STAR ALUMNI ALERT: Leadership for Change Program alum Telletha Valenski, EdD’21, will serve as the next director of West Campus at San Juan College.
Prior to this appointment, Dr. Valenski was a School Health Education Specialist with Northern Navajo Medical Center. She also served on New Mexico State Chiropractic Board. Dr. Valenski is a founder and board member of Dream Diné Charter School.
Dr. Valenski’s dissertation title is Dancing to Learn Navajo: Assessing Levels of Perceived Learning Enjoyment in Young Dual-Language Navajo Students following a Short Session of Aerobic Dance.
For her dissertation research, Dr. Valenski introduced a dose of dancing to improve motivation and positive learning of the Navajo language for young Navajo children who are primarily English speaking. The goal for the fifteen minutes of dance was to create a sense of enjoyment that would carry over into the course, and the results were that students engaged. This study showed that traditional Navajo holistic education orientation that incorporates music, independent, free-flow dance, and exercise of the body prior to a language lesson can enhance learning outcomes. Although the experiment had a small number of participants, the positive results, coupled with my own experiences as revealed via autoethnographic interpretations, offer new directions for creative instruction on behalf of saving the Navajo language. Other positive benefits not measured relate to enhanced physical fitness from the dancing.
To learn more about the doctoral program EdD in Leadership for Change, please visit the School of Leadership Studies and the EdD in Leadership for Change sections of this site.