PEMBROKE — The First Americans’ Educational Leadership Program at UNC Pembroke recently held a social to celebrate the 2020-2021 academic year.
The celebration, held in the UNCP chancellor’s dining hall, allowed program participants to come together to celebrate a year like none other, but one that participants felt better prepared due to their enrollment in the FAEL program.
“The camaraderie among this group is amazing!” stated Dr. Camille Goins, project direct and assistant professor in the Master of School Administration program.
The First Americans’ Educational Leadership Program is a federally-funded program that provides financial assistance and professional development to support American Indian students seeking a Master of School Administration degree or add-on licensure at UNCP.
Guest speaker and UNCP alumna Katie Eddings delivered a powerful speech on the value of culturally responsive teaching and transformational leadership. Eddings is the 2019 Burroughs Wellcome Fund North Central Region Teacher of the Year and current educator at Sun Valley Middle School. She is a Robeson County native and a proud member of the Lumbee Tribe. While sharing her passion for education, Eddings encouraged program participants to “know their students” and build a bridge from the school to the community.
At the celebration dinner, Dr. Goins recognized the recent MSA graduates and add-on completers and the mentors who have worked with the participants throughout the academic year.
The 2021 program graduates are Patience Allen, Sammie Barnes, Rebecca Chavis-Nolley, Lakola Cook, Kayla Hunt, Brandy Jacobs, Philip Oxendine, Wynona Oxendine, Oliver Tapaha and Tiffany Tyler. They were honored for their academic accomplishments and transformative leadership throughout their time in the MSA program.
Dr. Goins stated, “The participants have worked tirelessly throughout the program through coursework, professional development and leading at their schools through transformative practices. Tonight, we celebrate their successes.”
Preservice mentors Drs. Sheri Dial Herndon, Tanya Head, Jill Hathaway, Darlene Cummings, Bridget Johnson and Wenona Mishue provided mentoring support to FAEL program participants. To close out the celebration, program participants Patience Allen, Rebecca Chavis-Nolley and Jeremiah Moore honored Goins and FAEL staff member Leslie Locklear with an eagle feather.
“On behalf of the FAEL participants, we would like to give honor where honor is due, and we honor Dr. Goins and Dr. Locklear tonight. My mom always told me to honor those in leadership because the weight they carry is so heavy. Dr. Goins and Dr. Locklear have truly helped us to transform into assertive, Indigenous leaders who know the importance of telling our story but also understand how crucial it is to allow others to tell their story,” Allen said.
A Spring 2021 graduate, Chavis-Nolley stated, “Being a part of the FAEL program has provided me with all opportunities to grow as a transformational and culturally responsive leader. In addition, together, we developed a network of professionals who are eager to collaborate and see one another achieve their vision and be successful. Through the leadership of Dr. Goins and Dr. Locklear, I am eager to take the next steps as a leader because they have demonstrated what leadership should look like. Find your voice, know your vision, create your mission, and work together to see that mission and vision achieved.”
The FAEL project is funded by a five-year, $1.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to address the shortage of American Indian administrators in the state’s public school districts with a large American Indian student population.