The American Samoa Community College (ASCC) has reached another historical milestone with the appointment of faculty member To'oto'o'ole'a'ava Dr. Evile Fa'atauao Feleti of the Samoan Studies Institute (SSI) as chairman of the Governing Board of REL (Regional Educational Laboratory) Pacific, a subsidiary of the national Department of Education that provides evidence to inform educational policy and practice in the US-affiliated Pacific. While other individuals from American Samoa have previously served on the REL Pacific Board, this marks the first occasion when an educator from ASCC has been appointed as chairman.
REL Pacific partners with key stakeholders in American Samoa, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Guam, Hawaii, the Republic of Palau, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands to develop evidence that can inform consequential decisions about policy, programs, and practice. Key stakeholders include organizations with decision-making authority and the ability to influence education policy and practice, such as state and local education agencies, school boards, institutes of higher education, and student, family, and community organizations. The organization is one of 10 Regional Educational Laboratories covering the entire United States and its territories, all overseen by the Institute of Educational Sciences, the statistics, research and evaluation arm of the US Department of Education.
Dr. Feleti graduated from ASCC in 2003, going on to earn his Bachelor and Masters degrees from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and finally his Doctor of Education degree from Northcentral University in 2021. While still completing his Masters degree, he returned home in 2006 to begin teaching with the SSI. Today, Dr. Feleti serves as Chairman of the Samoan Studies Department, in addition to being a fulltime instructor and a member of the College’s General Curriculum Committee and the General Assessment Committee. “Every semester, I serve as a resource to support a standards-based curriculum, effective instructional strategies, classroom management, and instructional materials,” he explained. “I manage course schedules that serve our Samoan Studies degree program, assist SSI Director Okenaisa Fauolo in the research and implementation of best practices in curriculum and instruction, and work collaboratively with her to ensure the success of Samoan Studies at ASCC.”
Dr. Feleti’s affiliation with the organization began in February 2022 when ASCC President Dr. Rosevonne Pato received a request from the REL Pacific Governing Board that she recommend a potential representative with a background in language. “They had in mind someone who teaches native language courses and could assist other Pacific Island schools and colleges in their efforts to build their language programs,” Feleti recalled. “ASCC was asked for the recommendation because the SSI had received a commendation in our accreditation Peer Review Report for its work in the area of language. President Pato felt that I would be the most appropriate candidate to provide this assistance and guidance to REL.
With the support of President Pato, SSI Director Fauolo and other ASCC administrators, by the end of February REL Pacific had accepted Dr. Feleti as a Governing Board member. “Throughout 2022, we conducted Zoom meetings to help REL build authentic connections to stakeholders and constituents, and to improve the relevance of REL’s work,” he said. In November of last year, Dr. Feleti attended REL Pacific Governing Board meeting in Hawaii, where he met for the first time his regional colleagues, including then-chairman Dr. Patrick Tellei, President of Palau Community College. At a subsequent board meeting, held virtually last month, Dr. Feleti described himself as “shocked” when Dr. Tellei, whose tenure as chairman was concluding, informed him beforehand of his recommendation to the rest of the board that Dr. Feleti succeed him as the next REL Pacific chairman. Dr. Tellei’s choice was supported by majority of the board members when, via secret ballot at the same meeting, they proceeded to vote-in Dr. Feleti by a 90% margin.
In his new role as the organization’s chairman, Dr. Feleti said he sees an opportunity to strengthen the connection between the work being done by REL Pacific and the goals of ASCC.
“I will continue my work with the REL Pacific Governing Board and will work closely with ASCC and our partner the American Samoa Department of Education, as well as other stakeholders in American Samoa on issues that involve us in the Pacific region,” he said. “I’ll be able to promote and disseminate REL Pacific’s work and explore approaches to the evidence they produce and its value to ASCC. I hope to build connections to stakeholders and constituents to improve the relevance of REL Pacific, as well as represent ASCC within the organization as the College strives to pursue its own goals relevant to the region as a whole.”
Dr. Feleti thanks God, his parents Rev. Fa’atauao M. and Fa’asili Feleti and ASCC for this accomplishment. More information on REL Pacific, its participants and its projects can be found on its web page at: https://ies.ed.gov/ncee/rel/region/about/pacific.