(Photo Submission) Dr. Samantha Benn-Duke was named 2017 Oklahoma Indian Educator of the Year by the Oklahoma Council for Indian Education.
“I believe I do represent Native educators well because I do try to be active in participating in organization, in education, in presenting to others, and helping provide information where its needed and advocating for Native Students,” Benn-Duke said.
Chelsie Rich/Project Specialist
Professor inspired by childhood teachers
OKMULGEE, Okla. — Dr. Samantha Benn-Duke was named 2017 Oklahoma Indian Educator of the Year by the Oklahoma Council for Indian Education.
“I wouldn’t say that I’m any stronger educator than many, many others but I was nominated so that was a step toward getting selected,” Benn-Duke said.
Of Muscogee (Creek) and Cherokee decent, Benn-Duke was inspired by her school teachers and knew from a very young age that she wanted to be a teacher.
“I knew on the first day of kindergarten that I was going to become a teacher and I pretty much stuck with that throughout my life,” she said.
While in high school, Benn-Duke was the president of the Future Teachers of America organization.
She then continued her education journey at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah.
While there, Benn-Duke earned both a bachelor’s in English education and a master’s in education emphasizing school administration.
In December of 2016, Benn-Duke fulfilled the requirements for the curriculum studies doctorate program at Oklahoma State University.
Her research included perceptions of first-language Cherokee speakers and their experiences beginning school as non-English speakers.
Benn-Duke is currently an assistant professor of curriculum and instruction at NSU College of Education and previously taught three trimesters of Composition II at the College of the Muscogee Nation.
“I believe I do represent Native educators well because I do try to be active in participating in organization, in education, in presenting to others, and helping provide information where it’s needed and advocating for Native students,” she said.
Benn-Duke also advocates on a national level as a member of the National Indian Education Association.
She presented sessions at the 37th annual OCIE Conference Dec. 12-13, 2016 to help further teach non-Native educators about ways to meet the needs of Native students.
“I would say one of my main goals really relates to diversity and helping our pre-service teachers understand and value difference, ways of thinking, ways of living and understand that we’re not all raised as mainstream society citizens,” Benn-Duke said. “There are ways of thinking and different ways of behaving and different reasons for doing so.”
Benn-Duke lives in Tahlequah with her husband Brian Duke and they have five children between the two of them.
Her future goals are to continue advocating for Native students.