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Expanding the Circle Staff

Jean K. Echternacht, Ed.D. (formerly Jean Ness)

Jean was a Principal Investigator and Project Director at the Institute on Community Integration at the University of Minnesota for twenty-four years. The focus of her work was the development of programs for and with American Indian high school and tribal college students to support the retention and completion of their goals. To that end Dr. Echternacht directed several federally funded projects that address both the high school and college needs of American Indians. Dr. Echternacht, along with her colleague Jana Hallas, co- authored the second edition (2017) of “Expanding the Circle: Respecting the Past, Preparing for the Future” (ETC), a project-based transition curriculum for American Indian students that addresses social emotional learning as well as other key skills to prepare them for careers and postsecondary education. The first edition of ETC was published in 2002 has been implemented in BIA schools, school districts, and tribal and community colleges throughout the country. Dr. Echternacht has had the privilege of training American Indian educators, parents, elders, and youth throughout the U.S. and abroad on project-based concepts related to the transition of Native youth. Dr. Echternacht has been a frequent speaker at state, national, and international conferences on the issues in the transition process for American Indians for over 20 years.

Jana Hallas, M.Ed., is an Education Specialist at the Institute on Community Integration (ICI) at the University of Minnesota. At ICI, her work focuses on project coordination, training and technical assistance, primarily on implementing Check & Connect, an evidence-based student engagement model. Ms. Hallas is currently working with sites around the world to implement Check & Connect, including collaborating with Indian Education departments in several district to increase student belonging and engagement with American Indian youth. In addition, she is working with the Minnesota Department of Education in conjunction with Minnesota school districts to increase the graduation rates of American Indian students in Minnesota. Ms. Hallas co-authored the 2nd edition of Expanding the Circle with Dr. Echternacht.
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