Traci Mathena, Principal, Charter School Leadership

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Traci Mathena - outside

On a beautiful winter afternoon in March, I drove to Baltimore, Maryland, to interview Traci Mathena. I was excited to hear the story of what drove her to education. More accurately, I wanted to know why she left the classroom for a leadership role in a public charter school.

On the other hand, I am fiercely committed to early childhood education and I never regret time spent with educators! I became champion of of early childhood education, especially K – 3, as I read Beverly Tatum’s Book, WHY ARE ALL THE BLACK KIDS SITTING TOGETHER IN THE CAFETERIA? Although I’d heard of the “school-to-prison pipeline” before, her book was the first I’d read that clearly explained it. Simply and sadly, kids who don’t read on grade level by the end of third grade are more likely to wind up in prison. This happens because their earning potential is limited and they’re usually from under resourced communities, which undermines access to opportunities.

Once I understood that the school-to-prison pipeline was full of people who barely read on a fourth grade level, I couldn’t ignore that information. Since then, it has been my intention and goal to work with educators from charter schools. In the words of Matthew Ebert, who is a “Coach for Principals” and the person who introduced me to Traci, I want to help them build great workplace cultures for the teachers, who in turn, will build great schools for kids. 

As the principal of Creative City Public Charter School, Traci channels her passion for teaching into building a great school. Perhaps her strength lies in her untraditional journey to the classroom. Perhaps it comes from the freedom of knowing that she could choose between two great careers. As you listen, you’ll understand why it would be an honor and pleasure to work with more people like Traci!

Listen to part 1 of Traci’s interview.

Listen to part 2 of Traci’s interview:


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