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POLLEN (Promoting our Leadership, Learning and Empowering our Nations)

The vision of the POLLEN program began in 2016 as the UNM Educational Leadership faculty identified the need to increase the number of licensed school administrators who serve Native American students in public, Bureau of Indian Education, tribal grant, and Native charter schools in New Mexico.

Through research, teaching, and service the POLLEN program has evolved as a successful cohort model for advanced level 2 teachers to attain an accelerated educational specialist certificate and administrative licensure through indigenous based leadership and philosophy.

group of pollen cohort students displaying their diplomas

Our cohorts were funded under the Kellogg Grant, New Mexico Grow Your Own Teacher legislative grant, U.S. Department of Education American Indian Professional Educators Collaborative project, and the current Los Alamos National Laboratory Foundation Grant.

POLLEN has produced over 49 graduates in five successive cohorts as program funding will expire in December 2022 and we will celebrate our 50th POLLEN graduate in Spring 2023.

As part of honoring Indigenous leadership in education, corn POLLEN was utilized by Southwestern tribes to recognize outstanding leadership attributes of tribal members, and to pray for all living things, as well as educational success and persistence.

Recognizing the importance of pathways to community and educational leadership, the University of New Mexico is pleased to announce the POLLEN (Promoting our Leadership, Learning, and Empowering our Nations) program. Funded by, and in partnership with the New Mexico Public Education Department Indian Education Fund, the POLLEN Program is designed to increase the number of licensed school administrators serving Native American students throughout the state of New Mexico.
The Educational Leadership Program at the University of New Mexico has actively recruited our sixth cohort of eligible educators in Native American serving schools who hold an masters or bachelors degree to pursue their Administrative Licensure. Those admitted to the cohort will receive a stipend covering tuition, books, and technology fees in this accelerated pathway to licensure.

The anticipated cohort start date is Fall 2023. Required coursework will be specifically designed to prepare future principals to be responsive to the needs of Native communities throughout the State of New Mexico. All courses will be delivered through a blended online/face-to-face format to ensure access to communities throughout the state, and will center on Native American leadership, vision, epistemology, and culture in addressing current issues in Native American education.

Read the POLLEN EdS brochure here.

Eligibility Requirements

You are eligible to apply to this program if you meet the following criteria:

  1. Possess a valid Level IIA or IIIA New Mexico Teaching license
  2. Masters or bachelors degree in education or related field of study from a regionally accredited college/university.
  3. Native American teacher who is interested in becoming a licensed school administrator or school leader.
  4. Commit to serving as a school administrator, in- structional coach, or program director in Native serv- ing district or Bureau of Indian Education school in New Mexico or Navajo Nation.

Program of Study

By participating in the POLLEN program, students will be required to complete the following courses with Indigenous content for New Mexico Administrative licensure.

Educational Specialist Certificate Core Focus:
(24 hour credit program for teachers who have earned a masters degree):

  • LEAD 503 – Data Informed Instructional Leadership (3 hours)
  • LEAD 509 – Leadership and Organizational Change (3 hours)
  • LEAD 521 – School Finance and Resource Management (3 hours)
  • LEAD 560 – Instructional Leadership and Development (3 hours)
  • LEAD 561 – Legal Issues for School Leaders (3 hours)
  • LEAD 596 - Administrative Internship (6 hours)
  • LEAD 520 - School Principalship ( 3 hours)

Masters degree with Administrative Licensure Focus:
(36 credit hour program that includes core courses above):

  • LEAD 501—Leadership in a Democratic Society (3 hrs.)
  • LEAD 505— Visionary Leadership for Learning (3 hrs.)
  • LEAD 529— The Adult Learner (3 hrs.)
  • LEAD 530—Conflict Resolution in Schools (3 hrs.)

Benefits and POLLEN Success

Our unique POLLEN program offers the following benefits and success milestones from previous cohorts which include the following:

  • A stipend to be used toward tuition, and technology fees.
  • The opportunity to complete coursework for the New Mexico Administrative License in four semesters with indigenous based curriculum.
  • Mentorship and support from UNM POLLEN program faculty prior to, throughout, and after the conclusion of the program.
  • The establishment of a professional net-work of fellow school leaders committed to improving Native American education within and beyond the State of New Mexico.
  • 97% On time Completion Rate
  • 96% Licensure Test Pass Rate—1st Attempt
  • 87% Placement in Leadership Position
  • 87.5 % Retention as a principal or assistant principal.

Meet our Faculty


Application Guidelines

Students admitted into the POLLEN program must meet all requirements for admission into the University and the College of Education Educational Leadership program. UNM College of Education faculty will provide hands-on guidance and support for candidates that meet the required qualifications.

Read the full application guidelines


  • Submit a UNM Graduate School Admissions Packet Website:
  • POLLEN Letter of Intent stating goals and commitment to becoming a school principal, leader, instructional coach, etc. in a Native serving school.
  • All college transcripts from accredited universities or colleges (Unofficial can be submitted but official preferred).
  • Writing Sample on Indigenous educational or leadership issues, (3-5 pages, double spaced, typed, and APA citations).
  • A strong letter of recommendation (supervisor, former professor, or tribal leader)
  • UNM COEHS Educational Leadership Biographical Form

Contact: Dr. Shawn Secatero, POLLEN Coordinator; 505-277-6018 or

Important Dates


  • Call for Applications: Jan 15, 2024
  • Application Packet Deadline: March 1 2024
  • Review of Applications: March 1-15, 2024
  • ZOOM Interviews for Applicants: March15-30, 2024
  • Acceptance Notifications: April 5, 2024
  • In Person POLLEN Orientation: June 1, 2024
  • Summer Instruction begins: June 3, 2024

Professional Licensure Disclosure

Our program has determined it meets professional licensure requirements in the state of New Mexico.  

UNM POLLEN Program Leadership Framework

Diagram of the framework of the POLLEN model