ALPHARETTA, Ga. — Heading one of the most prestigious private STEAM schools in Georgia is no simple task.
But for Kenan Sener, complacency in his own educational leadership is not an option. While overseeing the multiple phases of Fulton Science Academy’s current campus expansion projects, Sener recently earned his doctorate through a program provided by John Hopkins University. Throughout his near 19-year tenure at the academy, substantial changes have occurred in the fields of science and education. Those shifts prompted him to commit to the program in the hopes of keeping up with advancements and improving his own credibility as a leader and educator.
“We have begun living in a world where everything changes so rapidly,” Sener said. “I can now say that starting my doctorate at Johns Hopkins was one of the best decisions I have made in my life. The quality of the program never disappointed me…I now look at educational issues from broader and multiple perspectives to better serve our school community.”
Born in Istanbul, Turkey, Sener always had an interest in technology growing up. He was accepted into Bosphorus University to study computer programming. However, after experiencing a few internship opportunities in the corporate world, he quickly began to change gears within his career path.
“I had a passion for teaching and education, and accordingly, I accepted a computer teaching position in Nairobi, Kenya,” he said. “It was a significant change in my life to move from Istanbul to Nairobi at that young of an age. I spent four wonderful years in Kenya teaching computers in a secondary school, continuing my education and also coaching and coordinating Kenya’s national team in the International Olympiad in Informatics.”
Upon visiting a number of countries around the world, he earned a scholarship in San Diego and moved to the United States to continue his education. Sener loved teaching computers and robotics. He soon became involved with Fulton Science Academy’s administration during the school’s establishment in 2002.
“I was also helping the school administration on instructional technology issues, and that led to an offer to work in the administration,” Sener said. “I am truly proud of our community for creating a caring academic atmosphere for our students to flourish. It never feels like a job for us.”
Originally a charter middle school, the academy transitioned into a private institution reopening as Fulton Science Academy Private School in 2012. The school built a 67,000 square foot facility where they focused on providing STEAM education to gifted and high-achievement students in Pre-K through eighth grade. Continuing to double their enrollment every year, the academy began offering classes for high school students in 2015.
The school currently serves 740 advanced students and earned its ranking as one of the best private schools in Georgia. Sener could not be more proud of their accomplishments in recent years.
“Education is a very rewarding field,” he said. “There are few careers where you can see your hard work and feel that you have made a difference.”
He said he is especially proud that students achieve academically and socially, adopting caring, empathetic, thoughtful, and conscientious attitudes toward others.
“It makes me very happy to think that they are equipped to create a much better world for all of us,” Senar said.
The 20-acre campus is continuing to change and grow as a number of expansions are underway. This summer, the school completed its second phase which included a high school hangout area, innovation lab, science and technology labs, art and music classes, and 35 additional classrooms. The academy is now in the final phase with the additions of an athletic field, art center with an auditorium, greenhouse, tennis courts and an outdoor basketball court.
In recent weeks, members of the faculty have discussed ways to better assist students who are struggling with virtual learning and the many changes that go with it. In the hopes of forming stronger relationships with students and parents beyond the classroom, the school has created a virtual home visit program.
“It warmed my heart to see that they genuinely care to help each student in their class to the fullest extent possible,” Sener said.
Despite the difficult times brought on by COVID-19, Sener said he is excited about the future of the school and his career. While acknowledging that academics and schooling will be different in the foreseeable future, he remains hopeful in the field and the skilled educators that inhabit it.
“I hope to contribute to educational reform initiatives positively,” he said. “I foresee more focus on soft skills and interdisciplinary studies through these reforms. I commend all educators for their hard work and care for their students during this pandemic.”