Creating a future with new Elementary Education Program at FDLTCC

The Gatica Cruz family from left: Nahin, Jorge, Christopher and Dyana (Photo courtesy of Nahin Gatica Cruz.)

By Dan Ninham
(Editor’s note: The print version of this story was accidentally attributed to another writer.)

Nahin Gatica Cruz is a full-time junior student in the recently announced four-year Elementary Education Program at Fond Du Lac Tribal and Community College (FDLTCC). “I am so proud to be part of this program,” said Gatica Cruz. “I am proud to be part of FDLTCC because my professors have been a powerful influence on my future teaching career.”

On October 28, 2022, the FDLTCC Education Department and President’s Office held a celebration and feast in the FDLTCC Commons announcing the launch of a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education. The celebration included a pipe ceremony, a drum song, a number of speakers, and a feast following the commemorating events.

Dr. Kim Spoor, FDLTCC Dean of Education, recently emailed the Education Faculty, Curriculum Developers, and Advisory Council Members announcing the new four-year licensure program and acknowledging the team effort.

Spoor stated, “This would not have been possible without all the hard work and dedication that you put into developing the courses, reviewing the courses, and now starting to teach them.”

According to the FDLTCC  website, “The Elementary Education program at FDLTCC uses a cultural approach to preparing teacher candidates within their education pathway. The program curriculum delivers culturally relevant methods with an emphasis in Anishinaabe ways of knowing that are intertwined with professional outcomes that aligns to state standards.

“The Elementary Education department is pleased to offer three degree program options in education, including the new Bachelor of Science (BS) degree option. Students can choose to work toward a 60 credit two-year Associate of Arts (AA) or Associate of Science (AS) degree and a 120 credit four-year Bachelor of Science (BS) degree.”

Gatica Cruz migrated to the U.S. but wasn’t able to attend high school in his new country because of the many obstacles immigrants face, but finally, after many years he had the opportunity to overcome the biggest of them that prevented him from getting an eduction.
“I went to an adult school at night after my work to achieve my GED (General Education Degree),” said Gatica Cruz. “After I earned my GED diploma I decided to enroll in college and keep following my dream. I am an English learner who started learning the language as a young adult; Spanish is my first language.”

“The language was a big challenge when I started my first semester at the college but now that I have almost completed my Associate of Science Degree Course in Anishinaabe and American Elementary Education, I have realized that it is not as hard as I thought it will be and I can do it,” added Gatica Cruz.

Gatica Cruz started college as an adult after working for 17 years as an assistant foreman in a desert plants nursery in Southern California.

“I feel welcome at FDLTCC and I am so happy to stay here to complete my four-year Elementary Education program,” said Gatica Cruz. “I feel that this happiness is encouraging me to try very hard to learn the Ojibwe language. I hope to be strong and be able to learn the language and someday in the future teach it and incorporate it into my classroom.”

“I can easily say that I have chosen to be a teacher because I believe that I have the potential to make a great and positive impact on the education of the students. This belief could not be built without the influences of my professors, without the creator placing me in the right place, and without the support of my wife and family,” added Gatica Cruz.

“The path of my career has been like building a puzzle, one piece at a time,” said Gatica Cruz. “Since my early education, I always wanted to help my classmates if they needed help in class. I took the time to help them understand if I knew about the topic.”

“When I was studying ESL (English as Second Language) as a young adult, my teacher saw this quality in me, and she said ‘You should be a teacher someday’ and those were the first words that pointed me to this career. Then the creator sent me another sign, I met and married my wife Dyana who is a teacher. Those were the first pieces of the puzzle that were building and shaping my belief and my future career,” added Gatica Cruz.

“The next piece of the puzzle began to fit in 2019, when my family and I decided to move here to Minnesota and again, the creator placed me in the right place which is here at FDLTCC,” said Gatica Cruz.

Professor Rain Newcomb is a member of the English faculty. “Professor Rain had a profound influence on me,” said Gatica Cruz. “She encouraged me to keep studying hard to reach my career as a teacher. I remember that I enrolled at FDLTCC to improve my English skills and that was my only intention. I was not planning to make it a career. But when my first semester was finishing, Professor Rain asked me if I had registered for my next classes. I told her that my plan was to only take English classes.”

“Professor Rain looked at me and said, ‘You have to keep studying, you can do it, you have been doing an amazing job, you can be the teacher you want to be,’ and at that moment I felt great having someone who believed in me,” added Gatica Cruz.

“Someday my career puzzle will be complete,” said Gatica Cruz. “I know that with my future career I can create a positive impact on the education of our future generation, and I can be a role model for the students. I feel that this path, as a teacher, is part of my destiny, and I am excited.”

For more info on the FDLTCC four-year Elementary Education BS Degree Program, see their webpage: