American Indian Student Engagement with Ms. Pacheco


Gabriel Davidson, Editor

LaCher Pacheco is joining Sahuaro as Student Success Specialist for Native American Student Services. Having been in education for over 10 years, Ms. Pacheco taught first grade for two years and is currently working towards becoming a college professor, though pedagogy wasn’t her first choice. In fact, young adult literature is her passion, having taken a class on the topic at the University of New Mexico.

While working towards her master’s, part of Ms. Pacheco’s promise to her scholarship committee is to give back to her community through working to serve students and their families, whether in a school proper or as part of an organization. Having grown up on a reservation herself, spending her childhood hanging out with different Pueblos with parents who spoke non-academic English and grandparents who only spoke their indigenous language, she is deeply familiar with her roots and culture, including the struggles that many American Indian kids face. Learning English as a second language from cereal boxes, tabloids, billboards, and graffiti, she found herself more immersed in slang and Spanish cognates than classroom English, scoring as a D student for most of her education, doing the bare minimum to be successful. Reflecting on where she is now, Ms. Pacheco said, “I never imagined I’d be in a different city speaking and teaching English.” In high school, her counselor told her she wasn’t fit for college, but her parents wanted her to get a degree so she pushed herself, taking 10 years to get her bachelor’s and afterward, applying for her master’s. And after? Getting a Ph.D.

Owing to her formative years, Ms. Pacheco stresses the efficacy of accessible literature and reading in education, especially in student engagement. “I am here to help American Indian Students with academic support, student/parent advocacy, and financial assistance for students who have a 506 form on file for weekend academy, summer school, sports, fine arts, and graduation. I also help students with cultural presentations, and connect students and their families to community partners.” 22 federally recognized American Indian tribes exist within Arizona, and TUSD currently serves members from 36 federally recognized tribes.