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Cocopah Tribe of Arizona

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The tribe added a twist to the concept of a school open house. Rather than having members visit Tierra Del Sol Elementary School, the tribe invited the teachers to have dinner and meet with parents at the tribe's cultural center. Cocopah Education Director Kris Miller said the idea behind the dinner was to allow teachers to come to the reservation to develop a closer relationship with Cocopah parents. "In our culture if you can sit down and eat with someone, then there's a special situation there between you and that person," Miller said. "We wanted kids and parents to see their teachers outside the classroom." Miller said Cocopah children sometimes have more frequent attendance problems because parents don't stress education. "Our parents aren't getting involved," she said. "A lot of them haven't finished high school themselves. We want parents to get to know teachers personally." Some 40 teachers attended the open house. "We just feel like we want to make sure we are bridging any distance between families and the school," Principal Lynn O'Connor said. "We work with all our children, of course, but we work hand-in-hand with the tribe to see that everyone is comfortable."