ImagiNation with Rebekka Whitehead

rebekka-64.jpg

WEBSITE | INSTAGRAM

Occupation: Founder and CEO, Whitehead Learning Group

Favorite Productivity Tool: Evernote

Most Recommended App: Toss-up between Pocket Casts (an organized compilation of my favorite podcasts) and the Peloton App (spin classes on demand—need I say more?)

Last Thing You Read: Gamechangers: What Leaders, Innovators, and Mavericks do to Win at Life by Dave Asprey

Tell us about your journey? As a native Atlantan, I have had the opportunity to teach in several local private schools and gained a unique insight into K-12 learning environments as I facilitated classrooms that were inquiry-driven, project-based that accommodating both gifted learnings and those with learning differences. I then transitioned to more of a leadership role within the education industry and worked firsthand within state, national, and global accreditation spheres to monitor academic resource support, advisory groups, college counseling, high-quality mentoring, academic and life coaching, and accountability as well as auxiliary services to evaluate progress and overall improvement across corresponding curricular benchmarks. This experience in curriculum advisement ultimately led me to East Africa where I supervised the implementation of upper school integrated curriculum and authored K-12 curricula that is now implemented worldwide.

In the classroom, I witnessed firsthand how the admissions process has changed— online applications, open houses, interviews, aptitude tests, and psych evals. This process can cause anxiety, stress, and confusion. I heard stories of exclusion, heartbreak, and starting over more times than I could count. Knowing that I couldn’t make a deficit matter to me by just listening to stories or collecting information, I ran towards the chasm in hopes of making a meaningful difference.

So, I opened Whitehead Learning Group, an educational consulting firm dedicated to ensuring students are confident problem-solvers and critical thinkers prepared to thrive in the best school environment. We strive to be a “one-stop shop,” in both the college planning and K-12 school placement spaces. We constantly ponder “where’s the hurt?” amongst students, parents, and families in our Atlanta learning communities. My transition into the educational consulting industry came about from my passion for family advocacy, professional guidance, and belief that every student should be empowered with the tools to thrive.

What's your favorite part of your day? In the evenings, I unwind by cooking dinner and my husband and I prioritize time together to unpack the day and highlight successes and areas of growth. It’s the best way to reflect on our day and reconnect with each other.

When do you feel most successful? The most rewarding part of working alongside families is when we unwrap each learner’s unique gifts. I fully lean into the African proverb that says, “what you help a child to love can be important than what you help him learn.” I want to identify what’s strong—not what’s wrong. In a world that underlines the deficits, it’s time to highlight the strengths. We know that the words that people say to us not only have shelf life, but have the ability to shape life. My goal is to help each child identify and develop their intrinsic strengths and passions to discover a learning environment that is best suited for their emotional and academic development. I get to chase that high of experiencing “lightbulb” (initially in the classroom) now happening in real time across the table. I’m humbled to experience those victories with my clients—when they feel empowered to thrive. Whether this comes in finding a school environment where they feel safe and challenged or getting into their top-choice college, it’s an incredible feeling getting a front row seat in a student’s success story. We’re also honored to partner with Thrive Global Project, a 501(c)3 that donates backpacks of school supplies to vulnerable students around the world. With each new client we partner with, we donate a Thrive backpack in their name. Being able to bridge the gap between learners is surreal.

What do you do to recharge when you’re feeling drained? Go for a run! Whether it’s a speed workout on the track or running around our neighborhood, I’ve always equated running with recharging my mind and body.

What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur? As a business owner, you wear all the hats of your company—CEO, Accountant, Social Media Marketer, Client Relations Manager, Salesperson, etc. I knew this in the back of my mind, but it becomes more evident when I’m in the daily routine.

How do you optimize your day? I’m a lover of all thing lists. My family jokes that I need to have every moment scheduled. While that may be a slight exaggeration, I want to be a good steward of my time and for me, that means being productive during the day to feel accomplished by dinner. List-making and prioritizing my must-do’s in categories allows me to do that.

Who is the person/people who allowed you to imagine more? I love this question! I’ve always subscribed to thriving in the “sweet spot” of life—right in the middle where you’re being poured into by people you trust so you can turn around and fill others up. I’m so humbled and honored to be surround by a supportive tribe. My parents and in-laws pour into me daily. My sweet husband is my biggest supporter. Finally, I’m beyond grateful for mentors on my “personal advisory board” who push me to consider new perspectives.

What does imagining more mean to you and your story? “Imagining more” underscores the true mission of education. As educators, we want to do more than fill students’ buckets—we aim to light a fire within them so they’re able to fall in love with learning, imagine and executive their incredible, unique potential. Because we believe that we grow where we’re loved—not where we’re merely informed, we honor each and every student’s “imagination story.” In a world that underlines the deficits, we highlight the strengths. Our goal is to help each child identify and develop their intrinsic strengths within a learning environment that is best suited for their emotional and academic development. We help students imagine more than the deficits of standardized test scores Instead, we help students identify their potential and in turn, their destination.

If you could do more of one thing every day what would it be? I love to read and would always relish more time to unwind in a book!