Kyle Dee, Diné, shares his love for math at Dził Ditł'ooí School of Empowerment, Action and Perseverance - DEAP
Kyle Dee, math specialist and teacher at the NACA Inspired Schools Network (NISN), DEAP believes that understanding math is more than just plugging numbers into a formula. He is a first-year teacher at the Dził Ditł'ooí School of Empowerment, Action and Perseverance, and he tells his students that to know math is to know the story of math and numbers. Kyle has lived in many places but his mother is from Crownepoint, New Mexico near Antelope Lookout. He is deeply connected to where he is from and how it informs where he wants to go.
A current student at the University of New Mexico, Kyle is studying to become a mathematician because he believes studying math intrinsically will assist him in becoming a better math teacher. He has served two AmeriCorps terms for NISN starting in March of 2016. The NISN Indigenous Educators Corps, in partnership with seven (7) different schools and communities, works to deliver enriched educational experiences that build on community-defined needs and strengths for Native American students in New Mexico. Currently, NISN hosts 26 AmeriCorps members across 8 sites.
During his time as an Indigenous Education Corps member, Kyle worked with middle and high school students at the Native American Community Academy (NACA) and coached them in mathematics across grade levels. Now, he is teaching 6-10 grade at DEAP, where he says he conveys to students the meaning of math instead of the misconception that is math is just a bunch of numbers. Kyle says working at the NACA inspired him to push the concepts of math further within his lessons to meaningfully connect with his students.
He uses this philosophy of teaching to interact with his DEAP students. DEAP opened in Fall 2015. Located in Navajo, NM, DEAP honors the history and legacy of Dził Ditł'ooí by consciously balancing the needs of the land with the needs of the people through Dine’ culture revitalization, community action and empowerment, service learning, experiential learning based in Agriculture education, a wellness and perseverance philosophy, and career and college prep focus.
Kyle says that he learned a lot from his teacher mentors at NACA Main Campus. Paula Maxim, Stephanie Hinson, Stacy Leslie and Clem Wings assisted him in teaching strategies and classroom management skills that were able to help him truly connect with middle school students, especially students enrolled in Intervention Math. Later, he went on to teach at the NACA High School Campus located near the UNM School of Library and worked with upper-grade level students.
He wants to pass along to his students the ability to see how math affects them on a daily basis. He teaches students that math skills are needed for their future and that the “real world” is steeped in mathematics. Importantly, Kyle knows that as an Indigenous educator he is able to relate to his students through shared cultural backgrounds, stories, and language. “It’s important that there is more Native representation within the education sector. I can relate to my students through our shared culture and traditions, through our language. In a very real way, I can be a model for my young students,” Kyle says of his work with his DEAP students. He believes in healthy communities and continuously working towards healthy futures for DEAP, Navajo, and all Native communities. In general, he encourages more Native and POC folk to be involved in the education sector. One day, he envisions that some of his current Dził Ditł'ooí School of Empowerment, Action and Perseverance will be in his shoes. That they will find a place at the front of a classroom, teaching young Native students and giving back to their community. For now, he continues to focus on ways to teach mathematics through an Indigenous lens. He appreciates that as a new teacher he has much to learn. Additionally, he knows the innate power in being an Indigenous male educator returning to the reservation to teach young people. Kyle says of his teaching journey, “I do like teaching very much at DEAP. I really do love it. I’m eager to see how our school community will grow. It’s an amazing place of learning.”
For more information on how to join our NISN AmeriCorps Program - Indigenous Educators Corps please contact Ventura Lovato at firstname.lastname@example.org