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News about the Navajo Nation TSP programs

In April, TSP Facilitator Amy Becenti drove through a ferocious snowstorm to bring TSP’s creative literacy and wellness program What’s In A Story (WIS) and Take A Minute™ Everyday Self-Care Exercises to students and educators in the Gallup and Shiprock areas of the Navajo Nation.IMG_4624


Amy gave a presentation of WIS with Early Childhood Multicultural Education students at Navajo Tech. University, and met with the Program Director for the UNM Gallup Campus Early Childhood and Family Center. Zuleikha, Director of TSP, joined Amy in Gallup and together they met with the Associate Supervisor and Director of Counseling of Gallup-McKinley Schools for a fruitful outreach meeting.


What NTU Early Childhood students had to say about the TSP program

“Excellent program. I loved it. It was very new to me. I was really excited to hear the story. And the exercises relieved some of my stress.” “These exercises will help young and older children who can’t sit still.” “What’s in a Story Project turned out to be great. I was overwhelmed with school but this fun exercise and storytelling relieved my stress.” “This program was the best thing that we have learned.” “I liked it and enjoyed it. It made me feel like a little child again.” “I think this program would be great for our community and for the young children in our schools.” “I would like to implement this program.”



Zuleikha presented Self-Care Sessions for the medical community in the hospital at Gallup Indian Medical Center. The staff in each department had a lot of laughs as they relaxed and took some time out for breathing, stretching, and looking at ways to change mundane everyday habits. Zuleikha also had a wonderful meeting with the Gallup Battered Family Services Director, Willard Eastman, and the staff. Plans were discussed for future Self-Care sessions.


What staff at Gallup Indian Medical Center had to say about the Self-Care sessions

“Felt heavy at the beginning, but once I did the first exercises I felt lighter.” “We need to do this during morning and afternoon breaks. Just need 15 minutes.” “We have a stressed staff and we need this for their breaks.” “I am pregnant and unable to breath comfortably. After this session my lungs felt open and I’m able to breath easier.” “I liked all the exercises because they gave me energy and more self-awareness about self-care.”










The elementary schools in Gallup McKinley school district welcomed Amy and What’s in a Story (WIS) back with excitement. Many TSP WIS sessions began with a enthusiastic discussion about stories the students heard on the previous visit. Amy and Zuleikha reconnected with many previous school staff and principals and some new people as well.



– Catherine A Miller Schools (formerly Churchrock Elementary), aided by Gloria Begay,Navajo (Diné) Language teacher.

– Indian Hills Elementary School – Pauletta White, GMSD Associate Superintendent popped in during the last session.

– Uplift Community School – received a welcome reception from Director Jim Cammon and staff.


Gallup McKinley Teachers’ observations of the program

“I love the implementation of the stories and the movements and how they tie in together very well.” “The combination of sign language and Diné helps the children to be more involved.” “The students were very enthusiastic about this program. They were alert, focused and engaged with the facilitator.” “My students asked tons of questions and really began to take ownership of the story and their connections to the story.” “The program should be implemented in every class, every day.”










Back on the road, driving north to Shiprock, Amy was joined by TSP facilitator Karla Populus, who volunteered to photograph and document the WIS program. Together they visited schools in the Shiprock Consolidated School District.



– Nizhoni Elementary School – large groups of K-5 students gathered for WIS stories and exercise in the Music Room.

– Eva B Stokely Elementary School – huge groups of combined classrooms in the school library for WIS.

– Naschitti Elementary School – classrooms so enthusiastic they requested the exercises to be counted in different languages‑English, Navajo, French, German, Japanese and Chinese…students adding their own language expertise, laughing with glee.

– Dream Diné Charter School – a short visit at the end of the journey to check out the new school whose curriculum is based on the Diné Philosophy of Learning. They were given a tour by Alyssa Begay, Outreach Coordinator, who explained how the students were currently studying farming traditions of the area.


Shiprock – Consolidated Teachers’ observations of the program

“Ms. Becenti was outstanding.” She was enthusiastic, kept the students active and she was very funny. Students were eager to listen and interact with the storyteller.” The culture and wellness aspect of the story is well done, which the children enjoyed.” “Exercising was very good for the students.” “The students were eagerly anticipating the storyteller coming into the classroom. “The students and I love the program and would like to have it here more often.” “Awesome!”



Amy hit the road to return to her home in Denver just in time to brave another snowstorm. In spite of many miles of driving between schools and health centers, TSP facilitators have the greatest perks in Navajo Nation: warm welcoming faces, laughing children, and great Navajo mutton/hominy stew, fry bread and the best fruit pies in the Southwest.