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Native students attend convention in New Mexico

  • Climate & Culture
  • Focus on Students
Native students attend convention in New Mexico

"Rochelle Garcia-Gomez, Title 1 Coordinator for Adams 12 Five Star Schools, and her colleagues, Manny Gonzalez, Equity & Engagement Coordinator, and Christina M. Sigala, Native Education Youth Advocate, and Leia Duran former Adams 12 Five Star School student, and now at MSU Denver, along with Adams 12 Five Star Schools parents Nikki Denny and her daughter Lia Denny from Rocky Top Middle School, Amy Barcenas and her daughters Alliah and Amy Barcenas from Woodglen Elementary School and Rhonda Standing Bear attended the 54th Annual Convention & Trade Show, in Albuquerque, New Mexico on October 18-21, 2023. The theme was Education Sovereignty. It Begins With Us.


The National Indian Education Association (NIEA) began in 1969 with the “First Convocation of Indian Scholars” and was held at Princeton University. According to NIEA 2023 Conference information, “NIEA first gathering consisted of Native Educators, administrators and advocates and was designed to have a discussion on how to improve learning environments serving Native Students” (Conference Brochure, 2023). One of our parents, Amy Barcenas shared this sentiment, “Our experience can’t be measured, and the opportunity to learn and develop a new outlook is immense! Mixing of cultures and vast differences and yet still connecting with each other’s spiritual traditions was instrumental and the focus that New Mexico has on education is evident throughout the region! Amazing work being undertaken in this region with education and advocacy supporting higher education. Sincerely appreciate the opportunity and support from the community and educational institutions”. Amy Barcenas and Family

Ana, Alliah and Amy Barcenas pose for the camera at NIEA conference

The National Indian Education Association (NIEA) was formed by Native educators in 1969 to encourage a national discourse on Native education. For years, NIEA has hosted an annual convention to provide a forum for collaboration.

NIEA adheres to the organization’s founding principles:

+ to bring Native educators together to explore ways to improve schools and the education of Native children;

+ to promote the maintenance and continued development of Native languages and cultures;

+ and to develop and implement strategies for influencing local, state, and federal policy and policymakers.

This story about the work that Equity & Engagement department shows their commitment to elevating everyone in the student population. The Adams 12 Five Star Schools Board of Education has proclaimed November 2023 as Native American Heritage Month. Read the proclamation here.

This story exemplifies our ELEVATE Focus Area: Outside-the-Classroom Learning. Sharing stories about how the district offers students multiple learning opportunities outside the traditional classroom providing various pathways to success.

  • Rocky Top Middle
  • Woodglen Elementary