10News Leadership Award Winners Mary Ann Donohue, Michelle Parada
Last Updated: 2336 days ago
10News honors Principal Mary Ann Donohue and teacher Michelle Parada, founders of the All Tribes American Indian Charter School located on the Rincon Indian Reservation in Valley Center. The charter school was developed to help curb the dropout rates among Native American students in San Diego. Mary Ann Donohue is a former police officer and City Attorney Investigator who after seventeen years left the City of Escondido to pursue a career in teaching. While studying to receive her Administrative Credential (Masters), she concentrated her thesis on the high school dropout rates among Native American students on the local Indian Reservations. The drop out rate among students on these reservations ranges between 75%-95%. This is a fact that she had become aware of fifteen years earlier and it had bothered her since. Michelle Parada grew up on the Rincon Reservation. Entering Orange Glen High School, she was one of 13 American Indian students in her class of 1984. She was one of only three students who graduated. She understands the cultural and societal challenges these students face in school every day. The high drop out rate was just the way it is. Under the supervision of the Valley Center-Pauma Unified School District, Donohue and Parada founded the All Tribes American Indian Charter School and structured the education to accommodate the students extenuating circumstances. Classes begin at 9 a.m. to keep students from being tired and the majority of school work is done in class with the assistance of the classroom teacher which promotes group learning. Classrooms are maxed out at 20 students to allow more one-on-one attention between teachers and students. The smaller class sizes and individual attention has lead to a rise in self-esteem and self-confidence with the students. At All Tribes the Native American culture is infused into the curriculum. For example, the Native language, Luiseno is offered as a second language. More importantly, while most American Indian students have always been encouraged to find a job after finishing primary education, Donohue and Parada encourages students to focus on graduating from high school, pursuing college and looking at all their options. Donohue and Parada run the school in good nature as well as good humor. Though Donohue is the principal, she also serves as a bus driver, language arts teacher and drivers ed. instructor. Parada serves as teacher, counselor, bus driver and cafeteria cook. Inspired by Donohue and Parada, teachers from other San Diego school districts quit their jobs to come and help at All Tribes. Many felt they would be needed more at the new charter school. Many also took pay cuts to accommodate the school budget. All Tribes receives the same type of funding as any other public school. Money is raised through private and corporate donations as well as various grants. In June 2006, All Tribes produced their first high school graduating class. Donohue and Parada continue to educate and open up options for their students that they never thought they had before. For more information, please contact All Tribes American Indian Charter School at 760-749-5982.