During Teacher Appreciation Week (May 2-6), Lana Toya, the Jemez Walatowa Head Start director in Jemez Pueblo, New Mexico, was honored by President Barack Obama during the National Teacher of the Year event at the White House.
As a supporter of Jemez’s work to strengthen and revitalize Towa language immersion for children in the pueblo, WKKF is proud of Toya’s efforts to give children in Head Start the opportunity to learn and grow immersed in their language and culture. WKKF strongly supports the full integration of Native language and culture into all aspects of Head Start, a policy that was reaffirmed by the federal Office of Head Start in 2015.
“Native educators like Lana Toya are leading powerful, culturally authentic efforts that will help grow a new generation of fluent Native language speakers,” said Kara Carlisle, WKKF director of New Mexico programs. “We’re so proud that she was honored at the White House for her work to embrace and celebrate the roots and traditions of Native communities as part of a child’s formal education, leading to their well-being and future success.”
Toya joined the Jemez Walatowa Head Start program in 2007. She also represents the Head Start community on the American Indian/Alaskan Native Advisory Council on Native Language.