eLuma is committed to impacting lives with the help of each and every individual we work with. We want to make sure that you have the chance to get to know these amazing people through our Leaders in Education series. In this profile, we feature Elle Kooljín Roelofs who is a curriculum consultant and grant author.
Elle Kooljín Roelofs is of Raven moiety, Lukaax.adi Sockeye Clan, and Raven House from the Chilkat region of Southeast Alaska. In our interview with Elle, we learned that education does not just grow human minds. Equitable education grows trees. Sustainable education grows forests.
Elle draws on assets she has gained from formal academic training (B.S. Environmental Science, M.Ed in Curriculum and Instruction, Graduate Certificate in Ethnomathematics from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, Graduate Certificate in Education for Environment and Community from IslandWood and the University of Washington, Forest Kindergarten Residential Teacher Certificate), her field experience as an environmental scientist and Haa Latseen, which is the collective strength of past, present, and future generations, to create culturally sustaining curricula and provide professional development for teachers working with Alaska Native students.
Elle grew up in Southcentral Alaska—far from her relatives and Tlingit cultural center in the Southeast region of Alaska. Southcentral Alaska held greater economic opportunity for her parents but it was difficult to live far from extended family and ancestral lands. Reconnecting to her roots has been a long journey of self-discovery. Along her journey, Elle watched the film Haa Shagóon where her late clan leader, Daanawáak or Austin Hammond, gathered community members, both Native and non-Native, to deliver the G̱uwakaan Ḵoo.éex (peace ceremony). In the speech, he talked about his dream that his grandchildren would have their land. According to those that knew him well, Austin considered all children his grandchildren. Elle was deeply moved by his words and decided this was also her dream. In 2019, she created LandWater, an education consultancy, to support communities whose educational justices are still too often denied.
Elle has studied education, environment, and their intersections (using western and traditional methods) throughout the United States, New Zealand, Guatemala, and looking forward to living in Japan in the near future. Currently, Elle resides in San Diego CA, where her husband serves as an active duty nurse in the Navy Nurse Corps. Elle feels fortunate to have the opportunity to work remotely with her Alaska Native community. She works with clients such as Sealaska Heritage Institute where she has the opportunity to support a variety of programming that serves Alaska Native students such as Baby Raven Reads, an award-winning program that promotes early literacy for Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian families.
In 1902, Elle’s maternal great-great-grandfather Kishwoot initiated the first land claim in the Yukon. She carries on this tradition by claiming we must be good ancestors and live in reciprocity with the water and land—for our children.
We are delighted to announce her as the eLuma Leader in Education for the month of October.
About the Author
Joy Marie Curtis, eLuma CX Operations Coordinator, Master in Education with an emphasis in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, B.S. Early Childhood Education with a minor in International Relationships, experience teaching kindergarten on the Navajo Nation reservation and in rural Utah at a title I school.