Kendra Culberson has spent essentially her entire life in education in Wake County, as a student, teacher and administrator. But during her soon-ending tenure at the helm at Timber Drive Elementary, she infused a global influence into the school anyway.
Culberson, who started at the school 12 years ago as an interim principal and has served as principal since 2007, will become principal at Herbert Akins Elementary in Fuquay-Varina in the coming weeks. She left an imprint on a school that she leaves with mixed feelings
“I’m going to miss the students and the staff. I’m eager to see them grow and contribute to our world,” Culberson said near the end of an interview in a Timber Drive hallway. She then paused. “This is hard. This is really hard.”
The Enloe High graduate said a multi-track year-round schedule fit her family’s current calendar much better than Timber’s single-track schedule. But she said leaving behind relationships she’s built up over the years makes the move difficult.
No aspect of her tenure gives Culberson more pride than helping Timber Drive become a part of the Global Schools Collaborative Network. The network calls itself “an education and economic development initiative to ensure that all students are prepared for success in a global economy.”
The concept has teachers implement technology and global curriculum and encourages them to seek to create a variety of innovative global learning experiences. Students at Timber Drive are exposed to a different continent as they progress through each year, giving each grade level lessons a different theme.
Culberson didn’t expect to become an administrator when she became a teacher in 1994, but the N.C. State graduate (her undergrad degree was middle school language arts and studies) eventually went back to earn her master’s in administration thanks to an N.C. Principal Fellows scholarship. Now, she loves it.
“I love my job. Being a principal is the best job in the world,” Culberson said.
Culberson credits her predecessor Sue King for much of her success. She said she had great role model principals at Martin Middle School and West Lake Middle School when she taught. But King had generated a reputation at Timber Drive.
“Sue King taught me the ropes. She was the best,” Culberson said of King, who retired after 10 years at Timber Drive in 2007. “Everyone said, ‘Timber Drive is the place to train.’”
Culberson also said she will miss the community. She said she doesn’t yet know exactly what will be different at Herbert Akins, but she said she was particularly grateful for the Garner Education Foundation and the community’s attitude toward schools in general.
“What I love about Garner is how they really embrace their schools,” Culberson said.