Educator Feature: Laurie Danzuka
School Board Member and Native American Success Coordinator
Warm Springs (tenino, wy-am), Wasco (wasqu), Paiute
“Laurie is a long time educator and education advocate who brings rich experiences and knowledge to her work supporting the success of Native American students. Laurie approaches her role with a posture of partnership with regional school districts as she works to support the implementation of Senate Bill 13 curriculum expectations. By doing so, regional teachers will be better equipped to teach in culturally responsive ways to better meet the needs of Native American students.”
Laurie Danzuka is the Native American Success Coordinator for the High Desert Education Service District and a School Board Member for Jefferson County School District. She is also a member of COREN’s Coordinating Body.
Tell us a little about what you do and where you work?
I serve the tri-county area to support schools and educators and teach Tribal History and present day circumstances. I also provide professional development and classroom support for educators that work directly with Native American students. For elementary students I share some tribal history as well as a cultural presentation that provides a hands-on learning experience. I am employed in a newly created position at High Desert ESD.
It’s Native American Heritage Month! What does it mean to you to be Native American and work in education?
For me it is the daily norms and practices that I was taught at a young age that I still practice today. It is about having a good heart and mind to share with others in a positive way. I am proud of my heritage and continue to hand these down to my family members as it is important to preserve these practices. I am very blessed to have the ability to tell my story as a Native American from my perspective and inform other educators in a truthful manner. I am still here. We are still here.
What are your favorite ways to celebrate Native American Heritage?
The practices that have been passed down by my mother and grandmother are the most meaningful and that is a year round tradition. For educational purposes it is important for me to share resources with others to raise awareness and create bridges to further understanding. I like to tell stories to others who are willing to learn more.
Why is it important that we support educators of color in Central Oregon?
It is important to provide educators that share perspectives of the students they serve in whatever capacity that may be. Oftentimes educators of color may feel isolated in their schools so we need to get them support in other ways and be creative in how to get that accomplished.
Can you tell us how you got involved with COREN and why it’s a valuable experience for you?
In my role as a school board member I was asked to be involved in this network. It is very valuable for me to work with other members who have a different lens whether it is early childhood education or higher education. Most people know that we serve families Pre-Kindergarten through 20 so it is important to know how to support each other. Collaboration of resources is key to save time and work out implementation issues for the different districts.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I challenge others to learn more about the local tribes and history of residential boarding schools and impact. If you have questions, ask me!