May 10, 2024

In the public eye: WPS Instructional Leader a champion for learners

Editor’s note: This is another in an ongoing series of Windham and Raymond town employee profiles.

By Ed Pierce

Kaley Petros believes that a school leader presents the past, reveals the present, and creates the future.

Kaley Petros has served as the Instructional Leader at
Windham Primary School since last fall and a large part of
her job is focused on advocating for the needs of students
who need more support both inside and outside of the
classroom. SUBMITTED PHOTO  
It’s what she strives for every day in her position as the Instructional Leader at Windham Primary School. She joined the administrative team at WPS in mid-October and says that a large part of her job is focused on advocating for the needs of student learners who need more support both inside and outside of the classroom.

“As such, I get to wake up and know my work is purposeful and meaningful,” Petros said. “Helping to find what is going to work best for learners and seeing those learners ultimately succeed is the greatest feeling.”

As WPS Instructional Leader, she provides leadership at the school in a variety of ways.

“One of my primary responsibilities is coordinating the Academic Support program at WPS, partially funded by Title 1,” she said. “I consult with teachers and interventionists, supervise, and evaluate educational technicians and classroom teachers, assist with technology, coordinate, and facilitate professional development, and even run a few of my own intervention groups with students. I’m a core member of our school’s Response to Intervention (RTI) team and I work to facilitate the plans laid out in those meetings for students. I assist our school in analyzing different types of data to help us inform programmatic decisions concerning student learning. I am also a Diversity Equity and Inclusion team member.”

According to Petros, the most challenging aspect of her work is not having perfect answers every time.

“When we’re monitoring student progress for one student or for a whole school and we don’t have the exact reason why, it’s hard for me,” she said. “I always want to be able to provide our teachers and ed techs with a clear path forward, but education is a process, and that process is often messy. I’m thankful to have a supportive team of creative thinkers at the table in situations like those.”

Originally from Ellsworth, she moved to Massachusetts and completed an undergraduate degree in English and Elementary Education at Wellesley College and then went on to obtain a master’s degree in educational leadership at Boston College’s Lynch School.

She started her career in education as a student teacher in the Boston Public Schools while also helping to coordinate volunteers for after-school and summer programs that served the Chinatown neighborhood of Boston.

“I taught and led grade level teams as a fifth-grade teacher in Needham, Massachusetts for five years where I also interned in educational leadership,” she said. “My husband and I returned in 2019 and began our family shortly thereafter. I worked at Pownal Elementary School in RSU 5 from 2019 to earlier this year as a second- and third-grade teacher as well as leadership team member. I’ve done urban, suburban, rural, you name it.”

Searching for the right school leadership position for her since moving back to Maine, Petros had a dream to help lead a school for many years, but it had to be the right position.

“The role of instructional leader seemed to be the perfect blend of what I was looking for, a leadership role with a focus on the improvement of teaching and learning,” she said. “The role of instructional leader is unique and very few districts have similar roles. When I tell people my job title inside and outside of our district, there's always ultimately the question, ‘So what does that mean?’ I think that is both the beauty and the challenge of a position that people do not have a preconceived notion of. Having to define my position helps me remain focused on the goal of my work.”

“My husband, Matt, has always been one of my biggest supporters. He moved his entire life to Massachusetts for me, and he continues to fully partner in this crazy life we lead. We have two beautiful yet wild toddlers under the age of 4 and without his help, jumping head-first into a leadership role would have been impossible,” Petros said. “He loves to know I’m doing what I love. Sometimes I won’t stop talking about it. My daughters would probably say they like that they get to come to fun events like WPS Fall Fest and Movie Nights, plus extra time on the playground when Mom needs to do some extra work.”

She says the public would be surprised to know that very few decisions are made without input from someone or whole teams of people and she leans heavily on the other members of the leadership team at WPS including Dr. Kyle Rhoads, Diana Jordan, and Rebecca Miller to give her honest feedback and input.

“My work at WPS so far has emphasized the importance of building, prioritizing, and maintaining relationships with students and staff,” Petros said. “It is so easy to feel lost in a large school, and I feel it is one of my many duties to ensure that staff and students feel safe, welcome, and respected at our school.” <

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