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  6.  | Tlingit Culture, Language, and Literacy Program Gets First Permanent Principal

Tlingit Culture, Language, and Literacy Program Gets First Permanent Principal

Jun 8, 2023 | Education, Right Moves

Eldri Waid Westmoreland | SHI

The Juneau School District (JSD) selected Eldri Westmoreland as the first permanent Principal of the Tlingit Culture, Language, and Literacy (TCLL) program. Westmoreland takes over for interim principal Molly Box to lead the program that has grown since it was established in 2000.

TCLL is place-based, culture-based “program within a school” where Tlingit language and culture are integrated into elementary-level instruction. Originally launched by Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI), it proved so successful that JSD assumed funding for the program. 

Westmoreland holds a master’s degree in mathematics education and is pursuing her doctorate in Indigenous Studies with a focus on education at UAF. She began her professional journey in 1993 as a preschool teacher before moving into elementary and middle school as a lead teacher. She began working for the JSD as an elementary classroom teacher in 2009 and since 2019 has served both JSD and SHI as a middle school mentor teacher, instructional coach, and curriculum developer for SHI’s Opening the Box-STEAM program. She also owns and directs her own Indigenous education research and curriculum firm, Math Raven. She is Yeíl, Kaach.ádi (Raven, Frog) and a mother of four sons.

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The TCLL program currently serves seventy-two students in kindergarten through 5th grade and is expanding to middle school as part of a plan to establish a dual language program. The shift means teachers will incorporate more Lingít into lessons.

“We are ecstatic to have Eldri leading the charge, especially at a time when we are expanding the TCLL program to middle school,” says SHI President Rosita Worl. “To have someone of her caliber, professional experience, and commitment to education in command of TCLL is like Raven aligned all of the stars, moon, and planets! That she is Tlingit and carries our cultural values in her heart is the icing on the cake.”

In 2021, SHI awarded Westmoreland its Judson L. Brown Leadership Award in recognition of her demonstrated academic achievement and leadership skills.

TCLL is one of three optional programs open to all students in JSD, along with Montessori Borealis School and the Juneau Community Charter School.

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