lot to celebrate.
“Just a small amount of people can turn things around,” Rainer told the audience of students, counselors and parents who participated in the program. “We can have an impact.”
Canyons District has participated in the Standing Tall program, which teaches students with Native American heritage about their culture, inspires confidence and monitors their academic performance, since the District’s creation in 2009. This year, for the first time, Rainer and the Academic Collaboration of American Indian Students established a pilot mentorship program for American Indian Students in the District.
Seniors who successfully completed the program received a $500 scholarship for college, and younger students received a certificate of recognition for their efforts. The program is designed to help Native American students take leadership roles, guide their peers through the sometimes-difficult path of high school and ultimately end at college.
Rainer, one of the leading Native American education consultants in the country, has been working on a documentary of the establishment of the mentor program in Canyons this year in the hopes that other school districts will have a blueprint to follow suit.
“It’s not an ending of anything,” American Indian Services Executive Director Jay Brasher told the audience as they celebrated the culmination of their efforts. “It’s a brief stop along the way. The future of this program lies in your hands.”