Susan Culbreth brings unique knowledge to the table.
Culbreth, principal of Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy, was named one of 30 principals to the Leadership Network created by the Professional Association of Georgia Educators. The group will meet eight times in the next two years to discuss leadership, budget cuts and student engagement.
Culbreth said Wednesday that she can offer the most advice about charter schools and their unique operations.
“The advantage to working in a small system where we talk about different ideas is that we can all engage in a conversation about what does and doesn’t work,” she said. “With a charter school in a charter system we really have the freedom to choose.”
Based on the work of Harvard professor Howard Gardner, the multiple intelligences theory asks “How are you smart?” rather than “How smart are you?” The curriculum incorporates activities based on eight types of intelligences identified by Gardner .
“It’s really freeing,” Culbreth said. “The teachers have to figure out the missing link (for students) and help, and we think this builds a strong foundation of self-confidence.”
Teachers create contracts with students each week to pinpoint individual goals.
“In fourth grade, one student could be working on regrouping and another could be doing division to the third decimal point,” she said.
“That way children don’t compare themselves, and it takes away part of the teasing that children do to each other.”
Culbreth started teaching in Cobb County in the late 1970s before becoming the educational event planner at Six Flags amusement park for two years. She said she missed being in schools and later became a school administrator in Paulding County before moving to Enota as principal.
“The most important part of the job is to keep a teacher heart,” she said. “You see the big picture and the budget restraints, and you want the teachers to not worry and be able to focus on the classroom.”
PAGE pays all expenses for the group to take part in seminars taught by the Schlecty Center, a nonprofit organization that partners with school leaders. The principals will be able to visit businesses to gain insight about other organizations and leaders in various settings. At the end of the two years, the principals will present their new ideas about schools and leadership.
“The framework at many schools is based on performance standards, and the most important factor for me is that we get creative and students get excited,” Culbreth said. “If you don’t have that, the most valuable part of your education is missing.”