By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
One Feather Asst. Editor
CHEROKEE, N.C. – Consuela ‘Consie’ Girty, a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI), has been selected to serve as the new superintendent of Cherokee Central Schools – a post she will assume on June 1.
“My first reaction was just excited to have the opportunity and honor,” she said. “I told the Board that if you had asked me 10 years ago if this was my plan – no, it wasn’t. But, the past five years as a director I’ve learned so much in that role and with the administrative team. Being in school at the same time, it kind of went hand-in-hand so that knowledge was carrying over. That was nice.”
Girty, a CCS employee since 2003, has been the Hope Center director for the past five years.
“I feel like we have so many talented students in our school system. Just being able to recognize that and use those talents, whatever they may be – some of it is athletic, some is artistic, some is academic – we have such a realm. And, just being able to see the whole student in each environment is huge for me. And, being able to provide an equitable shot at learning for all of our students no matter what field they come in on, that’s the biggest thing for me, so that all of our students are engaged in learning and all of our students are using their maximum potential is the big thing.”
Girty said she’s looking forward to continuing the work she’s been doing for the past two decades. “I’ve been working with the admin team for about five years now and we are on the right track. We are doing things and implementing things on a regular basis that I was able to even see, like I said, while I was in my school link at Western talking with other potential administrators and other people in fields all around the area that we were ahead of the game. We are actually moving in great strides towards those things. So, just maintaining that, keeping that consistency, and continuing that drive toward what we’re working for. We’ve got a lot of things going into place now.”
“We are doing the right thing, and I think we need to continue on the right track.”
Girty feels being a member of the EBCI helps her make connections to the students and families of CCS. “Native Americans as a whole are underrepresented in the education field, everywhere. We’re underrepresented here too, even in our own district. Sometimes that’s hard because you cannot make that connection with our community. Our community is very guarded, especially when it comes to education, from things from the past and things of that nature. So, you have to connect with families and students before you can make a difference in their lives. So, to me, that’s the big piece of it is being able to make an impact because that family trusts me. Building that trust as being an EBCI community member is huge.”
And, the community support is already being felt. “The amount of support I’ve received in the last two days, through messages and texts and things, is humbling. I think that’s the biggest piece of it, that I am from this community and I am an enrolled member. I believe in all children.”
“I really, whole-heartedly believe in our EBCI children, and I think that’s the trust that I can gain with the community.”
Jennifer Thompson, CCS Board of Education chair, said in a statement, “On behalf of Cherokee Central School Board, we are excited to have Consie Girty, a community member who has dedicated her career to serving the Cherokee community, and especially Cherokee students, as our new superintendent. We are excited to embark on this new journey with her as she strives to take Cherokee Central Schools to the next level.”
Information from CCS states, “Ms. Girty completed her undergraduate degree at N.C. State University (NCSU) and earned her Birth-Kindergarten licensure from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington (UNCW). She completed her master’s degree in comprehensive education/birth-kindergarten through Western Carolina University (WCU). Most recently, she has attained a post-master’s certificate in public school leadership from WCU. Ms. Girty plans to continue her education in June 2024 as she begins working on her doctorate in educational leadership at Western Carolina University.”
Dr. Michael Murray retired as CCS superintendent at the end of 2022. Dr. Beverly Payne has served as interim superintendent since that time period, and she will resume her regular duties as assistant superintendent on June 1.