Whitnee Thorp joins the Black Hills Special Services Cooperative with extensive experience in education ranging from being a district-level federal programs director, teacher, and paraprofessional, to a university professor. Whitnee is a doctoral candidate at the University of Illinois where she is completing her doctoral degree in Education Policy, Organization, and Leadership with an emphasis in Diversity and Equity.
She was raised in Lexington, KY by her single mother and grandmother who instilled a love for education and helping others. Whitnee attended Western Kentucky University receiving her BA in Communications with a double minor in English and Women’s Studies. Upon graduation, she moved to rural China where she taught at two universities and developed her passion for teaching. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Eastern Kentucky University. She moved to the Black Hills for nearly ten years where she worked at various colleges including Oglala Lakota College, Black Hills State University, University of South Dakota, and on the K-12 levels at Rapid City Area Schools in a variety of roles. In 2019 she won the Oglala Lakota College Instructor of the Year for the American Indian Higher Education Consortium. Her passions include Indigenous Education, authentic family and student engagement within communities and school systems, equity-led learning opportunities through culturally responsive teaching efforts, and social/emotional learning environments.
When Whitnee is not working, she loves traveling and spending time with her family and friends throughout the United States. She enjoys reading and writing poetry. Whitnee loves getting outside with her dog, Willow, and binge-watching shows or movies on her couch with her cuddly cat, Denver. She loves University of Kentucky basketball, trying new foods, and a cold Mountain Dew. She also enjoys spending time within her community in programs such as the Billie Sutton Leadership Institute and giving back in various efforts throughout the Black Hills and in Kentucky.