Superintendent of Public Instruction Janet Barresi recently welcomed Dwight Pickering as the new Director of American Indian Education at the state Department of Education.
“We are so excited to have Mr. Pickering fill this position,” Barresi said. “We have been looking for ways to develop strategies at the state level to effectively educate American Indian children and to infuse this rich part of our state culture and heritage into our curriculum.”
Pickering, of Sapulpa, is a member of the Caddo, Otoe, and Kaw Tribes and worked most recently as the Education Director for the Caddo Nation. In that position, he was responsible for all education programs, including development, implementation and evaluation of higher education, adult education and job placement and training programs as well as some supervision of the nation’s Head Start Program.
"I am very excited about this position, and the opportunity it provides to work with not only the education of Indian children but all children in the State of Oklahoma," Pickering said.
Pickering has a general education degree from Haskell Indian Jr. College in Lawrence, Kan., and a Bachelor’s of education from Tarkio College in Tarkio, Mo.
In his duties at the state Department of Education, Pickering will work with American Indian tribes in implementing a proposed new state plan of education for American Indian children. He also will direct the planning and development of statewide technical assistance and professional development programs to improve the learning environment for American Indian children enrolled in Oklahoma public schools.
Desa Dawson, director of World Language Education at the state Department of Education, said the Oklahoma Advisory Council on Indian Education (OACIE), a relatively new council of advisors established by the state Legislature, participated in the director’s selection process by serving on the interview panel along with agency staff.
“We very much appreciated their willingness to offer their expertise in this matter,” Dawson said.
Pickering fills the vacancy left by the department’s much beloved Valeria Littlecreek, a long-time advocate for Indian education issues. Littlecreek retired from her position but remains active in Indian affairs.