How long have you worked at PSIS?
I just started my 5th month at Paschal Sherman Indian School. I have consulted, trained and supported PSIS since 1985 when I returned to Omak. My mother, her siblings and my grandmother all were boarders back when we called it St. Mary’s Mission Boarding School. My great grandmother on my mother’s side attended boarding school at Kettle Falls. So, I am the first of four generations on my maternal side to be raised in the same home of my mother. I did not attend a boarding school, but I have generations of stories thus, I have always felt connected to this land and school.
What is your educational/professional background? Please accept my bullet points, to old to bore you:
- 1975 High School Diploma –Mary Walker High School (12 years)
- 1985 BEd.-Eastern Washington University-K-12 Teacher Certification
- 1990 MEd.-Washington State University-K-12 Counseling Psychology ESA Certified School Counseling
- 2010 PhC. (ABD)-University of Washington-Social Policy [Health/Education/Welfare Policies through the lens of Indigenous Governance]
- Received multiple scholarships, fellowships and academic awards, in addition to a 2000 Department of Commerce Director’s National Public Service Award.
- 35+ years in Education across ECE, K-12, Community College, Four year colleges and Graduate School Teaching and Research. I am honored to have a number of publications alongside multiple distinguished Indigenous & non-Indigenous Scholars from UW, UNM, Univ. of Arizona and other distinguished Universities.
- I have been an Administrator for 22 years in various capacities, e.g., health/education/welfare, higher education, Tribal Governments, and in 2012 was an elected ‘Tribal Leader’ for one term with our CCT Tribe. I chose not to run a second term, reasons, my heart has always been in Education, I felt my skills could be better used working with my Tribe and not for my Tribe. I had to ask myself, “How can I use my education & experiences to promote more Tribal teachers, business managers, nurses, doctors, lawyers, plumbers, information management technicians, biologist etc.?”
- Professionally, I have been blessed with the best teachers, researchers and bosses anyone could ask for. All have influenced my professional growth and career. They provided me opportunities to learn from best practices grounded in research, travel to witness nationally recognized innovative programs and participate as a leader building on such programs. I have visited 36 of 50 U.S. States including Alaska and Hawaii, Six European Countries, New Zealand, Six of the 12 Provinces in Canada, North and Southern Mexico, also including hundreds of Tribes across the country and Canada.
- For almost a decade, I continue to participate on the National Congress of American Indians – Policy Research Center’s NARCH 7 Advisory Committee. Also, the other priority board I participate on is the newly developed Columbia Plateau Indigenous Education Alliance Board an Eastern WA organization, alongside other Plateau Tribes, Schools, Colleges and Universities supporting Indigenous Knowledge, Language Revitalization, and Teacher Training Institutes etc. to improve local Plateau Indigenous Education.
Describe your family:
My Family is my life. It was our first child that guided my aspirations to pursue an education to allow her life more opportunities than our own. I believe all parents wish this for their children. This year, Rick and I will be married 44 years. We were high school sweet hearts, young parents and have grown ‘older’ together. He recently retired as a general contractor, business entrepreneur and now supporting our children’s business. We have three children, our Eldest Toni M Holder, Manager ICU Nursing @ Central Washington Hospital in Wenatchee, she and Jason have given us three beautiful granddaughters, Ceria Sky (CWU-Elem. Ed) and working at a private child care facility. Kaija Jewel Lovelady (Sr. Leavenworth High) and Rayen River Blue (7th grade). Our second & middle child Roni Holder-Diefenbach, Executive Director Okanogan County’s Economic Alliance, also, Kevin and her own and operate Kruse Electric Inc., they have blessed us with two grandchildren, Cayle James (Olympia-Manager of Warhammer) and Cayden Raen, her goal is majoring to complete a double Business Accounting Degree at University of Providence-Great Falls Mt., and interning for a Certified Public Accountant Firm. Last but not least, 8 years later we were bless with our Son, Adrian Joseph (AJ) Holder, he works in Security for Chief Joseph Dam, our son has blessed us with Kai (16), Piper (6), and then he and Stacy have added Adrianna (5), Sophia (4) and Nicholas (2). They have their hands full and are doing an excellent job! WE are truly blessed and LOVE them ALL!
What are your hobbies?
Besides research, reading and relaxing in front of a ‘hallmark’ movie. My goal was to grow up and become a teacher and coach. I coached for 11 years in Omak and loved every moment. Reasons now, our primary hobby is following grandchildren’s sports or other school events. Rick and I more than anything LOVE to chase our grandchildren and their parents to AAU basketball, wrestling, rodeo, football, soccer, Jazz concerts, and now we have grandchildren and their boyfriends in college sports, and a grandson in Robotics. WHEW! We are happy that our children are providing for their children and we get to be grandparents.
Why did you choose PSIS?
To be honest, PSIS is a Tribally Controlled School, I have witnessed Tribes reform their schools by Tribalizing the organizational structure through language revitalization, developing core curricula that integrates Tribal History, Culture, Governance, Science and Environmental Justice, grounded in the local Tribe’s knowledge system framework. Currently, I am 62 years old, I was a professor, teaching and administering programs customized for Tribal workforce needs e.g., vocational/technical and professional. I have worked with many former PSIS administrators, I’ve watched them come and go (with one exception, my cousin Debbie Simpson, she was amazing). I did NOT want another outsider to come in and manage PSIS like a Bureaucratic Government School. It is not a government school, it is funded by BIE, however, it is a Tribal School and the Colville Business Council and PSIS Staff and Students deserve to take PSIS into the 22nd Century reclaiming our Tribal Knowledge Systems, speaking our dialects, reforming our classrooms applying Indigenous Pedagogy, moving classrooms to the field partnering with F&W, Tribal Forestry & Environmentalists, learning and growing future scientists & stewards of the land, water, and air for all including our four-leggeds, winged ones, building on the Tribe’s salmon recovery efforts for future generations. PSIS must expose students to curricula that include Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Math (STEAM) that validates traditional Tribal science. We have a lot to do and I am committed to use my skills and experiences to take PSIS into the 22nd Century by exercising our rights to build from our language, history, culture and spiritual ways of knowing. I am here to give my heart, knowledge & experiences alongside our administrators, teachers, staff, parents, students and Tribal Leaders to support PSIS to be the School of Tribal Knowledge Systems, validated through Indigenous research and principles. It can be done.
What are your hopes and dreams for PSIS?
My dream, in three years, Paschal Sherman Indian School will have a solid strategic school-improvement plan exercising Tribal Sovereignty through PL 93-638 Self-Determination & Education Act to become a competency-based, culturally-responsive school. Why three years, my hope is to build local capacity, improve our fiscal health, support teachers by implementing professional development plans to advance our staff’s upward mobility opportunities. In three years, I hope to have PSIS facility maximized and functioning so we have a full career/technology/vocational program in place for students. Not all students are college bound, PSIS can be a space for preparing students from school-to-work, in hopes to fill gaps within our Tribal workforce. It is time that ‘us’ olders step aside for the young ones. As an education institution, we must provide each staff member the opportunity to improve their qualifications by offering pathways to AA degrees, then toward BA & Teaching Certificates, then Masters Degrees to become specialists or future administrators and even toward PhDs, let’s build our own scholars. I believe it can be done, PSIS can be a future Language and Cultural Teacher Training Institute. Yes, I do have a dream for PSIS…my dream is our future generation’s reality, we can make it happen…but, we need a long-term comprehensive plan…and we must be united.