Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

Choctaw Johnson-O'Malley Recognized for Outreach, Service


February 26, 2020

Choctaw Nation

Chief Gary Batton, right, and Assistant Chief Jack Austin Jr., present the $1,000 scholarship from the National Johnson-O'Malley Association to Raigen Elaine LeFlore, of Pittsburg Senior High School.

DURANT, Okla. – The Choctaw Nation brought home honors from the 2020 National Johnson-O'Malley Association Conference earlier this month in Washington, D.C. The Choctaw JOM program assists not only Choctaw members, but all Native youth from age 3 through the twelfth grade in the 10½ counties of southeast Oklahoma.

Shane Haddock, Johnson-O'Malley Director for the Choctaw Nation, was particularly impressed with the recognition of southeast Oklahoma students.

"Only four national scholarships are awarded for the whole country and Choctaw students claimed two of them," Haddock said.

Raigen Elaine LeFlore, a senior attending Pittsburg Public Schools, was named winner of the Steven Pruitt Memorial Scholarship and Kennedy Laine Thornburg, a senior with Poteau Public Schools, won the Chief Earl Old Person Scholarship. Each will receive $1,000 to use toward the college of their choice.

Durant Public Schools' Indian Education Program was named Region 3A Exemplary Program of the Year.

Two educators also were spotlighted. Sheila Kirby, of Heavener Public Schools, was named Region 3A Teacher of the Year. Kirby has served as director of federal programs and JOM coordinator in Heavener for 13 years. She oversees several grants for the school and has been known to go door to door in her community collecting needed documents to make sure students are able to receive JOM benefits.

Choctaw Nation

Representing the Choctaw Nation Johnson-O'Malley Program at the 2020 National JOM Association Conference held earlier this month in Washington, D.C. are, from left, Choctaw Nation JOM Director Shane Haddock; from Durant Public Schools' Indian Education Program, Director Charlene Hibbs and Administrative Assistant Neta Wesley; and Choctaw Nation JOM Coordinators June Praytor and Jessica Huffman.

Judy Jones, of the Panola JOM Program, was named East Central at-large Teacher of the Year. Jones volunteers as the JOM coordinator for the Panola JOM Program after 35 years in public education teaching business, elementary school and adult education. She has been named Teacher-of-the-Year twice in her career.

The Choctaw Nation was also recognized for its longtime support of JOM nationally as a Gold Donor. The Choctaw Nation sponsors JOM programs in 75 schools in southeast Oklahoma. A total of 13,140 students from 80 tribes are served. The $1 million annual JOM budget allows for an average expenditure of $65 per student. This supplement to school expenses covers ACT tests and other college and career readiness requirements, FFA dues and various school fees, and classroom supplies, including tablets and other technological equipment.

"The funds can also be used for field trips," Haddock said, adding that he is looking forward to the new Choctaw Cultural Center set to open next school year. "I'm hoping it will be an educational destination for many schools that JOM funds can help with."

The Choctaw Nation Johnson-O'Malley office, located at the Choctaw Nation Headquarters, 1802 Chukka Hina, Durant, can be reached at 800-522-6170, ext. 2258 or via email at


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