Jun. 29—Santa Fe Indian School announced Tuesday that former middle school assistant principal and Lady Braves varsity basketball coach Christie Abeyta would take the lead as the school's new superintendent.
Abeyta — who steps into the role on a two-year contract Thursday — said she knows that as the coronavirus pandemic winds down, she's facing a tough couple of years ahead.
She's looking to a future of digital learning and more hands-on career training for students at the school in a time she describes as a "new era in history."
"It's really going to be technology based, with a heavy reliance on math and science," Abeyta said in an interview Tuesday. "One of the things the pandemic has brought to the surface is the need for greater capacity in the fields of technology, and educational programs directed at supporting and building infrastructures."
She said she hopes to expand the school's community-based approach to environmental and agricultural science and apply it to fields such as health care and technology.
In the coming year, Abeyta said, she'll be working to craft a new comprehensive plan for Santa Fe Indian School, which serves about 700 students in grades 7-12.
Outgoing Superintendent Roy Herrera of Pecos announced he was retiring in January after eight years on the job. He was the first superintendent who was not of Native American descent to lead the school since the federal government handed it over to what is now the All Pueblo Council of Governors in the early 1970s.
Abeyta is the first woman and fourth superintendent to lead the school in its 44 years of being operated by the pueblos.
She is from the pueblos of Santa Clara, Santo Domingo, Ohkay Owingeh and Isleta.
Abeyta also is an SFIS alumna from the Class of 1992 and the daughter of Francis A. Abeyta, a former well-known basketball, football and baseball coach at the school. He died of an aneurysm in 1996. Her mother was an adviser at Northern New Mexico Community College.
Other members of her family were instrumental in the effort to gain tribal control over the Albuquerque Indian School, which later would merge with Santa Fe Indian School in the late 1970s. She is the niece of Joseph Abeyta, the first Santa Fe Indian School superintendent, the school said in a news release.
Abeyta has a master's degree in language, literacy and sociocultural studies with a focus on Indian education from the University of New Mexico.
She earned her administrative license this year. She had resigned from her coaching position in 2018 to focus on furthering her education but remained working as a teacher during that time.
Herrera said in a statement, "As part of the middle school team, Ms. Abeyta persevered through COVID-19 remote learning and emerged with lessons that will guide SFIS into an internet-enabled educational paradigm, and what that means for Indian Education."
Santa Fe Indian School Board of Trustees President Raymond Aguilar of Santo Domingo Pueblo said the board was proud to have an alum with "fresh" leadership training take the lead.