Early Childhood Education Center

After a strong 17-year Head Start relationship between Michigan Inter-Tribal Council and the Pokagon Band, Tribal Council has decided the Pokagon government is ready to establish its own early childhood development center for the 2018-19 school year beginning September 4th.

This transition, effective May 17th, will bring with it several positive changes. First and most importantly, this change strengthens the tribe’s sovereignty and allows Pokagon people to create our own learning standards and curriculum for the youngest among us. Because the Pokagon Band will be fully funding this still-to-be-named center, we will not be subject to the guidelines and requirements that come with federally-funded programs like Head Start. Our team will have the freedom to develop a curriculum based on Potawatomi culture and language and incorporate appropriate experiences like outdoor education and indigenous ways of learning. The center can accept children from any family without income restrictions.

Research shows that children who had such early childhood education experiences succeed at higher rates than children who don’t have similar exposure to literacy and culture-based education. We will maintain many of the beneficial features of the Head Start model: our program will be a place for 3, 4 and 5-year olds to learn, have fun, and prepare for kindergarten. The center will keep small class sizes and low teacher-student ratio.

The Pokagon Department of Education will be working with the Curriculum Committee, the Department of Language & Culture, and other tribal departments to develop the program. Under the leadership of Tribal Council, this team will hire and train teachers, create learning objectives and a curriculum, and plan for daily lessons and a long-range calendar. We appreciate the current staff who are serving our children, and we hope they apply for future positions.

There is much to do before the program starts in the fall, but this ambitious step is another in our tribe’s realization of self-determination and sovereignty. If you are interested in enrolling your child in this program, or have any questions, please contact the Department of Education at the Head Start information line (269) 783-2469.

Pokagon preschool plans moving ahead

The Department of Education and the Curriculum Committee have been steadily working on the early childhood development program over the past months. Elizabeth Reinhart, the manager for the new preschool program, has started work and soon will complete the hiring of the teachers ahead of September’s first day of school. Read her introduction letter here.

If you’re interested in enrolling your child in the preschool, complete the pre-application here. Also if you’re interested in learning more about the program’s development, Curriculum Committee minutes are now being posted below. If you have any questions, please call the Education Department at (269) 783-2469.

Meet the ECDC Site Manager Elizabeth Rinehart

My name is Elizabeth Michaelle Rinehart, and it is with great honor to accept the position of the Early Childhood Development Center (ECDC) site manager. Our tribe is embarking on an incredible journey that is sure to be rewarding. This is not to say that there won’t be any challenges, but I am up for those challenges, and I see them as opportunities for growth and learning. My own journey has groomed me to serve my people in a way that aligns with my passion of working with our greatest treasure, our children.

continue reading her letter here