Jordann Lankford

GREAT FALLS – Paris Gibson Education Center educator Jordann Lankford has been named as Montana’s “Indian Teacher of the Year.”

The Montana Indian Education Association will honor Lankford for her work with an alternative education program that aims to reduce dropout rates in the Great Falls area.

Lankford said the “Intertribal Immersion School” was created in November as a response to Native American dropout rates in the school district.

She said the program takes a cultural approach to cover standard high school curriculum including activities like cooking, beading and traditional games.

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The program also offers students transportation to school, which she said can become it’s own challenge for families.

Lankford currently has 31 students in her class, all of whom had previously dropped out of school. She said the program gives students another chance to think about their futures in the community.

“Keeping these kids engaged in school, making sure that they’re college and career ready because we want them to be a part of our community in a contributing way and y’know they matter, and they’re important and I‘m really excited that we got these kids back and they’re here doing this,” said Lankford.

Lankford and four of her students will be presenting the Intertribal Immersion School program to the state at the Title One Conference in Helena on Thursday.

She will accept the Indian Teacher of the Year award in Missoula on Friday.