Dr. Carla Grant Mathis, School Principal, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools

Dr. Mathis earned a bachelor’s degree in English education from Claflin College in Orangeburg, SC, an MBA in human resources management from the University of Phoenix at Charlotte, an executive leadership studies school administration certificate from Gardner-Webb in Boiling Springs, NC, and a doctorate degree in educational leadership from the University of Phoenix, Phoenix, AZ. She is a transformational leader with twenty-eight years of K-12 experience as a teacher, facilitator, dean, assistant principal, and principal. Dr. Mathis has dedicated her career to ensuring students and adults achieve their optimal potential. Outside of serving the public, Dr. Mathis also provides educational consulting through her company Carla Mathis Consulting.


The robust, global, diverse, and technological change in the public and private sectors represents a paradigm shift in leader’s performance, perspective, and behavior. K-12 public school education and leadership should represent an all-inclusive, innovative approach just as its private sector counterparts. Public School leaders should employ a full-range leadership approach to meet and possibly exceed the triple bottom-line responsibilities (financial, social, and environmental). Today’s district and school leaders must be able to adapt and influence change. The 21st-century economy and educational environment require leaders who are open-minded, influential, and visionaries. The leader in the public school sector must be able to make effective decisions designed to meet the specific needs of the school and/or district and produce globally competitive citizens. As aforementioned, just as society has changed so has K-12 education and its leadership. Effective leaders must be open-minded, innovative, and adaptive, and must possess the ability to lead others to accomplish a specific vision. The diversity of ethnicity, nationalities, and abilities requires that schools be led not merely managed in a manner that meets the various needs and appreciates the various cultures within the school environment. Effective leaders are change agents who are adaptable, innovative, motivational, and inspirational risk-takers. They welcome challenges and always seek measures and steps to improve and exceed the bottom-line goal. Effective educational leaders are called to embrace change and work with a team to incorporate innovative and effective ways to educate students of all nationalities, religions, and ethnicities and produce globally productive citizens. The global pandemic of 2020 caused a change in learning and teaching as it was formally known to many. The pandemic should not be seen as a hinderance or even something negative but as an awakening to the need for a paradigm shift across the educational landscape from the way business is conducted and decisions are made at the central office to how instruction is delivered and assessed. Governing, leading, teaching, and learning at the K-12 level is not relegated to solely a brick-and-mortar environment with students serving as the receivers of the dissemination of information.

Leadership in the 21st century, especially after the COVID pandemic, requires more of the following than ever before: Authenticity, being open-minded, and flexibility. Leaders who possess the capability to motivate others to believe and/or do something; however, because some of those individuals lack the ability to be true to self, the achieved progress is temporary and creates a culture of compliance. On the other hand, authentic leaders transform, motivate, create, and sustain a culture and climate of professional collaboration that leads to success. With this knowledge and understanding along with the struggles many American schools encountered because of the COVID pandemic, a paradigm shift is imperative for American public K-12 schools to adequately prepare students for college and the workforce and to be globally competitive. There is a great call for change in leadership. A change that requires innovation, various means of collaboration, critical thinking, critical decision-making, ownership, and the incorporation of technology to enhance teaching and learning. Thus, educators cannot afford to educate in the same manner as pre-COVID and expect changes in college and career readiness and global competitiveness. Efficient and effective teaching and learning are transactive and transformative not transmissive. It demands synthesizing and creation at the very least.

Knowledge of technology and the ability to use various facets of it represent crucial requirements for all in both the private and the public arenas. Technology evolution and innovation changed the dynamics of day-to-day operations; it changed the role of all educators. Post-pandemic requires the classroom teacher to guide and facilitate learning and assist students be able to transform information, think critically, and use the available real-time technological and human resources to access, analyze, and evaluate information. Technology is no longer an option but a non-negotiable component of almost every aspect of life as it is known in 2024. Today in many classrooms across the globe, especially in the United States, the focus is on teaching students to not only be resourceful but also to possess the knowledge and skills to access various forms of resources that would assist them in thinking critically, collaborating to gain greater perspectives and collaborating to enhance their creativity, and in producing and delivering sound research. With today’s technological advancements, teachers have more access and tools to facilitate and contextualize learning with little to no restrictions or barriers. Advancement and accessibility of technology assist in awarding learners to make connections that serve to guide their understanding and to allow them to make meaning for themselves.

Change is inevitable and effective leaders know how to adjust to change. The dynamics of education, and the way of conducting operations and doing business, like other entities of the public and private sectors have changed. To be successful and maintain a sense of competitiveness in a robust, global, and technological society, education leaders must change the way they lead. They cannot lead as managers and expect to gain genuine buy-in and work fidelity from teachers and staff. They must be visionaries in the twenty-first century who promote innovation, modernization, continued learning, a horizontal organizational structure that values staff input and expertise, and staff empowerment.

Transformational leaders are people-oriented and focus on motivation, collaboration, and interdependence. Cultivation of the number one asset of any organization and business through shared leadership and distributive practices leads to the actualization of the vision and mission. An effective leader is conscientious of the use of best practices to optimize the most potential use of human resources. The collaboration and involvement of all stakeholders build trust, motivate, and lead to a unifying front of actualizing an organization’s vision and mission. Leading in this manner allows teamwork and the creation of a climate and culture devoted to the implementation of processes, systems, and innovation on a continuous basis.

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