Academic Programs

    Elementary Education

    FDLTCC’s Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Elementary Education is a four-year degree program that is state approved and qualifies you to become a licensed teacher in Minnesota. The Elementary Education program is looking for students who are passionate about working with young children in grades K-6.

    The program provides the foundational training in education theory, practice, and assessment, while at the same time interweaving Anishinaabe knowledge, values, and traditions into the curriculum. Students have an opportunity to be placed in a variety of school settings that are culturally diverse and welcoming. For those students who enjoy working with younger children and would like to “test the waters”, students can start off in the two-year associate degree program in Elementary Education, and if it is a fit continue into the bachelor’s degree program. Join us and become a leader in the education field.

    Elementary Education at FDLTCC

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    Over 90 Elementary Education teaching openings are anticipated per year through 2030 in northeast Minnesota.


    Accelerate your learning with hands on engagement and access to instructors with an average class size of less than 10 students.


    Elementary instructors earn median salaries over $60,000 per year in northeast Minnesota.


    The Anishinaabeg and American Elementary Education program’s associate of science degree references the Spider Framework developed by Dr. Lori Lambert.  This framework uses a “two-eyed seeing” approach that allows for a dual perspective with Indigenous and western foci. It is a culturally based education approach that is blended and rooted in native language, family and community, content that is meaningful and culturally grounded, context that is structured in a cultural learning environment, and finally, assessment that is gathered and maintained in a culturally appropriate way. This approach is infused throughout the entire A.S. curriculum.

    The Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education program combines culturally responsive pedagogy (CRP) and Indigenous teaching and knowledge into the curriculum in order to build a strong program that meets the needs of our teacher candidates, the students they will teach, and the community. Our practice is guided by the belief that a candidate’s acquisition of Anishinaabe knowledge, skills, and dispositions are central to the preparation of culturally competent professional educators. Building on the “two-eyed seeing” approach, the program has successfully interwoven the required state standards required for teacher licensure with our cultural standards making this a very unique program offering.

    Our Advantages

    Coursework within the Elementary Education program offers opportunities in leadership, community innovation, and partnership development. Key components of the program include promoting an understanding of each student’s individual cultural values and the cultural values of others while preparing students for the teacher licensure in Elementary Education (K-6).

    Students will complete a sequence of courses and practical experiences in preparation for a teaching career. Program requirements include general education courses, teacher-education courses, and classroom experiences, including a long-term student teaching assignment in a number of local school environments. Establishing connections with other students in the program to share insights and experiences from the hands-on training is a key component of our program, and in becoming a successful teacher after graduation.

    Cultural Relevance

    Culturally responsive pedagogy (CRP) “recognizes students’ differences, validates students’ cultures, and asserts that cultural congruence of classroom practices increase student success in schools” (Ragoonaden, 2017, p. 24). It is an approach that that focuses classroom curricula and practice on students’ cultural frames of reference (Gay 2010; 2013). While Indigenous teachings is focused specifically on Indigenous knowledge, it also compliments and reinforces CRP.

    Indigenous knowledge provides that every student whether Aboriginal or not, is unique in his or her learning capacities, learning styles, and knowledge bases. Knowledge is not what some possess, and others do not; it is a resourceful capacity of being that creates the context and texture of life. Thus, knowledge is not a commodity that can be possessed or controlled by educational institutions but is a living process to be absorbed and understood (Battiste 2002, p. 15).

    Because of the research conducted on CRP, the Elementary Education program will deliver culturally relevant pedagogy to aspiring teachers to enhance their understanding of the importance of cultural approaches to education and meeting the needs of all learners. The program aims to draw from a range of knowledge systems and worldviews, using techniques such as storytelling, talking circles, theatre arts, music and dance, hands-on activities, Ojibwe language, and sustainable environments.

    Battiste, M. (2002). Indigenous knowledge and pedagogy in First Nations education: A literature review with recommendations. National Working Group on Education and the Minister of Indian Affairs. Ottawa, ON: Indian and Northern Affairs Canada.

    Gay, G. (2010). Acting on beliefs in teacher education for cultural diversity. Journal of Teacher Education, 61(1–2), 143–152.

    Gay, G. (2013). Teaching to and through cultural diversity. Curriculum Inquiry, 43(1), 48–70. doi: 10.1111/curi.12002.

    Ragoonaden, K. (2017). Culturally responsive pedagogy: Indigenizing curriculum. Canadian Journal of Higher Education, 47(2), 2017, 22 – 46.

    Conceptual Framework

    The conceptual framework defines the mission, values, cultural standards, and professional standards of the FDLTCC Education Unit. By its very nature, the framework must be a document of stability and consistency while at the same time being dynamic and responsive to the changing priorities, research, new insights, and professional mandates.

    The FDLTCC Education unit’s conceptual framework flows from the mission, vision, and values of the college and is tightly woven and guided by Gidizhitwaawinaanin – “our cultural standards”. Gidizhitwaawinaanin are recognized by the Anishinaabe communities that are served and provides the foundational principles that guides the unit in preparing our teacher candidates to work effectively in diverse K–12 schools.

    • Vision: The vision of the FDLTCC Education Unit is to be transformational leaders in culturally responsive pedagogy and Indigenous knowledge by embracing Niindaa’iwedaa o’o gikendaasowin, which means sending knowledge into the future by embedding Anishinaabe knowledge, culture, and traditions into the curriculum and instilling these teaching practices in our future educators.
    • Mission: The mission of the FDLTCC Education Unit is to work within our communities to prepare caring, competent educators by promoting equitable, inclusive, and transformative educational practices that are based on Anishinaabe knowledge, traditions, and culture.
    • Cultural Standards
      • GIKENDAASOWIN – Knowing Knowledge — To prepare our teacher candidates to be problem solvers who strive for continuous learning and growth.
      • GWAYAKWAADIZIWIN – Living a Balanced Way –– To provide teacher candidates the opportunity to recognize the importance of living in harmony with the community and are prepared to use a collective approach to understanding and deciding on a course of action.
      • ZOONGIDE’EWIN – Strong Hearted –– To provide a foundation on which we build and strengthen each teacher candidate’s resilience, innovation, and passion.
      • AANGWAAMIZIWIN – Diligence and Caution –– To develop teacher candidates’ capacity to proceed carefully, after identifying, discussing and reflecting on logical and ethical dimensions of political, cultural, social, and personal life.
      • DEBWEWIN – Honesty and Integrity — Encourage teacher candidates to develop a deeper appreciation of their own worldview and the worldview of others.
      • ZAAGI’ IDIWIN – Loving and Caring — To encourage the teacher candidates’ development of healthy, caring relationships built on respect for all.
      • ZHAWENINDIWIN – Compassion — To encourage teacher candidates to develop an empathetic appreciation of the arts and humanities as a way to understand the human experience.

    Higher Learning Commission
    Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College is fully accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, which is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

    For additional information regarding accreditation, student success, and other areas related to academic accountability, contact the HLC at (800) 621-7440 or visit the website at For more information about FDLTCC’s regional accreditation status, see

    Minnesota Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board
    The Minnesota Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board (PELSB) has approved the B.S. in Elementary Education program at FDLTCC leading to teacher licensure. PELSB, formerly the Minnesota Board of Teaching, provides leadership for improvements in teacher education programs in order to assure that the state has well-qualified, professional teachers. More information is available on the Minnesota PELSB Website.

    • PELSB provides a list of state approved teacher preparation programs, searchable by institution and content area. To view our PELSB-approved licensure program, enter “Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College” in the “Provider” field.

    World Indigenous Higher Education Consortium (WINHEC)
    Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College’s Anishinaabeg Gikendaasowinan (all American Indian focused programs including American Indian Studies, Elementary Education, Early Childhood Development, Fine Arts, Ojibwe language, and community outreach and extension programs) are accredited by the World Indigenous Nations Higher Education Consortium (WINHEC). For a list of WINHEC Accredited Institutions, visit

    Learn more about FDLTCC accreditations

    Program Planners Applying to the Program

    In addition to Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College admission requirements, students must complete the required general education courses for the Bachelor’s in Science degree in Elementary Education program prior to applying for admittance into the Elementary Education program.

    Declaring education as a major does not guarantee admission to the Elementary Education Program, nor does completion of the general college courses and pre-requisite courses. Acceptance into the program is competitive and based on the application criteria as outlined in the application process below.

    Who? Education majors who meet the criteria listed below the semester “before” completing the application.

    What? Application Instructions will be provided via email to students in the beginning of each semester.

    How? Complete the online application when the link is emailed to you. The Elementary Education Major must align with the Degree Audit Report (DARS). Permission is required to change your major after acceptance into the program. Applications are reviewed after the “Priority Deadlines” listed above and then approximately every 2 weeks after. Students will be notified by email of their acceptance status. Note: Students who have applied but not accepted must submit a new application to be considered in future admission cycles.

    Application Components

    Multiple criteria have been developed and will be used as considerations into accepting potential candidates into the Elementary Education program. To be eligible for consideration into the Elementary Education Licensure program students must complete the following in either fall or spring semester of their sophomore year:

    • Submit a completed online application
    • Complete a disposition self-assessment in Student Learning and Licensure
    • Complete a background check/fingerprinting
    • Complete the Liability Insurance Form
    • Have a Cumulative GPA of 2.00 or higher in the following courses:
      • GPA of 2.00 in ENGL 1102
      • GPA of 2.00 in MATH 1050
      • GPA of 2.00 in EDU/AMIN 2300
    • Demonstrate 15 hours of K-6 experience working with a student or students in a classroom setting.
    • Complete an interview.

    Important Program Information

    1. Students will not be allowed to register for 3000 and 4000 level Education (EDU) courses until they have been formally admitted to the Elementary Education program.
    2. Field experiences and student teaching require school district criminal background checks. If you think you may have an issue, you may want to initiate a background check yourself before you seek admission. Applicants with any prior conviction(s) may be unable to complete a program of study in Elementary Education.
    3. Your disposition for the role of professional educator will be assessed throughout the program. This includes things such as attendance, reliability, and communication skills.

    Student Transfer Information

    1. FDLTCC’s Elementary Education program may consider a transfer of course from other institutions if a syllabus is provided and the course is found to meet 100% of the required state standards assigned to the course being substituted. If field experience is a requirement of the Elementary Education course, the external course must contain an equivalent field experience and documentation must be provided for the review.
    2. Please Note: All coursework required for licensure must be completed with a letter grade (not Pass/NC).
    Faculty and Staff

    Kim Spoor, Dean of Education
    Dr. Spoor has been in the field of education for over 27 years. She received her B.S. degree from The College of St. Scholastica, her M.Ed. from Harvard Graduate School of Education, and her Ph.D. from Capella University. She started out as the 6-12 principal at the Fond du Lac Ojibwe school before moving into the Director of the Ojibwe Culture and Language Education Program at the College of St. Scholastica where she also served as education faculty. She also worked for 17 years at Capella University where she served in various roles including, Faculty Chair for Teacher Education and Licensure programs, Academic Director of Accreditation, and Academic Director of Accreditation and Program Quality.  Dr. Spoor is currently the Dean of Education at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College (FDLTCC). In addition to her work at the FDLTCC, Dr. Spoor is a Professional Educator and Standards Licensing Board (PELSB) site reviewer and a member of the Peer Review Panel (PRP) as well as a content reviewer for Requests for Initial Program Approvals (RIPAs). She is also Higher Learning Commission (HLC) Peer Reviewer. In the past, Kim was a Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) Annual Reviewer and CAEP Councilor.

    Sara Montgomery
    Sara Montgomery, Gwayakogaabawi ikwe, Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College (FDLTCC) faculty, Education Coordinator. I received my Bachelor of Arts from The College of St. Scholastica, Master of Education from the University of Minnesota, Duluth, along with the licenses to teach in MN within a K-12 setting (License include K-12 classroom, bilingual-bicultural, American Indian language and culture, and coaching). My professional career has been in education for the last 35+ years and has extended along the spectrum of education as a teacher in the K-6 classrooms, Principal at Fond du lac Ojibwe Tribal School, transitioning to the collegiate level as faculty at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College in the Elementary Education Program. Serving the community locally, nationally, and internationally to prepare future teachers with indigenous knowledge and pedagogy for all students.

    Tara Graves
    Tara Graves has 29 years of educational experience. She began her career as a Head Start Teacher in 1993 and worked her way through college while working full-time. Tara graduated from Fond du lac Tribal & Community College in 1999 and continued to pursue her education. In 2003 she graduated with the Gekinoo’amaagejig (the ones who teach) cohort from University of Minnesota Duluth with her Bachelor of Applied Science, teaching license K-6, with a minor in Ojibwe Language. She was an elementary teacher for the Fond du Lac Reservation while continuing her Master’s in Education Degree and graduating in 2006. From 2007-2010 she was the director of a grant funded program, Project Intersect with the University of Minnesota, and Fond du Lac Band. The Institute on Community Integration (ICI) teamed up with two northern Minnesota schools, American Indian artists, and the University’s Department of Curriculum and Instruction to create an innovative project that’s enhancing students’ understanding, enthusiasm, and performance in standards-based art education, language arts, mathematics, and science. 2010-2015 Tara was hired as the American Indian Education Director for Cloquet Public Schools, ISD #94. Tara then took another opportunity that came to her fruition. Accepting a position at Fond du Lac Tribal & Community College, Director of Nandagikendan (Seek to Learn) Academy. Providing opportunities for American Indian High School students seeking College and Career readiness. In 2018, as the Associate of Science Degree program began its partnership with Winona State University, she became the Education Facilitator for the Elementary Education Program. Currently with this position, she facilitates field experience and placements along with recruiting for future teachers! Her circle has been fulfilled! She enjoys working with partnering districts, assisting students in their placements, and applying her background and knowledge to the education team!

    Student Resources


    I chose FDLTCC because of its size and the curriculum. When I first came here in 2019, I was just looking for what I needed to volunteer, perhaps in a crisis shelter. I met with Don Jarvinen, and the rest is history.

    My favorite thing about FDLTCC is the people. I’ve met fantastic students, faculty and staff who go above and beyond what I expected.

    It is awesome here at the FDLTCC Education Program because it is like a family here, if you need help or are struggling with anything, you have quite a few people who will help you out.