Sly retires after 25-year career with CN

BY KENLEA HENSON
Former Reporter
03/05/2018 12:00 PM
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Dr. Gloria Sly speaks with Cherokee Nation employee Marcia Soap during Sly’s retirement reception on Feb. 27 at the W.W. Keeler Complex in Tahlequah. Sly retired in December from her position as education liaison. She received a 25-year service award on Dec. 29. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Dr. Gloria Sly, second from left, talks with friends and fellow Cherokee Nation employees during her retirement reception on Feb. 27 at the W.W. Keeler Complex in Tahlequah. She worked for the tribe for 25 years. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Friends, family and colleagues of Dr. Gloria Sly wrote their regards on a card during her Feb. 27 retirement reception at the W. W. Keeler Complex in Tahlequah. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
TAHLEQUAH – Friends and family gathered Feb. 27 at the Tribal Complex to honor Dr. Gloria Sly’s years of service to the Cherokee Nation as she retired from her education liaison position.

Sly received a 25-year service award on Dec. 29, but she began working for the CN long before that. The CN citizen graduated from Northeastern State University with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and mathematics in 1976. Weeks later, she began working for the CN’s Early Childhood Unit, developing daycare curriculum.

“When I went into education as a young person I didn’t know a lot about what we could do as individuals, so I thought ‘well I need to teach and help all Cherokee students learn as much as they can about how they can reach their potential.’ That is what guided me through the whole of my career,” Sly said.

With a passion for education, she obtained a master’s degree in school administration and counseling from NSU. She also holds a doctorate in education administration and staff development from the University of Oklahoma.

Sly has worked “off and on” for CN since 1976 and in several areas of CN Education Services throughout her career.

Aside from education liaison, she served as Sequoyah High School superintendent, assistant director to the Education Services director and director of Language and Cultural Research Center. She also worked within higher education, Johnson-O’Malley and Government Relations.

“I enjoyed every position I held within the (Cherokee) Nation because each time I held a position I learned more and more about the capabilities and dreams of our youth and what they wanted to do and what they were about. It was amazing what individuals can do given the opportunity,” she said.

Sly was also involved in developing educational programs at the CN, including the immersion program and the “Remember the Removal” Bike Ride. She said she’s seen growth and positive changes in the programs through the years.

“In (19)84 when service leadership and outdoor aspirational education was introduced, I was afraid of all the riff that one had to take to ride a bike across half the nation on the Trail (of Tears), but that was back then when we had minimal support, like the marshals and first aide responders weren’t going with us,” she said. “We get the best of the best today.”

Like the growth in the programs, Sly has also seen growth in students. She said the RTR program was developed to instill leadership in Cherokee youth and realization of the tribe’s “nationhood.”

“Over the years I have seen all these individuals come back and serve in the Cherokee Nation, and if they don’t come back to the Cherokee Nation they go on to other entities and they are leaders, and I love it,” she said.

She said what she’s appreciated most about working for the CN is its support to further and develop language and educational programs.

As for retirement, Sly said she doesn’t have any immediate plans but would like to take some classes in areas of interest. Other than that, she’s learning how to adjust to retirement.

“People say just slow down and take your time. Well, I have always had a schedule, so I don’t know what it’s like to not have schedule in front of me. So now when I wake up in the mornings I am thinking, ‘what am I going to do?,’” she said. “So I am just sitting back and seeing what retirement is all about.”

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