Rodney Schlit and David Snyder smile at the camera with Lydia Tedone and Steve Gallon

Luminous Eagle recipients Rodney Schlit and David Snyder with AIAN Chair-elect Lydia Tedone and CUBE Chair Steve Gallon.

The National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) American Indian and Alaska Native Council of School Board Members (AIAN) has presented its 2021 Luminous Eagle Award to two former AIAN committee chairs, Rodney Schilt of Oklahoma and David Snyder of Wyoming. 

The Luminous Eagle Award recognizes individuals who, through their long-standing leadership and commitment, have promoted and enhanced equitable conditions, increased access to quality instruction, and improved academic outcomes and career readiness for American Indian and Alaska Native students.

The awards were presented in September during NSBA’s Council of Urban Boards of Education (CUBE) Annual Conference in Atlanta.

“Our country’s American Indian and Alaska Native students are a growing but too often underserved group, and the recent move to more online or hybrid learning has only escalated the challenges they face, including a lack of internet access and technical support,” said NSBA interim Executive Director and CEO Chip Slaven. “With their advocacy and tenacity, the 2021 Luminous Eagle Award winners, Rodney Schilt and David Snyder, are champions, building supports and breaking down the barriers that prevent our Native students from receiving the high-quality, equitable education they each deserve.”

Schilt is the current president of the board of Oklahoma’s Adair Public Schools. He has served on the Oklahoma State School Boards Association (OSSBA) Board of Directors since 2003 and is a former president of the association.

Oklahoma has the largest number of Native American/Alaska Native public school students in the country, according to federal education data.

Schilt expressed his gratitude to the award committee: “I’m just so humbled and so thankful, and it’s just amazing. Thank you.”

David Snyder is a former school board member representing Wyoming’s Fremont County School District #21. As the past school board chair, he was a key player in getting the Indian Education For All legislation passed through the Wyoming School Board Association’s Delegate Assembly. As the chair of the AIAN council, Snyder was involved with the movement that brought forward the work to end institutional racism.

In accepting his award, Snyder stressed the importance of NSBA’s Equity Councils and urged all conference attendees to become members. “Join all the councils,” Snyder said. “I’ve always said as I’ve talked to different people, ‘You don’t have to look like me to join the council.’ All you got to do is serve those students, and if you do serve them, this is a great place to be able to find those resources that you need.”

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