Guila Curley is blazing a trail for Newcomb students to follow.
After growing up the daughter of two teachers and going to school her entire life in Newcomb, Guila Curley was convinced she did not have a future as an educator or in Newcomb. She attended Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire and graduated with her bachelor’s of arts in Native American studies. She joined the United States Marines, met and married her husband and soon started a family.
That’s when things changed.
“I was trying to brainstorm ideas for a career where I could still be a big part of my kids’ life,” Curley, who has three children, said. “I always thought I would go to law school or become a professor with a focus on Native Studies. Then I saw Arizona State University advertising a program where you could get your master’s degree and get a teaching license at the same time. I had a young family then so I thought I would try it.”
Soon, she was hooked.
“The more classes I took, the happier I was,” Curley said. “After my internship, I could tell it’s what I wanted to do.”
She graduated from ASU with master’s degree in Secondary Education and began teaching at Newcomb High School.
“When I’m teaching, I try to remember my own experiences,” Curley said. “I spent my whole life in Newcomb, feeling like people didn’t care about us. Kirtland was important and Shiprock was important but Newcomb was just the little school. It was frustrating for me and was always in the back of my mind. I knew I wanted to come back to Newcomb and help my people. I want the kids at Newcomb High School now to realize they are worth more than they can imagine and realize they can accomplish any dream they have.”
Curley has made such an impression on her students she was asked by the Newcomb High School Class of 2017 to be the keynote speaker for their graduation ceremony. With her passion for teaching and a heart to serve her community, Curley’s speech was a hit. She has since spoken at the CCSD back to school celebration and been interviewed by author David E. Baugh for his upcoming book.
“When I went to college at Dartmouth, I was not prepared,” Curley said. “I struggled a lot right out of high school. I’m trying to help every student in high school as much as I can so they don’t have to struggle like I did. I want to give them everything I wasn’t able to have.”
Principal Jeff Sagor believes Curley can be a catalyst for positive change in students at Newcomb High School.
"Guila Curley is a truly transformational educator,” Sagor said. “Her constant positivity and hope for a better future for her students comes through in all of the work that she does. Guila takes pride in the work that we do at Newcomb High School and has instilled that pride into her students."