The Department of Diné Education hosted its holiday gathering and staff appreciation day on December 20 as part of the festivities to cap off the year.
DODE Admin Planner Darrick Franklin finished the preparations for the event earlier this week and invited staff from each DODE program across the Navajo Nation to stop by the Navajo Education Center.
Staff were welcomed into the DODE Auditorium and received an opening prayer from Senior Education Specialist Jamey Lowrey and a welcoming message from Acting Superintendent Claudia Edgewater. Despite the cloudy, rainy weather in Window Rock, the auditorium was packed with DODE staff sharing stories and talking about their accomplishments and challenges from the past year.
There were numerous activities and icebreakers for our staff to enjoy, including a holiday T-shirt contest and a holiday ugly sweater contest. The cheers, applause, and laughter that filled the auditorium as entrants showed off their designs of holiday garb added to the spirit of friendship that DODE leaders wanted to convey through the event.
Guest speakers also took the floor to share stories and anecdotes with DODE staff. One of these speakers was Lyle Harvey, who has previously partnered with the Navajo Nation Library to speak to event guests. The winter stories shared by the Diné people are one of our most honored traditions that we look forward to every year. Not only are they enjoyable to hear and tell, but they are crucial for keeping our traditions and history alive for new generations. We want our audiences to engage with our stories and to pass them along and eventually share their own.
The centerpiece of the gathering was the potluck-style meal provided by DODE leaders with contributions from staff. Guests were served and then got to gather around the decorated tree in the auditorium while a decorative fireplace video played on a large monitor and the speaker piping Christmas carols.
Lastly, we capped off our gathering by having DODE Program Managers take time to voice their appreciation for all their staff. Certificates of appreciation were distributed to everyone who attended the gathering, and managers got to speak to how long the staff have served the department as well as how crucial their role is for keeping the department running and helping to fulfill our mission of strengthening our Diné language, culture, way of thinking and being, and building and maintaining high academic standards for students and families.
Thank you once again to all our DODE staff. We wish you all a safe and happy holiday season.
Cody M. Begaye
Senior Public Information Officer
Department of Diné Education Administration