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Professor honored for Native American achievement work
Thursday, Sept. 17, 2009
By Gail Siegel, College of Liberal Arts
PULLMAN — Ella Inglebret, associate professor of speech and hearing sciences, has been named a Diversity Champion by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).
Inglebret was recognized for her “detailed analysis of factors contributing to educational achievement for Native American students,” said Vicki Deal-Williams, ASHA chief of staff for multicultural affairs. Inglebret also brings “visibility to the role of culture in educational service delivery for Native students in Washington State public schools in partnership with tribal and state leaders,” she said.
Diversity Champions are selected for advancing multicultural infusion in the speech, language and hearing professions, serving as advocates for or championing the cause of multicultural issues, demonstrating respect and value for differing backgrounds and points of view, and for having highlighted the impact of culture or language on speech-language pathology, audiology or speech-language or hearing sciences.
Inglebret is a member of an interdisciplinary research team at WSU commissioned by the Washington Legislature to study the “achievement gap” for Native American students in state public schools. Other team members include College of Education faculty D. Michael Pavel, Susan Rae Banks-Joseph, Laurie McCubbin and graduate student Jason Sievers.
The effort to improve the academic performance of Native American students is associated with House Bill 1495 (April 2005), which encourages the formation of relationships between school districts and their neighboring tribes to create curricula inclusive of tribal history, culture and government.
The research team produced a report entitled “From Where the Sun Rises: Addressing the Educational Achievement of Native American Students in Washington State” that was based on six months of research with school districts and 10 listening sessions with tribal communities.
Washington has 295 school districts and 29 recognized tribes.
Inglebret said her focus as a member of the research team has been on finding success stories.
“A part of what I did was to identify where there were tribe–school district relationships and where they were at in developing curriculum,” said Inglebret. “My role was to find out what is working and who is doing it.”
Inglebret found exemplary programs where tribes and schools have developed strong ties.
The relationship between the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe and the Port Angeles School District is one such partnership, where a curriculum on tribal history, culture, government and a First Peoples’ language program was developed by the tribe and implemented by the schools.
The research team, which was recognized for its work by the Washington State Governor’s Office of Indian Affairs in June, plans to promote the use of existing partnerships as models for other school districts to follow as they initiate or improve Native American curricula in response to House Bill 1495.
Inglebret has a longstanding interest in working with Native American communities.
As a speech-language pathologist working with children, Inglebret saw the need to bring more Native Americans into the profession to serve those communities.
Inglebret originally came to WSU in 1989 to coordinate a personnel preparation program for Native Americans in the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences that had been initiated by J. Richard Franks, WSU faculty emeritus, with funding from the U.S. Department of Education.
The program has provided Native American students with educational support as they pursue training at WSU in the field of speech-language pathology.
“We have provided students with opportunities to explore this profession as it relates to Native culture through course work, clinical experience and involvement in projects and research that benefits Native communities,” said Inglebret.
Inglebret holds a doctoral degree from WSU and is coauthor with Pavel of “The American Indian and Alaska Native Student’s Guide to College Success” (Greenwood Publishing Group, Inc., 2007). Her research interests include cultural factors impacting the learning and communication processes, speech-language diagnostic and intervention practices used with culturally and linguistically diverse populations, and factors underlying success of Native American students in higher education.
ASHA is the professional, scientific and credentialing association for 135,000 members and affiliates who are speech-language pathologists, audiologists and speech, language and hearing scientists in the U.S. and internationally.
Inglebret will be recognized at the ASHA Convention in New Orleans in November.