Citing its high Indigenous enrollment, one of Tulsa Public Schools’ alternative schools is looking at building a partnership with the Cherokee Nation during the spring 2023 semester to provide additional support for its students.
Located in the former Lindsey Elementary School building at 2740 E. 41st St. North, TRAICE Academy is a placement-based alternative site for middle and high school grades. Students are enrolled based on recommendations from the district’s Discipline Review Committee and are there for a minimum of nine weeks.
TRAICE is the acronym for Tulsa Resource and Adolescent Intervention Center of Excellence.
As of the start of the fall 2022 semester, more than one-fifth of TRAICE Academy’s students identified as American Indian or Alaska Native, school officials said.
By comparison, American Indian and Alaska Native students account for 5% of TPS’ total enrollment. Of the 1,916 TPS students districtwide who had been suspended during the fall 2022 semester as of Nov. 20, 100 are American Indian or Alaska Native.
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Those districtwide figures don’t include students who identify as multiracial.
“We’ve got to start doing better for our children,” said Jennie Stockle, a TRAICE Academy Middle School English teacher who is a Cherokee Nation citizen and of Muscogee descent. “What benefits our Native children benefits every other child that’s in our communities.”
Stockle and TRAICE Academy administrators initiated conversations with Cherokee Nation Tribal Councilor Joe Deere at a November dinner hosted by school board member Jennettie Marshall to recognize leaders and key people within Marshall’s board district.
Deere’s Tribal Council district spans southwestern Rogers County and Tulsa County between Admiral Boulevard and Oklahoma 20, including the TRAICE Academy campus.
Along with getting a Cherokee Nation flag to fly over the north Tulsa campus, conversations are underway to get additional culturally appropriate books for the school’s library and access to more culturally focused speakers and activities in an effort to better reflect the student population and serve its needs.
Citing a desire to bring part of Tahlequah, the Cherokee capital, to the Tulsa area, Deere said he has been working with other schools within his council district over the past three years to secure additional resources in order to better educate students about the tribe.
“They told me three years ago when I took office that there had never been a visible Cherokee Nation footprint in this area of Tulsa,” he said. “We just want to share our culture and our language.”
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