Every great educational leader understands that building a community requires the effort of many. They possess an unquenchable thirst for self-improvement and a passion for enhancing the lives of others. They strive to cultivate a love for learning, embrace mistakes, and push themselves to become better for the benefit of the world. These leaders believe that students thrive when they use their minds to solve problems, create solutions, and collaborate with peers to make a difference.
To cultivate future leaders, it is critical that education focuses on developing critical thinking and problem-solving skills rather than just memorizing facts. The future of education requires leaders who understand that cultivating discipline in children is crucial. These leaders understand that a commitment to supporting children with tools such as mindfulness, self-awareness, and self-regulation is necessary for them to grow into emotionally intelligent and resilient adults.
Leila Centner (Founder of Centner Academy) is an exemplary educational leader who is transforming education and empowering the next generation. Her visionary approach to education is revolutionizing the way we teach, learn, and grow and is making a lasting impact on the lives of countless children.
From Adversity to Ambition
Leila’s journey toward educational leadership is rooted in her tumultuous childhood. Growing up in a rough neighborhood without a father figure, she was surrounded by negative influences. Her friends were becoming pregnant at thirteen, and she even got chased home by a gang with knives once. It was a challenging environment; however, it motivated her to strive for more and to create a better life for herself and her family.
Leila’s ambition to improve things for herself and others fueled her passion for educational leadership. When searching for the right educational institution for her daughter, she found that no school met her high standards for engaging in academics and the holistic development of children. Rather than settling for less, Leila decided to create her own school, Centner Academy, a Conscious Discipline school that empowers children to become future leaders.
Centner Academy: Redefining Education for Future Leaders with Heart
Leila’s brainchild, Centner Academy, is a trailblazing educational institution that focuses on building future leaders with heart. Founded in 2019, Centner Academy is located in Miami and has three campuses, with new construction in the works to further expand its reach.
The Academy’s approach to education is centered on developing critical thinking and problem-solving skills over rote memorization and fact recall. Their signature Entrepreneurship Program is an excellent example of this. Students experience the entire process of bringing a service or product to market, including creating a business plan, making a Shark Tank-style investment pitch, and bringing the product or service to the public at the Bee Happy Marketplace.
Centner Academy is known for its foreign language program, which includes Hebrew, Mandarin, Spanish, Italian, and French. The school also has competitive Lego Robotics and Speech & Debate Teams, as well as Tennis and Soccer programs. They have a unique partnership with Centner’s local regenerative farm, Regener8 Farm & Retreat.
Moreover, the school prioritizes developing emotional intelligence and resilience in its students. As a Conscious Discipline school that focuses on the development of discipline within the child, Centner Academy is committed to providing tools such as mindfulness, self-awareness, and self-regulation to support their students’ growth into emotionally intelligent and resilient adults.
The Academy’s Brain Optimization program is another standout feature, with nutritious and healthy food and a physical education program that supports neurodevelopment. The academics are equally rigorous and engaging, with a cross-curricular project-based learning approach that allows students to dive deeply into topics of interest while mastering essential skills.
Creating a Thriving Learning Community
Leila sees herself as the Chief Happiness Officer and focuses on motivating her team and leading by example, always emphasizing the importance of kindness, compassion, and humility in everything they do. As the CEO of the school, she takes on a variety of roles and responsibilities, all of which are aimed at creating a thriving learning community. Her top priority is to ensure that each student’s individual needs are met, which she achieves by providing a broad range of academic programs and extracurricular activities that foster critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity.
Leila’s approach is centered on cultivating future leaders with hearts who can navigate the uncertain and ever-changing world with integrity, grit, and a growth mindset. In addition to shaping the academic programs offered by the school, Leila also takes a hands-on approach to cultivating a culture of learning and growth within the institution.
“We have a strong culture of learning, growing, and problem-solving.” “If we model this for our students, we are successful!” adds Leila.
Education for the Future
Leila is well aware of the flaws in the current education system and the dire need for change. According to her, the education system was designed for a different era, and it no longer caters to the needs of today’s students. The traditional definition of success, namely finishing college and pursuing traditional occupations, is no longer the only option. She understands that happiness leads to success rather than the other way around.
In light of this, Centner Academy is focusing on developing skills that will help students thrive in any circumstance. Emotional intelligence, resilience, a growth mindset, and critical thinking are emphasized to help students become successful regardless of the challenges they may face in the future.
Leila understands that to make a positive change, her academy needs to be agile and responsive. Being a start-up institution, they continuously iterate and respond to new information to ensure that the education system they provide is relevant and beneficial to the students.
Living life to Fullest
Leila is often asked about how she maintains a healthy work-life balance. In her response, she highlights her personal passion for her work and her commitment to maintaining her physical and mental health. Having spent years optimizing her brain and health, Leila has a high level of energy compared to the average person. This enables her to work long hours, as she is deeply committed to her work at Centner Academy and Centner Wellness & Spa.
Despite her busy schedule, Leila makes time for her hobbies and interests outside of work. She enjoys spending quality time with her loved ones, exploring new places and cultures, and throwing parties to bring people together.
Also Read: The 10 Influential Education Leaders, 2023.