The findings from this case study (Exton, 2008) add to the research on effective teacher education programs. The researcher found six factors which contributed to developing teacher identity among secondary teachers who participated in an American Indian teacher education program. The first three factors (personal, home, and community beliefs) were: 1) giving back to American Indian communities, 2) serving American Indian students, and 3) becoming empowered as American Indian teachers. The next three factors (school-based experiences) were: 4) cohort-based peer support, 5) preparation for content area expertise, and 6) teachers as role models.

One of the most significant lessons from Exton’s research is about program continuity: there will be gaps in the pipeline of American Indian teachers as long as tribes are dependent on competitive government grants to support teacher education programs. The take-away message is that community partnerships between tribes, school districts, colleges and universities, and business leaders need to be maintained for long-term educational goals. Training American Indian teachers is an investment in the diversity of all communities.