Hands-On Veterinary Program Helps Navajo Students Succeed
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Hands-On Veterinary Program Helps Navajo Students Succeed

JUDY WOODRUFF: Now: a classroom innovation
called career and technical education, a hands-on learning method for high school students. It is seen as a practical approach for both
those headed to college and for those who are not. And in the Navajo Nation in Arizona, it’s
making a difference. PBS special correspondent Lisa Stark of our
partner Education Week brings us this story as part of our weekly segment Making the Grade. LISA STARK: This is a one-of-a-kind classroom,
with a one-of-a-kind educator, Clyde McBride. CLYDE MCBRIDE, Kayenta Unified School District:
My philosophy is a kid don’t learn unless they get a little dirty. LISA STARK: So, in Clyde McBride’s classes
in Navajo Nation in Northeastern Arizona, students jump right in. CLYDE MCBRIDE: You never hold with your hands. You hold with your forearm. STUDENT: The McBrides tell us, you know, go
in there. You’re not going to learn anything if you
just kind of stand back and just watch anything. LISA STARK: This is hands-on instruction in
veterinary science, part classroom, part veterinary clinic. Students work and observe in two operating
rooms, one for small animals, the other for large. They conduct exams and vaccinations in a state-of-the-art
$2.4 million facility, part of Monument Valley High School in Kayenta, Arizona, and its career
and technical education program; 180 students, more than a quarter of the high school, have
signed up for this program, where abstract concepts meet the real world. CLYDE MCBRIDE: Before they go to surgery,
ketamine puts them to sleep. It is an anesthesia. And it’s calculated by the millimeter per
pound. In a math class, you get the problem wrong,
you miss that question. In my program, if you get that math problem
wrong, that animal can die. LISA STARK: McBride grew up around animals
on a ranch in Arizona. He lost his father at age 16 and figured he’d
forgo college to stay home and take care of the cattle. His mother had other ideas. CLYDE MCBRIDE: I will never forget going home
one day and she says: “We’re going to sign papers. I just sold the ranch. You have got to go to college.” LISA STARK: He became a teacher and, longing
for a rural district, jumped at the job in Kayenta. CLYDE MCBRIDE: When I came up here, some of
my peer teachers were like, why go to the reservation? That’s going to be the worst place that
you ever go to. Our school is 98 percent on the free and reduced
lunch program. A lot of our communities are very, very poor. LISA STARK: But that hasn’t slowed McBride,
or stopped him from dreaming big. ELISSA MCBRIDE, Ag Teacher, Monument Valley
High: When Mr. McBride and I first started dating, we would go out to eat dinner and
he would draw on napkins his vision of the agro-science center. And I would tell him all the time, you’re
crazy. People don’t invest money like this in education,
especially in Native American children. CLYDE MCBRIDE: I wouldn’t accept no as an
answer. LISA STARK: It took decades to turn his dream
into a reality. A new superintendent found the funding, and
students helped with the design. The Ag Center opened its doors opened in 2011. This program prepares students for careers
and college and much more. DR. SUZANNE SMITH, Native American Veterinary
Services: It’s to get the community and the kids and the students and their parents
involved in a better lifestyle and better health for themselves, for their animals,
and making better career choices and making better life choices. LISA STARK: And it’s working. Students in the veterinary science program
do better than the state average on math and English tests; 100 percent of them graduate
high school, and three-quarters of them go on to college or training programs. The rest go on to a job, numbers that would
be impressive anywhere, but especially for Native American students, who post the lowest
graduation rates of any racial or ethnic group. CLYDE MCBRIDE: We ignite the fire. We give them that passion. We give them that leadership. And then whatever route they want to choose,
then we support that route. PRESHES PARRISH-BEGAY, Senior, Monument Valley
High: They made sure I didn’t fall off track. They made sure I didn’t — I didn’t do
anything to ruin my chances of going somewhere. SHELIA YENCHICK, Graduate, Monument Valley
High: I didn’t really have that much motivation from my parents, but here, the kids, they
really have a lot of that from the teachers and the community. They really help them a lot, and then they
reach their goals. LISA STARK: The program has enriched the students
and their community. With the nearest vet hours away, this is the
go-to clinic for the animals and livestock families here depend on. Animals are considered a sacred part of the
Navajo culture. MYRON HUDSON, Senior, Monument Valley High:
In my culture, it’s like, if you take care of the animals, they take care of you. LISA STARK: McBride’s goal is to launch
his students on to college or good jobs. Many hope to come back to serve their community. CLYDE MCBRIDE: The Navajo belief, and really
the way I was raised, is you want to leave this world better than you found it. And I can tell you that that’s what I took
into this program. And when I leave Kayenta some day, it’s
going to be better off than when I came. LISA STARK: I’m Lisa Stark of Education
Week for the PBS NewsHour.

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