The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma said goodbye to a longtime leader in the tribal community Tuesday.
The tribe held a party Tuesday evening to celebrate Choctaw Education Director Joy Culbreath as she stepped down from her post and into retirement.
Culbreath has been in education for 50 years. She spearheaded projects such as the preservation of the Choctaw language program and higher education programs.
“She is a pioneer,” said Chief Gary Batton, who said he has been able to work with Culbreath for about the past ten years and he considers it an honor.
“Joy is a joy and a blessing to work with,” he said.
According to Batton, though Culbreath will no longer be the director, the Choctaw Nation isn’t losing her leadership.
“All these people she has helped train and educate are in place now,” said Batton, adding that Culbreath has helped develop leaders to sustain the tribe for generations to come.
Batton went on to describe many projects and accomplishments made possible by Culbreath.
Culbreath, herself laughed, saying “It takes two men to replace me,” as she introduced the men set to take her on her duties.
Culbreath announced at the party that the education program was not getting rid of her so fast.
“Even though I’m retiring, I’ll still be around,” said the long time educator.
She said she will still be working on special projects with the nation such as an Oklahoma State University IT project.
“There are many projects. I just won’t have any employees, thank God,” said Culbreath, laughing.
She thanked the many people who helped her in her position and who supported her through her career, including her children, husband and brother.
- Jessica Breger can be reached at (580) 634-2162 or on Twitter @jbreger_news