Being a new faculty member in the UBC Faculty of Education, as well as the new Director of NITEP, I have found that there are many graduates of the program living in B.C. and other parts of the country. I have also observed that these alumni refer to themselves as “NITEP-ers”. NITEP-ers are a very diverse group that have continuously made positive impacts in many areas of education. Some NITEP-ers are in the federal system, such as in band-operated schools or in programs funded through federal agencies. Others are in the provincial system, teaching and administering in local schools in provinces across Canada. Still other NITEP-ers have gone on to Graduate Studies, pursuing master’s and doctoral degrees. Many more teach or administer programs at the post secondary level in colleges and universities. This indicates that NITEP has had a major impact on the lives of many Aboriginal people.NITEP as a program began in 1974. Its first student graduated in 1977, with a larger cohort following in 1978. The program now, as it did then, provides advocacy as a specialized teacher education program for Aboriginal students. As an Aboriginal-specific program, there has been a careful focus on providing a large component of both field and community-centered experiences. The program’s focus and respectful approach toward Aboriginal philosophy has provided for certified and better prepared teachers. This is in total contrast to the stereotype of a program that is “less-than” or in some way not as meaningful as a mainstream teacher education program. In NITEP there are helpful processes in place to assist with entry into the program, as well as, continuous peer and program support.
A new and improved image of NITEP will be implemented over the next two years. Currently, we have several initiatives underway that will focus on utilizing the tools of the twenty-first century. One such initiative is a new focus on communication. One of our immediate changes in this area has been to refresh the NITEP website. The site has an updated and improved look, and the methods of searching for information have been simplified. Each of the four NITEP Centres—Kamloops, Duncan, Chilliwack, and the urban site here at UBC Vancouver—will also have their own news feed on the website for the coming academic year (2009-2010). We are looking forward to expanding on other aspects of the website as our knowledge of the technology develops. We are also very optimistic about making changes and improvements to the courses within NITEP, which we will be reviewing and implementing changes in over the next three years.
It is our intent to provide better opportunities for Aboriginal teacher candidates to complete our program and become successful teachers. Students that have finished the program and now call themselves “NITEP-ers”, have learned a wide array of teaching strategies and are licensed by the B.C. College of Teachers. They have also reaffirmed their knowledge of cultural protocols. Meeting all of these challenges as a member of the Aboriginal community within the structure of a mainstream university is quite a monumental task.
If you feel that you are prepared to take on the challenge of becoming a teacher, come and see what NITEP is all about. Visit our new website at http://teach.educ.ubc.ca/bachelor/nitep or contact Natalie Simkin at 604-822-5240 to have information sent to you by mail. We look forward to hearing from you!