Starting next Fall, students of Tecumseh High School will have the opportunity to learn the Potawatomi language, earn their needed World Language credits and learn about a different culture very close to home.
According to Justin Neely, the Director of Language at the Citizens Potawatomi Nation, he and other members of the community developed this new course and for the last two years students at Wanette High School have learned from it.
"It's an online self-paced class so it's not something where we have to physically travel there. It's developed in a system called Moodle...It has quizzes and tests built into it. There's games and things to help you work with the language," Neely said. "There's Power Points with videos. There's little cultural teachings...,"
Neely said Tecumseh High School will start offering the course to its students in the Fall and Shawnee High School might also offer the class in the next few years.
"It is available for any school district but...you have to tell us about your interest (and) submit a letter to the Depart of Education saying you want to offer it in the school district," Nelly said.
The course is no additional cost to districts, Neely explained and the only thing schools would need to do is have a staff member who can monitor students as they go through the course.
Students can access the course on various forms of technology including computers, laptops and iPads.
Neely said CPN was happy to kick of the program with Wanette and he is looking forward to offering it for another story.
"We've enjoyed the partnership with Wanette and it was a nice district to kind of start off with and feel it out a little bit...Wanette the name actually is a Potawatomi name and Wanette actually means 'it's beautiful...'" Neely said.
A small group of 10 students at WHS took the course but Neely said since Tecumseh is larger, more students may enroll and one already has.
The class is offered to any student who wants to learn and Neely said it offers young people a chance to learn about a different culture.
"For the native students I think it would be really good for them to connect to their more traditional ways but they also learn about a different world view," Neely said. "Language is kind of like a window into the past and at the same time an example of how people live and how people see the world and so learning Potawatomi language you're also indirectly learning some of the culture about the tribe..."
The class was made possible by a grant CPN applied for and Neely explained he was part of developing the course. He explained he worked on the audio and recording.
For Neely, the course offers an insight into the importance of learning a new language and gaining a new world view.
For more information email Neely at JNeely@potawatomi.org.