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Sanneh Spotlight: Tela Bellaphant

Tela Bellaphant
Food Coordinator


Hi. I am Tela Bellaphant, I was a Dreamline Coach and I am now a Food Coordinator. I worked with American Indian students at Harding High. I grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota. I am currently studying at Metropolitan State University where I am majoring in social work. I am looking forward to working more with youth in the future because I enjoyed working with youth in the past. Prior to the Dreamline program, I worked with youth at an in-home daycare and a community recreation center. While Working at the community center, I loved to encourage students to be more confident in expressing their own thoughts, feelings, and ideas.

Working at: Conway Community Center

Years at Sanneh: 1
Role in Sanneh: Food Coordinator / Dreamline Coach

What is a fun fact about you?: I love horror movies 

What was your day like as a Coach?

First thing, I’d go to the American Indian Support (AIS) Office at Harding High school, greet staff members, check emails, and figure out which students' classes are on my schedule for the day. 

Then I attended second period AIS AVID class (which most of my students took). I’d greet my students and check-in. I wrote notes for lectures and helped students with their class work. I acted as an AVID tutor and assisted students with their AVID Tutorials. When possible, I participated in activities for cultural days and engaged with students during these events. Depending on what worked best for each of my students, I would often attend their classes and sit close to them, ready to offer support. We might also work on class work in the AIS office after lecture or after speaking with the teacher. 

Throughout the day, I would work on data tracking; Dreamline Coaches keep detailed track of internal data such as the amount of time we spent working with students, monthly dialogues, and other learning metrics. At the end of the school day, another staff member and I would provide after school homework help.

What have you learned in this experience?

I learned more about the American Indian culture from Harding High school staff and students. I was also able to build relationships that I don’t think I would have built had I not been a part of the Dreamline program. 

What is one word you would use to describe your time as a coach?

Adaptation. This year especially, a lot of things have changed not only for me but also for my students. I hope to help students and all youth navigate through change. Society is going through a lot of change; calls for social justice are increasing day by day and the global pandemic has created a new normal. I hope I am able to lead youth through these challenging times. 

How did COVID-19 change your work? How do you approach the work now? 

I kept in contact with school staff about how I could continue supporting students while they were distance learning. I Participated in professional development and social distancing training via remote communication so that I would be better able to support students. I also began working at the Sheridan Story to help provide food shelf support for local schools and families. I have continued to provide people with food assistance in my current role as a Food Coordinator for The Sanneh Foundation. In general, my approach is to keep moving forward and do everything I can to support those who are struggling the most. 

What have you found challenging and/or rewarding about your new position as a Food Coordinator?

Hearing appreciative remarks from the community we serve, has been most rewarding to me. My position has improved my sense of patience and understanding for others. I believe I have become a stronger leader and communicator because of this position. It is amazing to see the huge amounts of food The Sanneh Foundation is able to give to the community everyday and I am grateful that I get to be a part of it. However, I have found it challenging to learn more about the logistics behind food distribution. Although, I have come to enjoy the various connections I have made along the way. Wherever I go, I know that I will try my best to make connections with people, especially youth, and support them in any way I can.