Community , Education

Osage named in sixth class of Billy Mills’ ‘Dreamstarter Teachers’

Photo caption: Jenna LaViolette has been selected to be part of the sixth class of Deamstarter Teachers, an initiative of the Running Strong for American Youth organization. Courtesy Photo

Dance Maker Academy founder and choreographer, Jenna LaViolette, has been selected to be part of the sixth class of Deamstarter Teachers, an initiative of the Running Strong for American Youth organization.

Founded by Oglala Lakota Olympic Gold Medalist, Billy Mills, the Running Strong organization gives grants to support the educational needs of Native students. Nine educators, LaViolette among them, were chosen from a pool of applicants that span seven states and serve students from at least eight tribal nations.

LaViolette, whose last name was formerly Smith, is also a 2016 Running Strong Dreamstarter recipient who is continuing to realize her dream of teaching Native-inspired ballet and dance in the public school system in Pawhuska Elementary School where she teaches third and fourth grade students, according to the Dreamstarter website.

“Her Dreamstarter Teacher project is to be able to continue teaching ballet during students’ physical education classes noting that since dance has been included in the curriculum she has noticed an improvement in their grades, and they are more focused and disciplined,” according to the Dreamstarter website.

Dreamstarter Teacher grants are up to $1,000 and can be used for a wide variety of purposes educators need for their classrooms, such as educational resource materials, supplies, equipment, professional development, field trips, or stipends for bringing community liaisons into the classroom.  

“Teachers and educators who inspire Native youth have chosen a sacred path,” said Mills in a prepared release. “Especially now, we need creative, strong teachers for our youth to guide them through a schoolyear like none other before. I’m proud to support their bright futures and dedication through Dreamstarter Teacher.” 

The full list of this class of Dreamstarter Teachers and their projects can be found on the Running Strong website: https://indianyouth.org/2020-2021-dreamstarter-teachers/

On October 14, 1964, Billy Mills won the 10,000-meter race at the Tokyo Olympics in an upset, come-from-behind victory that in has been repeatedly named the greatest race of all time. Ever since his story has been an inspiration to Native youth and all Americans. Mills is still the only person from the Western hemisphere ever to win that event. He co-founded Running Strong for American Indian Youth to help others live their dreams.  

Additional information about Dreamstarter programs, including application information, can be found at www.IndianYouth.org/Dreamstarter