Sankey Is a Welcoming Principal at DiPietro School
Kerri Sankey, who earned her PhD and masters degree from Lesley University, has passion for education and is committed to student success.
By KEN HAMWEY,
Bulletin Staff Writer
Kerri Sankey has a knack for making visitors to DiPietro Elementary School feel welcomed and comfortable.
Her cheerful, caring nature and her down-to-earth demeanor make the new principal at the school a gem, because she’s not interested in flaunting her PhD in educational leadership or her master’s degree in elementary education from Lesley University. What’s most important for Dr. Sankey is the children and the adults she works with on a daily basis.
“It’s crucial for me to help students reach their potential and see them excel academically and socially,’’ Sankey said. “For the faculty and staff,it’s important to see them grow professionally and in their collaboration with colleagues.’’
A native of Pawtucket, R.I., the 54-year-old Sankey has strengths that teachers, staff and students admire. She’s approachable, possesses vast emotional intelligence, and she’s a people person who values all points of view.
“Having emotional intelligence involves being an active listener and able to take on other perspectives,’’ Sankey noted. “As a people person, it’s always students first. My decisions are based on what’s best for them. Valuing other opinions sharpens your objectivity and being approachable is a must. I want people who come to our school to feel comfortable and welcomed.’’
Sankey’s strengths seem like the perfect ingredients that will enable her to fulfill her first-year goals at her school.
“My goals are to develop relationships with students, teachers, staff, and parents,’’ Sankey emphasized. “I want to foster relationships by building trust, setting high expectations for learning and for positive social interaction among all students, teachers, and staff.’’
Besides her Lesley credentials, Sankey earned her bachelor’s degree in education from Tufts University. She also has a certificate of advanced graduate studies (CAGS) in educational leadership and management. And, after getting her PhD, Sankey earned a certificate in literacy coaching and teacher leadership.
“Dr. Sankey’s passion for education, her commitment to student success, and her collaborative leadership style are sure to inspire both students and staff,’’ said Bellingham School Superintendent Peter Marano. “Dr. Sankey will lead DiPietro Elementary School to new heights and will continue to build an engaging and nurturing learning environment for all students.’’
Sankey’s previous work experience involves four stops, all in Mansfield. After graduating from Tufts, she began her career as a visual arts teacher (11 years). She later became Director of Visual and Performing Arts (K-12 for two years) before her appointment as assistant principal at the Qualters Middle School (nine years). At the age of 45, she became principal at Robinson Elementary School, a position she held for eight years.
“Robinson Elementary had 763 students and I enjoyed my years there,’’ Sankey offered. “But I was looking for a smaller school where I could make a greater impact in terms of instructional leadership and getting to know my students.’’
The DiPietro School, which includes 45 pre-school students and 307 children from K-Grade 3, has a faculty of 41 teachers and related service providers and a staff of 28. The school, formerly known as the South School, is 35 years old.
Sankey says the challenges elementary school principals face are not enough time in a day and managing personnel and logistical situations that arise.
“We have a lot of curriculum to cover in a year, and the amount of time in a day isn’t enough,’’ she said. “As an instructional leader, it is my responsibility to help teachers prioritize essential lesson elements across curricular areas. The priorities align with our core programs and state frameworks. Managing all of the moving parts of a school day and beyond includes not only instructional leadership, but also professional development for teachers, schedules, and any unexpected events that might occur during the day.’’
Sankey also is acutely aware that the role of school administrators is constantly evolving. “It has become a complex role because we are continuously managing academic expectations and mandates from the Department of Education,’’ she noted. “And our instructional practices are always evolving as we educate children from diverse backgrounds.’’
Some principals may view the budget process as tedious, but Sankey actually enjoys that task. “I welcome the budget process, because it is an opportunity to advocate for resources directly related to our school’s future plans,’’ she said. “It gives me an opportunity to assess our learning needs.’’
Sankey smiles when assessing the DiPietro faculty.
“Our teachers are 100 percent focused on what’s best for the children,’’ Sankey said. “They’re also dedicated, compassionate, and they believe all children can learn. They also solve problems readily by working together with parents, students, and their colleagues.’’
After five months on the job, Sankey truly enjoys being associated with the Bellingham school system. “Our leadership at the top is fantastic,’’ she said. “They have a strong focus on student achievement and building leadership capacity across the schools.’’
Sankey and her husband (Derek) have four children — 24-year-old twin daughters (Emily and lilly) and two sons (Brennan, 25, and Nathan, 22). On top of reading, painting, exercising and spending time with her family, Sankey’s run 10 marathons and several half-marathons.
Sankey’s favorite memory as an educator came in her earlier days teaching art. “I had six classes for a total of 120 students,’’ she recalled. “Remembering all their names was challenging, but what was so rewarding was when they visited me as adults. They shared their favorite memories as students. That’s very rewarding and meaningful.’’
Kerri Sankey is a welcoming principal but she’s also a welcomed addition to the DiPietro Elementary School.