Saturday, April 22, 2017

These Navajo students have a 100% graduation rate

Clyde McBride teaches ag-science at Monument Valley High School in northeastern Arizona. The school is part of the Navajo Nation. Its students are poor. Ninety-eight percent qualify for free or reduced lunch. But McBride's ag-science program catapults them out of poverty. Of his 200 ag-science students, 100% graduate from high school (the state average is 22%). Seventy-five percent of these go on to college, and the remaining 25% get jobs immediately after graduation. Why? Because of his hands-on-learning style. "You can't learn unless you get a little dirty," he says.

                                                                                                   Swikar Patel / Education Week
McBride first had to win the trust of Navajos. Little by little, they realized this white man wanted to help them. In 2011, after 20 years of effort, he and his students opened a $2.4 million Agri-Science Center on campus. Families bring sick animals to the clinic and he teaches students how to treat them. They learn to make charts and relate to animal owners professionally. Their classroom is the community. One day he took 17 students to help a woman whose sheep and goats needed vaccinations. Working as teams, they roped and tackled each animal. held it in place for a shot, and released it. His students truly appreciate McBride. Jasmine Blackwater was a very shy 14-year-old when she joined the program in 2009. The life skills she learned enabled her to enroll at Stanford University, where she's a senior. She plans to attend law school and then return to serve the Navajo Nation. McBride believes his program helps students to see the value of academics. "If you make a mistake on a math test, you miss that question," he says, "but if you make a math mistake in the Agri-Science Center, an animal might die."

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