The innovative, celebrated UNM POLLEN program is saluting a major milestone after seven years.
POLLEN, which stands for Promoting Our Leadership, Learning, and Empowering Nations (POLLEN) program, is housed in the College of Education and Human Sciences (COEHS), and is extending sincere congratulations to Kyron White, the program’s 50th graduate.
White is now the 50th person to be trained in Indigenous leadership– language, spirituality, medicinal healing, environmental well-being and most importantly how to be a respectful, effective principal or superintendent. He joins 49 other dedicated individuals now working in these roles in Native or Indigenous-serving schools.
"It's a great honor and blessing to lead the POLLEN program as we honor our students, schools and tribal communities. Our pollen graduates are making extraordinary impacts that continue to transform our Native serving schools," POLLEN Coordinator and Educational Leadership Associate Professor Shawn Secatero said.
White found his calling while serving as a program coordinator at Dine College, working his way up to leadership in education.
“I was amazed by the amount of student commitment the students had to ensure they were successful. This led me to start a career in education because I wanted to influence and make an impact, especially working with it firsthand,“ White said.
From there, word of mouth led him to the POLLEN program. In partnership with the New Mexico Public Education Department Indian Education Fund, White was able to get on the pathway to his goal, and gain in-school experience with Native youth.
His experience in the POLLEN program has been nothing short of life-changing. He was also able to complete it while teaching social studies and coaching volleyball at Thoreau High School.
“POLLEN is a very rewarding program. The professors are extremely supportive and knowledgeable of native youth, issues and policies surrounding education. I was able to experience this in almost every course I took,” White said. “As you go along through the program with your cohort, you develop a sense of belonging and responsibility to each other, and to your community, to do well and succeed. It is rewarding.“
He is now principal of David Skeet Elementary in Gallup-McKinley County Schools. He is immensely proud to be in the new position, as well as to be POLLEN’s 50th grad.
“This was such an honor. POLLEN has given me so much that being the 50th graduate of the program means that I am only contributing to the bigger picture. This picture is the reason POLLEN was created and the impact it has on reservations in the country,” White said.
POLLEN’s sixth cohort begins in 2024. Those interested in the program, geared towards advanced level 2 teachers wanting to attain an accelerated educational specialist certificate and administrative licensure can find out more here.