New Hands on the Reins at Klamath-Trinity
By KRISTAN KORNS, Two Rivers Tribune
New Superintendent Dione Beilby is excited about the possibilities for positive change at the Klamath-Trinity Joint Unified School District (KTJUSD).
“Everyone I’ve met here has been great,” Beilby said. “There are a lot of good people and great teachers.”
Beilby was just twelve days into her new position when she met with the KTJUSD Board of Trustees at Weitchpec Elementary School on Tuesday, October 8, for their monthly meeting.
“Each day is little different,” she said. “There are a whole lot of changes with the common core coming in; not just in California, but across the country.”
Indian Education Director Margo Robbins reported on some of the changes happening in the district to make the curriculum more culturally relevant for the local area.
“We want to teach our students about the history of our place and our people,” Robbins said. “In the history books they might give us a paragraph, but our history is much bigger than that.”
New second grade worksheets and lessons are tied-in with topics like acorn gathering and ceremonial dances.
Robbins also said instruction in local languages is being expanded. Yurok and Hupa classes are offered at Hoopa Valley High School, and Karuk is taught in Orleans.
“Captain John [High School] and Two Rivers will start offering Hupa next week,” Robbins said.
In Weitchpec, the Yurok Language Immersion Program is in its second full semester.
Principal Matt Malkus said, “Chelsea and Annelia come in the afternoons, and everything is in Yurok. It’s amazing how quickly the kids pick it up.”
Annelia Hillman, one of two Yurok language immersion teachers at Weitchpec and candidate for the school board, said, “It’s about getting the kids into the habit of speaking Yurok.”
“Some of the parents say the kids get home and use words in Yurok like ‘eee,’ which means ‘yes’,” Hillman said. “And some of the parents say they’re learning Yurok from their kids.”
The program has 16 students from kindergarten to third grade, and Malkus said they hope to expand soon to grades four, five, and six.
“We have two families from Hoopa right now that come up; they carpool together,” Malkus said. “We’re hoping that some more students from Hoopa will join.”
The Board also heard from new Business Manager Michelle Sanderson, who recently took over the post from Jeff Caldwell.
Sanderson reported on carryover funds, did a recap of September’s funding and expenses, and talking about enrollment in the district.
“We had an increase of 10 from last year at this time,” Sanderson said. “Enrollment for all sites is 1,055.”
In addition to the District’s new Superintendant and Business Manager, the Board voted on Tuesday to hire a new mechanic for the Transportation Department and an office assistant for Trinity Valley Elementary School.
There will be more changes in December, as new Board members take their seats.
Hillman, who ran unopposed to represent Orleans, said she wanted to see the activity bus serving the River Schools again, and also wanted to change Trustee benefits.
“I think we should do away with health care for the Board members because we can use that money for the children,” Hillman said.