Okla. A retired teacher from Maryetta Public Schools is using
her knowledge, old and new, to teach children about Cherokee heritage.
Susie Thompson, a Cherokee Nation citizen, said when she speaks
Cherokee it takes her back in time, creating a connection to her
mother and grandmother.
Thompson, a Cherokee speaker until age 8, said she was inspired
to volunteer after completing the tribes Teacher Enrichment
Institute. The TEI prepares staff, teachers and other citizens to
teach the Cherokee language, history and culture.
After the course ended Thompson said she wanted to learn more.
I learn best by teaching and love learning, said
Thompson. The new information I was learning through the Cherokee
teacher enrichment program was something that I wanted to share
with others. I knew there were many Cherokee speakers here in Bell,
and I asked Mr. (Tony) Davidson, the principal, if he would allow
me to come down here and teach Cherokee history, language and culture.
Thompson volunteers two days a week teaching Cherokee lessons
that align with the class curriculum. She tells stories such as
The Origin of the Strawberry to fifth and sixth-graders.
Words such as man, creator, huckleberry, peach and strawberry are
written on banners that display the English word, the Cherokee word
and the pronunciation in Cherokee.
In the process, the children have learned things about
Cherokee history, language and culture that they didnt know
before and I have learned things better, said Thompson. They
responded in a really good way.
The TEI is a free program that provides participants with Cherokee
knowledge, teaching skills, lesson planning, classroom management,
curriculum development and class assessments. The tribes Co-Partner
Program, a federally funded program designed to provide educational
opportunities to Cherokee children that would otherwise not be offered
in the public school system, administers it.
Thompson said after taking the course she realizes the importance
of preserving Cherokee culture.
I thought about all of the thoughts, all of the history,
all of the culture and the meaning of Cherokee words that cannot
be translated into the English language and I realized as much as
possible the Cherokee language needs to be preserved, she