Dr. Joseph Chee says that the most rewarding aspect of his profession is learning from his students. Last week, the New Mexico Public Education Department distinguished his dedication and named Dr. Chee as Indian Educator of the Year during their Spring Government-to-Government Summit in Española.
Dr. Chee, a Navajo language teacher at Career Prep High School, said that receiving the award was really rewarding, especially since he feels that he isn’t just teaching, he’s sharing his life experiences with students, and learning from them.
“When they interact with their grandparents, it is so amazing. The amount of conversational language they walk away with from the class and to be able to use it with their grandparents is the most memorable aspect of teaching for me,” said Dr. Chee.
“The families come and thank me sometimes, but I thank them because they are the ones keeping it going. To me, it feels like I’m the one who’s learning from the children, they are teaching me what’s important and what’s effective,” he added.
Dr. Chee has been teaching for over 25 years, 16 of those at the faculty of Career Prep. Currently, he teaches social studies, Navajo language, and Navajo history through Diné College.