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

On the Front Lines Tatum Sallee: Educator

 

April 15, 2021

Washington Grade Center Ada Principal Tatum Sallee is one of many teachers and school administrators who have established themselves as front-line heroes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tatum Sallee has become a front-line hero during the COVID-19 pandemic. Education personnel like Sallee have put themselves in harm's way to make sure students have access to a safe and effective learning environment.

Every day, teachers, school administrators and others in the profession of education strive to provide our children with the best possible education during these difficult times, whether that be from instruction in a traditional classroom setting, or distance learning through computer technology.

While teaching is her foremost passion, in her nearly 10-year career, Sallee has risen to become a principal at Ada City Schools' Washington Grade Center, which serves third and fourth graders, in Ada, Oklahoma. While school administration is difficult in the best of times, COVID-19 has put a new wrinkle on education and factored into every decision made for her school during the past year. Some of these changes will continue after the pandemic is over.

"We began distance learning in March (2020)," Sallee said. "We didn't come back from spring break. It was all new. When we came back in August, one of the first things we did was a one-on-one meet and greet. It gave us the opportunity for students and parents to meet our teachers. This is something we will continue to do next year."

According to Sallee, the most difficult aspect of the last year has been the unknown that teachers have had to face day-to-day. Teachers never knew what their schedule would look like, or when they might return to having in-person classes.

Any given day, they could find out they wouldn't be at school the next day, the next week or perhaps longer.

"That is difficult because our teachers are focused on creating relationships," she said. "Relationships are first and foremost in the classroom. It is incredible to see how teachers have risen to this challenge."

While COVID-19 has been challenging, Sallee looks to the bright side of what the pandemic has taught school systems. Some of the implementations put in place are going to stay when things return to normal for the school.

"As an administrator, I help oversee everything within the school," Sallee said. "In a way, I would like to think administrators are the school's heartbeat. I am so blessed that I get to be a part of anything and everything that occurs (at Washington Grade Center). We help children be the best that they can be."

Education has always factored into Sallee's life. Coming from a family of educators, Sallee wanted to be a teacher from a young age. She attended East Central University and graduated with a degree in education.

Sallee is devoted to the Ada Public School system. As a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation, she knows firsthand how important education is to First Americans and the challenges they face. Within the Ada Public School system, she has served as director of Indian education, where she worked with the Johnson-O'Malley program, Title VI and the Chickasaw Nation Youth Community Project to assist First American students.

 

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