North Chatham Elementary’s Murray emerges as district's top principal
CHAPEL HILL — North Chatham Elementary School Principal Carla Murray would tell you that every job assignment on her campus is vital.
So it’s not perfunctory when she’s out there in front of the school meeting and greeting families, opening and closing doors for car riders. As the school’s principal, she essentially is North Chatham’s chief executive officer. Murray, though, respectfully edits the CEO acronym — chief engagement officer is more like it.
“Personal-competence skills are just as important as professional knowledge and skills,” Murray explained. “The staff wants to know that their leader can and will do the tasks that are required in a school.
“I model what I advocate.”
That approach had Chatham County Schools Superintendent Dr. Derrick D. Jordan in October presenting Murray as the Chatham County Schools Principal of the Year. The award puts Murray in regional competition. Moving beyond that would have her vying for a shot as the state’s top principal.
Murray is extremely organized and is the type who knows a lot without insisting on knowing it all, according to North Chatham curriculum coach Mandy Evans.
“Incredibly data driven while keeping a realistic understanding about teachers knowing their students. All our teachers are always digging into data for our conversations,” Evans said. “Check out our teacher working conditions survey — the growth is amazing, and numbers are in the 90% [range] for things related to staff and parent involvement.”
“Leadership requires service to others. Leaders are responsible for tending the collective vision and values,” said Murray, North Chaham’s principal since 2015. “I listen to concerns. I listen for the information — good and bad — that enables me to lead.”
Instead of occupying an inordinate amount of staff time with general meetings, Murray prefers tailored conversations with pertinent individuals. She respects people’s schedules too much to send email after email, even though that would be more convenient for her, just rattling off whatever comes to mind whenever it comes. No, Murray organizes what she has to say in weekly newsletters.
“Consummate advocate for teachers,” Evans said.
“I know that I cannot lead without the eyes and ears, minds and hearts of staff,” Murray said. “My office door is open. I promote staff competence, enabling others to fulfill their full potential. I let people be naturally who they are.”
Published Oct. 11, 2020