Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012

Superintendent to keep an ‘open ear,’ build relationships with community

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New Georgia/Alabama District Superintendent Christy Cabezas found herself intrigued by the position for district superintendent — a post vacated by the former superintendent, Lois Rapp, in September. Cabezas’ youngest son, Jake, is a cavalry scout and this, she said, got her interested in the position and in the military.

This is Cabezas’ first position working directly with the military community. She said she felt welcomed by the school board and command groups, as if “I was just picked up and dropped in a little piece of heaven.”

“A superintendent has to want to be with that district as much as that district wants to be with the superintendent,” she said. “It has to be a marriage, because your life is in the education world.”

Her most recent job was as the assistant superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment in Harris County School. She holds a doctorate degree in administration of elementary and secondary education from Auburn University. Cabezas earned her master’s degree in educational administration and leadership from Troy University and her bachelor’s degree in secondary science education from Columbus State University.

Even though her career was in primarily civilian schools, Cabezas said she also worked with military children as a Harris County High School counselor and understands some of the issues military children face.

“How are we going to be sure that they make friends, feel like they fit in, become a part of the community?” she said about some of the issues she noticed students facing during her time as a counselor. “Because it’s hard when you’ve had these kids who have grown up together since pre-K and you are new.”

Under her guidance, she had a high school student in a military Family begin a peer-mentoring program to address such issues.

She also recalled times of fighting for credits for students who were moving across state lines.

“That’s something I feel like military Families really struggle with and hopefully the (Common Core State Standards) ... will prevent that from happening,” she said.

Her philosophy on education for children, she said, is that every child has potential and that potential is different for each child as far as what they want to do.

“It’s our job as educators to see that every child reaches their fullest potential,” Cabezas said. “And that means that every child has access to programs, every child has access to an equitable curriculum and good instruction. That is our duty — is to ensure that children are given what they need from us to maximize their potential.”

Her goal, she said, is to build relationships and understand the specific needs of the community.

“I don’t think we can move together as an organization until we bond together, grow together, believe together — an organization moves together,” Cabezas said.

After less than two weeks in her new position, she said she has an “open ear” and is observing and listening to everyone she meets.

“I want to know what’s important to you and for your children,” she said. “As a superintendent you know education, but every community is different. What is important to the community?”

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