Iris Chimburas

Project Director

BioMy name is Iris Chimburas. I am the daughter of David and Marie Penney of Lewiston, Idaho. My grandparents are the late Ira Penney and JoAnn Jose of Kamiah, Idaho and George and Marie Allen of Flandreau, South Dakota. I am Santee Sioux and also an enrolled member of the Nez Perce Tribe of Lapwai, Idaho. I grew up in Flandreau, South Dakota, but currently reside in Idaho. I am a wife to one lucky Carlo Chimburas a Northern Ute. Together we have five beautifully ornery children: RedSky 25, Ione Skye 23, Lakota Rose 20, Wanbli GoodThunder 16, and Juan 11. They are my greatest accomplishments! I have a grandson, Wihinape Suuhghut! He is 2-years-old and rules our world!
  I am currently the Director of Indian Education and Grant Coordinator for the Lapwai School District. My family is ultimately my driving force. I learn from my children just as I learn from my students. Once a student passes through the door they become OUR CHILDREN. We care for them just as we would our own. There is no difference. I have been in the field of teaching for over 25 years. I have a Bachelor Degree in Education and my Master’s Degree in Special Education. I currently serve on the Idaho State Department of Education’s Accountability Oversight Committee and have also served on the Idaho State Department of Education’s Professional Standards Commission for the last 3 years.
At Lapwai, we created a school environment where teaching is culturally relevant and learning occurs in a culturally supported, learner-centered context, where student’s strengths are identified, nurtured, and utilized to promote student achievement. Teachers demonstrate the value of subjects in a wider life context by connecting student interests to real world experience. Increased academic rigor, deeper knowledge of content fields and instructional methods that are culturally responsive motivate and engage students and have a positive impact on student achievement. Education has given me the opportunity to work directly with our community/teachers/students in establishing a Culture of Hope. It requires profound changes that challenge many to rethink how they view teaching and learning. Together we have been able to create a school atmosphere focused on optimism, respect, safety, and success. We EMPOWER our students. Students gain the knowledge and skills they need to be able to empower themselves. They have respect for themselves and for others. They identify positive paths in life. Their high expectations of themselves lead to high achievements and allow them to grow to their full potential so that they may be positive leaders within their communities.

Rhonda Taylor

Admin Assistant

BioMy name is Rhonda Taylor and I am an enrolled member of the Yakama Indian Nation born and raised in Toppenish, Washington and a graduate of Topy Childhood with a minor in Health & Coaching from Lewis Clark State College. I’m married to Emmit Taylor Jr and have four children and two grandsons. I have worked for the Lapwai School District since 2010 as Attendance Clerk, Building Secretary and currently Administrative Assistant for the Lapwai Indian Education Department. In my free time I love to weave traditional baskets and attend my childrpenish High School. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Earlen’s sporting events. Career: Provide Administrative support to the Lapwai Indian Education Department by ordering supplies for classroom teachers, front office support and student services. Coordinate and organize meetings for our office including Lapwai Culturally Responsive PLC, Indian Parent Committee and Indian Education trainings and webinars. Support special projects by helping coordinate and purchase supplies for the Young Women’s & Young Men’s Leadership Conferences, the student Giving Tree, Native American Awareness month, and school wide culturally events and activities. Provide administrative support the After-School program teachers, school counselor, office support staff with various reporting for student services on the school’s Tyler computer system. Maintain an Excel spreadsheet for the Title VI/JOM for the Individual Native American Student count, compile CIB’s and Title VI ED 506 Indian Student Eligibility forms for both the Elementary and Middle/High School.

Jenifer Williams

Guidance Specialist

Bio My name is Jenifer Williams and I am an enrolled member of the Nez Perce Tribe and a descendant of the Confederated Tribes of Umatilla and the Omaha Tribe. I was born in Port Angeles, Washington but primarily raised in Lapwai by my parents, Jenny and Dwight Williams. I am a graduate of Lapwai High School. I earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Lewis-Clark State College in Justice Studies and a Master’s degree from Gonzaga University focused on the study Organizational Leadership. My free time is spent with family and my two fur babies. I love being an Auntie to my nieces and nephews and truly enjoy berry picking, root digging, traveling and hiking when the weather is nice. My current position is serving as the Guidance Service Specialist with the Indian Education Department at the Lapwai Middle-High School. I have been employed by the Lapwai School District for just over one year. My primary duties include providing support services for students and offering assistance with college transition skills. Assist students with dual credit opportunities, mentoring in career development techniques and offer college and career readiness activities such as coordinating various college campus tours. I also assist in coordinating events that include the annual leadership conferences, FAFSA night and Native American Heritage month activities.

LoriLynn picard

Home School Liaison

BioMy name is Lorilynn Picard. I am an enrolled member of the Nez Perce Tribe. I am the mother of Skylin and Sonny. My parents are Bill and Lori Picard. My maternal grandparents are Mary Jeannie Wheeler Strong and the late Byron Strong. My maternal great grandparents are the late Wallace Wheeler and Betsy (Corbett) Wheeler. My paternal grandparents are the late Theodora “Teddi” Rose (Allman) Picard and the late Gene Picard Sr. My paternal great grandparents are the late Marie (Arthur) Allman and William Allman Sr. I am a graduate of Asotin High School, I have an Associates Direct Transfer Degree from Northwest Indian College, a Bachelor’s of Social Science degree in Psychology from Lewis-Clark State College, and a Teaching Certificate from Washington State University. I am employed by the Lapwai School District Indian Education Department, as the Home School Liaison. I serve as the liaison between school and home for students and parents. I am housed in the Empowerment Room, which serves a variety of students throughout the school day. Students can work on credit recovery, online courses, college courses, study hall, and homework in the Empowerment Room. The goal of the room is to be a safe place for students, and help them be successful here at school, and hopefully outside of school too. I asked a few students to write down what Empowerment was to them. Some of the responses were: “Empowerment is working to push through obstacles”, “In this room, I want to grow more in sociality”, “Never give up on me”. Their words help guide the environment of this room, by helping us meet their social and emotional needs, which in turn will help them grow as a student.


Cultural Specialist

Bio This exemplary educator represents the very heart of the Lapwai School District. Her 42 years of service to-date have included Elementary Cultural Arts Teacher, Physical Education Assistant, Indian Education Secretary, District Accounts Payable/Secretary, Indian Education Home-School Liaison, Native American Arts, and continuing most recently as Cultural Arts Specialist for the Indian Education Department. Her wealth of knowledge included majoring in Elementary Education at Lewis-Clark State College. This amazing mother and grandmother has two daughters and helped raise seven other children, five of whom graduated from Lapwai High School. When asked about her students, Mrs. Williams replied: I love their energy, their bright minds, their love of life, and I love seeing them grow up. And now, thinking back to when I started, some of those students are now grandparents! My full and enjoyable life and the circle continues on. I guess I am just not ready to stop this journey just yet. The students I serve, me, and the people around me are here because of the sacrifices of our Ancestors and that is powerful! I want them all to be able to seize their heritage, to expunge the effects of colonization, and also expunge and heal from how the boarding schools caused damage to our past generations.