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Iowa Valley Continuing Education/Meskwaki Higher Education Partnership

Ricarda Drummer and Jana Kapayou-Bear

Ricarda Drummer and Jana Valerie Kapayou-Bear at the June 2019 HSED graduation ceremony.

Iowa Valley Continuing Education and the Meskwaki Higher Education (MHE) Program have partnered to offer a new high school equivalency diploma class in Tama County. Taught by Ricarda Drummer, the HSED class began Jan. 8, 2019; it meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 am to noon at the MHE office at the Meskwaki Settlement School.

The new class was established as a result of the efforts of Jacque Goodman, IVCCD Vice Chancellor for Continuing Education; Jon Nuñez, Director of the Iowa Valley Education and Training Center; and Terri Scott, Director of the Meskwaki Higher Education Program.

MHE provides scholarships to members of Meskwaki and their descendants with at least 25% consanguinity, as evident in their Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood (CDIB).  Classroom books and supplies are available, as well. Those who meet the qualification are encouraged to call Harlan Brown at (641) 484-3157 to register for the class.

“Small classes offer individualized instruction and allow students to ask questions and understand the material,” says Terri Scott, MHE Program Director. “We see students enjoying their learning experiences and we look forward, along with the South Tama Partnership Center, to create time and space for new learners.”

The first graduate of the partnership HSED class is Jana Valerie Kapayou-Bear. Driven by her desire to accomplish something for herself and inspired by her loved ones,  Kapayou-Bear worked diligently and graduated on June 11, 2019. While studying to get her high school diploma, she was also employed by Red Earth Garden; she said her supervisor made it possible by making adjustments to her work schedule. Kapayou-Bear made use of her time during winter and spring when it was not busy at work. Most days, she attended the class at MHE and also went to the South Tama School Partnership Center, where Ricarda Drummer teaches HSED in the afternoon. She only missed classes when she was sick with flu and had to visit a doctor.

Kapayou-Bear says she was really moved by Dr. Christopher Duree’s speech during the July graduation ceremony held at MCC. She told Drummer, “Can you tell Mr. Retiree Speaker that I loved his speech? It makes me feel more accomplished!” Along with the priceless accomplishment of earning a high school diploma, Kapayou-Bear received a special quilt gift from MHE and money incentive from American Indian Council.

Kapayou-Bear is now attending Marshalltown Community College to get her Associate of Arts (AA) degree. Her employer, Red Earth Garden, continues to be very supportive of this endeavor by allowing her to attend classes and work after classes and on days that she does not have class.

“I am continuously inspired by my students’ hard work to get their high school diploma and make that accomplishment the beginning to pursue more to succeed in their lives,” says Drummer. “I communicate with them as much as possible, even after graduation.”

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