UNC Pembroke’s newly established First Americans’ Educational Leadership program recently marked its inaugural year with a special dinner and guest lecture.
Dr. Zoe Locklear, interim dean of the School of Education, was in attendance along with several School of Education faculty and staff in support of its 14 participants, including three UNCP students who completed the program.
FAEL is a federally funded program which provides professional development support to American Indian students seeking a Master of School Administration degree.
“The FAEL Project seeks to institutionalize a culturally relevant program in the School of Education’s Educational Leadership Program that will improve outcomes for American Indian students and communities,” said Dr. Camille Goins, project director and assistant professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Specialties.
“This program has afforded the UNCP MSA Program the opportunity to provide aspiring American Indian administrators with the support needed to become highly effective in these communities including ongoing professional development and mentoring support. This year, we have achieved many of our goals and tonight we celebrate our participants success.”
Chad Brewer, who went through the program and earned his degree in the spring, was among those recognized in the Chancellor’s Dining Room. Brewer is an eighth-grade math teacher at Magnolia Elementary School.
“The FAEL program has been a great asset to my repertoire in the classroom,” he said. “The tools I’ve learned in the program have helped me understand and learn more about the students so I can better meet their needs. It has helped me to think more in depth about culture, not just American Indian culture, and how it ties into how we educate our students.”
Kenda Collins and Kenissa Bird were also recognized for completing the program. Collins and Bird participated in The Graduate School commencement ceremony last Friday.
FAEL participant and Scotland County teacher Jeremiah Moore said the professional development and networking opportunities he received helped sharpen his skills in the classroom.
“I have always strived to be a culturally responsive educator, and now the FAEL program has allowed me to continue offering this style of teaching from an administrator’s approach.”
Before dinner, students listened to a presentation from Dr. Susan Faircloth, an Indigenous scholar and director of the School of Education at Colorado State University. Faircloth, a member of the Coharie tribe, spoke about the importance of culturally responsive teaching.
“There is a sense that we have to rewrite our stories,” she said. “We have an opportunity to make sure the rights that were taken away from us as Indigenous peoples are given back to us. And a way to that is by telling our own stories.”
The FAEL project is being 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.