image of Sapsik’ʷałá Family Portrait – Staff and Cohort 2024

Sapsik'ʷałá Teacher Education Program

Our Sapsik’ʷałá program began in 2002 to address the dire need for American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) teachers.

Our program collaborates with all Nine Federally Recognized Sovereign Indian Nations of Oregon and the UOTeach master’s program to deliver a pathway for Indigenous people to become teachers within their communities.

This program is based on the belief that Education Strengthens our People. In fact, Sapsik’ʷałá, is an Ichishkíin/Sahaptin word which translates to “teacher” in English. This name represents our program’s cultural values for self-determination of education for Tribal people.  

Under the guidance of our Tribal Advisory Council consisting of education representatives from the Nine Federally Recognized Tribes of Oregon, we aim to provide a culturally sustaining model to support Tribal Nations’ Indigenous and Treaty rights with an emphasis on growing our own Native educators.

The heart of the Sapsik’ʷałá Program is the building of communities of practice that foster a seamless path from pre-service teacher to induction as a new teacher through becoming a teacher leader.

The recruitment, support, preservice training, and in-service mentorship of American Indian/Alaska Native teachers is developed in collaboration with the Tribal Advisory Council.

The Sapsik’ʷałá program provides a cohort-within-a-cohort model for students to learn Indigenous methodologies for teaching and obtaining Oregon teacher licensure. 


Department of Education grant covers the following for Sapsik’ʷałá scholars:

  • tuition
  • books
  • computer
  • living stipend
  • dependent allowance

Program participants do service payback by teaching for 2 years in schools with high Native American student populations.

12 month master's program: MEd degree and teacher licensure in the following areas:

Our program also provides two years of support services once in the field.

The UOTeach elementary program partners with the UO undergraduate program Educational Foundations to provide undergraduate Educational Foundations (EdF) majors with the opportunity to jump start their licensure program.  Undergraduate EdF majors are able to attain credit for three of the UOTeach courses during their undergraduate program.

These support services include: 

  • Provision of a mentor
  • Formative evaluations of your teaching
  • Support for attendance at a professional conference
  • Cohort seminar meetings
  • Electronic distribution and discussion list
  • Access to virtual curriculum and research center

Contact Information

Melina Pastos (Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Reservation descendant) 
Sapsik'ʷałá (Teacher) Education Assistant Director

Michelle M. Jacob, PhD (Yakama)
Co-Director, Sapsik'ʷałá Program

Leilani Sabzalian PhD (Alutiiq) 
Co-Director, Sapsik'ʷałá Program

Check out our Sapsik’ʷałá Blog 

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