Traci Johnson Mathena joined Creative City as its Principal on July 20th, 2015. Prior to joining our school, she served as an assistant principal at Towson Law and Public Policy High School in Baltimore County (2009-2015). During her tenure, she supervised various academic departments as well as the school’s Student Support services, Special Education Department, Student Activities programs and the Testing Program. She also developed the Academic Commitment Creates Empowered Successful Students (ACCESS) Program, an afterschool academic intervention where teachers, peer tutors and university students worked with struggling learners.
Traci has been an urban educator for 20 years. She started as a teacher in 1994 after working as a metropolitan reporter for the Baltimore Sun for six years. In Baltimore City, she worked at her alma mater Western High School (Class of ‘88) and Canton Middle School. She was a teacher and Language Arts Department Chairman at Dumbarton Middle School in Baltimore County for eight years before joining the Towson High School administrative team. Her appointment to Creative City returns Traci to the Park Heights area where she was raised.
Since 1995, Traci has written curriculum for both Baltimore City and Baltimore County public school systems, mentored teachers, led professional development seminars about Differentiated Instruction, and taught graduate courses in education for Towson University and, most recently, the Johns Hopkins School of Education.
Traci is a National Board Certified Teacher of English Language Arts/Early Adolescence and earned her master’s degree in Leadership in Teaching from Notre Dame University of Maryland. She is the proud alumna of University of Maryland College Park and the even more proud parent of a current Terrapin, a Linguistics and Psychology major who will graduate in 2017.
Dr. Craig Spilman is the Academic Director of Creative City for the 2015-16 school year. Prior to joining our school, he most recently served as the Executive Director of the CollegeBound Foundation (1999-2013). Under his leadership, the foundation grew to become one of the nation’s largest and most successful college access programs, serving 25,000 urban high school students in the City of Baltimore. Craig’s development efforts resulted in CollegeBound’s annual budget increasing from $800,000 to nearly $3.5 million.
Craig was an urban principal in Baltimore for 28 years, during which he led the transformation of three urban middle schools. His work in the field of urban education reform drew national recognition and was featured in Time Magazine. Craig served as Baltimore City Schools Associate Superintendent for Instruction and Curriculum for three years, led the Maryland State Middle School Association as its Executive Director for twelve years, and for fifteen years was the Education Director for Baltimore’s Sister Cities International Programs. He also lectures at the Maryland Institute College of Art.
Craig has led over 200 seminars and presentations on school reform issues for organizations such as the National Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, the National Middle School Association, the Maryland Department of Education, the Carnegie Corporation, and the Southern Regional Council. Dozens of newspapers and journals as well as national media (CNN, CBS, Fox, and NPR) have chronicled his school reform accomplishments.
Craig earned his Ph.D. in educational leadership from the University of Maryland College Park. He is a graduate of the Greater Baltimore Committee (GBC) Leadership program and a Weinberg Foundation fellow.
Marisa Canino has a passion for service, a commitment to seeing Baltimore City and its residents thrive, and a demonstrated track record in fundraising and nonprofit management. She has shown her commitment to the Baltimore community for 15 years through her professional and volunteer work with nonprofits serving Baltimore families. In her 11 years at Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake, she progressively served as Development Director, Deputy Director, and Chief Operation Officer, garnering resources of up to $12 million annually, and managing programs that enabled more than 100 low-income families to purchase safe, decent, affordable homes of their own.
Her volunteer experience, most notably, includes her oversight of the community effort to rebuild the playground at Stadium Place from the ground up with hundreds of volunteers after an act of arson in 2008. Most recently, she has worked as a fundraising consultant.
Marisa holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Franklin & Marshall College, and a certificate in fundraising management from Indiana University.
A mother of three, Marisa is also passionate about education and the opportunity for parents to be able to choose the school that is best for their child. She was a parent-founder at Creative City for two years before a broad search led to her being hired in the role of Executive Director.