Language and Culture Staff

Hannahville's primary teaching team for Potawatomi language, culture and history consist of three full time instructors. The teaching team serves students in grades K through 12 at the Hannahville Indian School - Nah Tah Wahsh PSA. The team is also responsible for providing language education for the pre-K programs and adult education.

Two additional staff members round off the teaching team by promoting the integration of technology and media resources to meld with the language curriculum. The new curriculum now integrates rich and interactive media resources such as video lectures, vocabulary lessons supported by audio, and online flash-based vocabulary games and quizzes posted to our language website. Other media resources include a 36-week two semester online language course, a 9-week learn-at-your-own-pace online course, a storybook section with lessons that focus on all language learning components of individual stories, and a searchable dictionary that includes a verb conjugation resource section as well. Another enhancement to language education for the Middle and High School students is the SONY Digital Language Lab. All media resources are electronically archived for the department as well.

Meet the Primary Language Team

Cindy Burns

Cynthia Burns Bosho. My name is Cindy Burns. I am one of the Language/Culture instructors at the Hannahville Indian School. I'm married and have three children -- two of them live in Wisconsin and the other lives at home with my husband and I. We moved from Wisconsin to Hannahville two years ago.

I can tell you -- it is a hard task to learn our language. Yet I'm learning and teaching what I'm learning to the children in our community. I am proud to be part of the effort to revitalize our traditional Potawatomi language.

Like my mother told me -- "No matter what happens, keep on going." That's what I do. I keep going. I keep learning and teaching.

Melissa Robitaille

Melissa Robitaille Melissa Robitaille, a certified language teacher, joins us from Chicago, Illinois to teach in the Potawatomi Language Program, grades 6 to 12, at Nah Tah Wahsh PSA. With a B.S. in Spanish Education, she holds an Illinois type 29 Bi-lingual Certificate and has been trained in the method of Total Physical Response (TPR) – a method of teaching language through movement. Other training has included Assessment of Bi-lingual Students, Cross Cultural Communication, CRISS Training, and Character Counts. Ms. Robitaille’s teaching experience has been in providing classroom instruction in the four components of ESL – reading, writing, speaking and listening – instructing in both Spanish and English, and teaching Spanish Levels 1 and 3, as well as Spanish 1 for Native Speakers.

Melissa comes to the Hannahville Indian Community with enthusiasm and commitment to meeting the challenge of learning AND teaching the Potawatomi language.

Kyle Kovish

Kyle Kovish Bosho. My name is Kyle Kovish and I would like to give a big migwetth to the community members here at Hannahville. You have all made me feel welcome here over the last couple years, and being far from my home, I appreciate that. At the moment, I am working at the Culture Department as a temporary worker teaching the Potawatomi language to the elementary students at Nah Tah Wahsh.

Last summer I worked with the Summer KidZone program teaching language and culture at the Heritage Center. The year before that, I was an intern at Nah Tah Wahsh and Three Fires while I was finishing up college. All of my family lives in the Detroit area and I have been in the Upper Peninsula for the last five years. If you see me at school or in the community, say bosho. And I would be happy to give you more details about who I am and what’s going on with the culture department. Igwien.

Dawn Hill

Dawn HillBosho, nin noswen Dawn Hill. Bark River ndotth bya.* I live with my husband and eleven-year-old daughter who is a student at the Hannahville school. I also have two grown sons, a daughter-in-law, and one grandson.

In July of 2005, I was first asked to join the Potawatomi language education team as a consultant to assist with integrating technology into the language program and in October 2006 I was assigned as the ANA Language Program Coordinator. Since the fall of 2005, the team has established a long-distance video conference language class with Forest County and launched this web site as a language learning tool -- adding new content weekly. In addition, we have developed a new language curriculum to align with Michigan's World Languages content standards and benchmarks, particularly at the high school level.

In planning our curriculum, we chose to include the Project Based Learning (PBL) model as a program component because it provides students with real-life, hands-on learning experiences. This student directed approach encourages students to take on a larger role in the content of their own education. The first Culture Project Based Learning (CPBL) activities were implemented in the second semester of the 2005/2006 school year. The focus of those activities were to seek an understanding of "What Is Lost When a Language Dies?" A full report on CPBL activities will be posted in the Culture Education section.

Finally, the Culture and Language Team has established a Digital Learning System Language Lab in the school. This dream has become a reality through a three-year ANA language grant awarded on September 30, 2006.

Eric Janofski

Eric JanofskiHello, my name is Eric Janofski and i have had the pleasure of working with the Culture Staff here at Hannahville during this active time. We have been recording audio and brainstorming on the best ways to use our new language lab and website resources with the students.

So far we've come a long way and I hope that the progress we make will be felt by many generations to come.

My favorite part of my job so far has been working with the website. Website design and develpment has been my focus in the past few years and I am thankful that I have a job that allows me to work with websites and language. In college I had the opportunity to study French for 4 years and it is amazing how much I can apply my language studies to the learning and teaching of Potawatomi.

Culture and Language Pictures