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Pre-College Pathways

Valerie Shirley
Diné Co-Director of Indigenous Teacher Education Project, UArizona

Valerie Shirley is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Teaching, Learning and Sociocultural Studies. She received her Ph.D. in Curriculum Studies from Purdue University and M.S. degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Upon receiving her B.A. degree in Elementary Education from Arizona State University, she taught in two elementary schools located in two Indigenous communities in Arizona. She is a member of the Diné Nation (Ma’iideeshgizhinii, Tsinaajinni, Todich’iinii and Honaghaanii clans) which continues to shape her research and pedagogical interests. As such, her previous research work engaged Diné youth in the process of decolonization to critically examine their identities in relation to history and the Diné epistemology. Her research interests are within the areas of critical Indigenous pedagogy, social justice pedagogy, youth empowerment, curriculum development, teacher education and Indigenous education.

Prior to her arrival at the UA, she worked with diverse preservice teachers at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Purdue University; relying on the frameworks of critical multicultural education and social justice to support equitable learning experiences for students while encouraging educators to keep issues such as race, class, gender, sexuality, culture and language at the forefront of curriculum and instruction. 

In the Pre-College Pathway

STAR School will lead Alliance efforts to create, implement, and refine FEWS pre-college curriculum that melds STEM innovations and respect for Indigenous epistemologies and place-based interests and provide training for schools on K-12 FEWS education.

The Pinoleville Pomo Nation through the Pomo Youth College and Career Success Program (PYCCSP) will modify, implement, and test strategies that enable preK-12 Native American (NA) students to achieve college and career success through community cultural education, enhancement of academic and cultural support, and mentoring and academic counseling.

AISES Pre-College Affiliate School Program. AISES engages NA students at all levels, from early childhood through high school, in a multitude of programs and events that expose them to high-quality STEM education. The focus of the AISES Pre-College Program is “Awareness and Retention.” Presently, AISES serves 58,000 Native students through 220 K-12 schools and educational organizations. AISES will work with the Alliance and its partners to expand outreach and recruitment of NA K-12 students and teachers.