Tony L. Dearman, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma who is originally from the Bunch area in Adair County, has been chosen as the director of Bureau of Indian Education (BIE).
U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced Dearman’s appointment Nov. 2.
Dearman has served as the associate deputy director for bureau-operated schools since November 2015, where he helped implement the BIE reorganization and reform, overseeing 17 schools, four off-reservation boarding schools, and one dormitory. Before that, Dearman served as the superintendent at Riverside Indian School, a BIE-operated boarding school in Anadarko, where he helped develop and plan a new academic high school building and two residential dormitories.
Dearman was born in Sanders Flats, near Bunch, to Roy and Norma. His mother is deceased. He has three sisters, Stacy Hart, Teena Dearman and Tonya Murphy. His father Roy still resides in Sanders Flats.
Dearman graduated from Cave Springs School in 1987 and went on Bacone College in Muskogee where he earned an associate of arts degree. While at Bacone he played baseball for two years and met his future wife, Lisa.
Dearman continued his education and baseball career at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah where he earned a bachelor of science degree in education and a master's degree in school administration. He currently holds science, physical education, principal, and superintendent certifications.
He began his teaching career in 1993 when he taught science and coached baseball and football at Sequoyah High School in Tahlequah. In 1998 his baseball team made it to the state semi-finals.
Dearman brings over two decades of experience as a teacher, coach and administrator in BIE operated and tribal schools. Dearman was superintendent of the Riverside Indian School in Anadarko from 2006 to 2008, then returned in 2010 to again serve as superintendent of that school. From 2008 to 2009 he was the acting education line officer for the BIE Seattle, Wash., office. He served from 2009 to 2010 as the education line officer for the BIE New Mexico South office in Albuquerque.
In October of 2015 he was appointed associate deputy director of the BIE operated schools, off-reservation boarding schools and peripheral dormitories. From there he was appointed director of the agency.
As director of the BIE, Dearman will oversee all facilities providing schooling for nearly 50,000 American Indian and Alaska Native students from the country’s federally-recognized tribes. He also oversees the deputy bureau director for school operations, chief academic officer, and three associate deputy directors who are responsible for education resource centers serving 183 BIE-funded elementary and secondary day and boarding schools and peripheral dormitories located on 64 reservations in 23 states.
Dearman said Wednesday some of his pending duties include filling vacant positions “so we can provide the services our students deserve.
“I’m excited about the opportunity,” Dearman said. “I look forward to working with our tribes and having positive student outcomes.”
Dearman said he will be visiting the schools in the near future and hopes to visit in the area and in Tahlequah.
Tony and Lisa Dearman have three children, Tanner, 23, Spencer, 20, a student at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, and Kinsey, 15.
The BIE also serves post-secondary students through higher education scholarships and support funding to 27 tribal colleges and universities and two tribal technical colleges.
Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director
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