Kyla Mathews, EdD is a south side Chicago native and an active mom of a sprouting 4th grader. After earning her bachelor’s degree she chose to root her talents back home, on a mission to significantly impact her students’ connectedness to their school and their own futures. Dr. Mathews currently serves as the principal of Epic Academy charter high school in the South Chicago neighborhood. Her life’s core value is “education is liberation,” which grounds her dedication to ensuring all students thrive by having access to relevant and rigorous instruction in a safe and welcoming school. Dr. Mathews’s recent capstone defense details how she lifts up the “heart work” that equity-focused educators must commit to in order to dismantle instructional and organizational oppression that exists in our schools. She finds that the essential pillars to well-deserved change in our schools are: teachers & staff looking to interrupt inequities, setting ambitious goals for all students, and collective effort in achieving those goals. Mathews is known for prioritizing bridges of trust between stakeholders and leading with purpose and intellect. Her leadership has continued the successful progress of schools within the city’s most promising communities: Auburn Gresham, Bronzeville, Englewood and, south suburban Hazel Crest and Markham, IL. Some of her former students are teachers, entrepreneurs, professional athletes, thriving parents and community change agents.Dr. Kyla Mathews is a doctoral graduate of the Urban Education Leadership program at the University of Illinois-Chicago (’21). She holds a Master’s degree in school administration and licensure from Concordia University-Chicago (’06), and a Bachelor of Science degree with an endorsement in secondary mathematics from Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, IL (’02).