The heart of NAMESí approach to education and leadership is the
Morning Star Medicine Wheel of Learning, a value-based concept.
This concept blends the principles of traditional Native American
philosophy with adult learning theory to help students learn how
to address the complex needs of contemporary society.
The Morning Star Medicine Wheel of Learning was
inspired by a Lakota star quilt that was made by a studentís mother.
At the center of this quilt is the Medicine Wheel with its Four
Directions of east, south, west, and north, representing the four
races (black, yellow, red, and white) as well as the four stages
of an individualís life journey (illumination, innocence, introspection,
and empowerment). Emanating from the Medicine Wheel is the eight-pointed
Morning Star whose eight points represent eight values common
to cultural traditions around the world: respect, truth, honesty,
humility, humor, compassion, wisdom, and love. From these principles,
we are developing a values-based, multi-cultural curriculum to
help our students gain a perspective on how academic subjects
can be used in making everyday professional and personal decisions.
For example, from the circle of life, which is
the Medicine Wheel, teach strategies for personal growth, cooperation,
teamwork, and leadership. Stories from the eight points of the
Morning Star (respect, truth, honesty, humility, humor, compassion,
wisdom, and love) provide creative, practical, and humorous applications
of knowledge gained from many cultures around the world. The Four
Directions of the Medicine Wheel provide a framework for problem-solving
and leadership development. Each direction corresponds to a stage
in lifeís journey as well as to specific stages in problem solving.
- The East Direction is the direction of illumination
and new beginnings. When students work here on correct diagnosis
of educational and life-skill needs, grade level assessment,
issues of respect and self-esteem, as well as understanding
the special skills, talents and cultural heritage, which each
student brings to the school.
- The South Direction is the direction of innocence and
new vision. We work with students on developing their goals,
objectives and individual learning plans, based on their vision
of the future. This is done with the traditional meaning of
humility, the sense of their interdependence with family and
- The West Direction is the direction of introspection.
It is also the place where reality and vision can collide. Using
the value of compassion, we work with students to develop reasonable
strategies for achieving their educational goals.
- The North Direction is the direction of wisdom and
accountability. This is the direction where students celebrate
their accomplishments and learn to apply their learning in various
areas of leadership. Truth is an important value at this stage.
To date, three Morning Star initiatives have
been successfully implemented and NAMES plans to continue on with
additional curriculum development and activity-based projects
over the next five years. Current works that have been successfully
- Creation of a Code of Ethics for the organization and
students, based on the eight values.
- The Medicine Wheel Writing Program
- The Morning Star Medicine Wheel Peace Garden (funded
by the Denver Urban resources Partnerships and designed by Denver
Additionally, NAMES was able to secure funding
for part of a special Morning Star art project to enlist the extraordinary
talent of local muralist, Carlotta Espinoza. This noted artist
began work with NAMES students to create a series of multi-cultural
works tied back to the Morning Star. These works related to the
Morning Star-- as a basis on which to build and strengthen our
learning environment and thus our communities.
NAMES knows that art and values-based learning
go hand in hand and are integral parts of a healthy culture and
community. Many of our students come from backgrounds of poverty
and other high-risk socioeconomic factors. In order to help them,
we know that one of the main things we have to do is to help them
get back their sense of imagination. Before people can feel empowered
to take action in changing their lives, they must be able to imagine
other alternatives. With education and imagination, they can then
move forward in a good way, making grounded choices about their
If you are interested in helping NAMES as we
move forward along on our path in developing additional Morning
Star tools and activities, click HERE
to review some of the opportunities we have available. Please
also check back periodically, because we are always adding new
opportunities. You can also contact Lynda Nuttall directly at
303-934-0028, or via email at email@example.com,
if you have additional questions.
The Morning Star Medicine Wheel of Learning is
all about the world of alternatives, the making of choices, and
the resulting forward movement. In this way, we continue on observantly
walking with open eyes.
Morning Star Medicine Wheel Peace
The Morning Star Peace Garden is a community garden project created
and built through a collaborative effort between the Native American
Multi-cultural Education School and Denver Urban Gardens. The
uniqueness of the garden comes from not only the shape of the
centerpiece design, but from its peaceful effect on the students
of the school. The garden is rendered in the shape of the Morning
Star Medicine Wheel, with flowers and foliage making up the nine
different colors of the star points and the interior of the medicine
wheel. The star itself measures approximately 35 feet by 20 feet,
a beautiful space where there was once only asphalt and barren
Although the build of the centerpiece design created the heart
of the Peace Garden, our work has only just begun. In addition
to the annual replanting and spring work on the existing star
area, this year we are planning to chip away at more of the old
asphalt around the sides of the star (currently covered with gravel)
and to further develop the space with flowers and greenery throughout
the coming months. The garden is currently without benches or
surrounding plants or greenery, but we hope to soon make it into
an even more beautiful and welcoming place where students and
visitors can find peace and strength.
you would like to contribute to the Morning Star Medicine
Wheel Garden development, please review our garden wish list
items in the YOU CAN HELP
section or contact Lynda Nuttall at 303-934-0028.
Director, Lynda Nuttall 303-934-8086, or
Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org