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Carla Cato Named Principal of Drayton Mills Elementary School

carla cato


Spartanburg School District Seven announces the appointment of Carla Cato as principal of Drayton Mills Elementary School effective July 1, 2024. Mrs. Cato will succeed Thomas Webster, who has been principal since 2017 and will retire at the end of this school year after serving District Seven for seven years. 

A two-time Teacher of the Year for Spartanburg School District 7 and Rock Hill School District 3, Mrs. Cato has been an assistant principal at Drayton Mills Elementary for the last five years. She was instrumental in helping to open Drayton Mills as a new school, developing and maintaining a positive school culture and climate, and fostering community building between two schools as they merged into one. She played a pivotal role in creating a school culture of support for students and families through curriculum initiatives, through focused work from the counseling department, and through collaboration among support staff to assist with student and staff well-being as well as social and emotional learning. Her leadership was also instrumental in helping Drayton Mills make significant academic gains on its SC School Report Card, advancing three levels to “Good” this past year. 

Mrs. Cato also led District 7’s elementary level summer school program for the last three years, in which she coordinated curriculum planning and teacher training, and monitored academic growth data for all students across the district’s four summer school sites. 

Prior to becoming an administrator, Mrs. Cato was a school counselor for sixteen years, serving at Chapman Elementary and Whitlock Junior High in District 7 as well as at Sunset Park Elementary in Rock Hill District 3 and Hunter Street Elementary in York School District 1.  She began her education career as a fourth grade teacher at Hickory Grove-Sharon Elementary in York District 1. She holds National Board Certification in School Counseling/Early Childhood Through Young Adulthood and has Gifted and Talented endorsement from Converse College. Active in numerous professional and community organizations, she is particularly proud to be a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Jack and Jill of America, and to have served as vice president of the Spartanburg chapter of the SC State University Alumni Association.  

“Carla Cato is the ideal candidate to lead Drayton Mills Elementary School as its next principal,” said Superintendent Jeff Stevens. “She has been instrumental in guiding our ‘Dalmatian Nation’ to achieve tremendous success over the last five years and is respected, trusted and well-loved by the Drayton Mills community of students, parents, and staff. I am confident Mrs. Cato will carry those relationships forward to provide a seamless transition and continue the momentum she helped establish under the leadership of Principal Thomas Webster.”  

“It is with excitement and gratitude that I begin this role as principal of Drayton Mills Elementary School,” said Mrs. Cato. “My mission is to set the foundation for effectuating all student’s full potential to become successful, productive, and global citizens. I am unwavering in my commitment to strive for excellence by continuing to provide positive leadership and encourage professional growth while connecting with our families and community. I place great value on communication and collaboration with our school staff and community stakeholders. Most of all, I love being an advocate for children. The profound relationship-building culture within our school has had a powerful impact on our students and families. I look forward to continuing our momentum toward success!” 

Carla Cato holds an undergraduate degree in education from South Carolina State University, a Master of Education in Counseling and Development from Winthrop University, and a Master of Education in Educational Leadership from South Carolina State University. She is married to Desmond and they have three boys, Justin (25), Jonathan (19), and Joshua (15 - a freshman at Spartanburg High School).