COVENTRY — When Western Coventry Elementary School students return to the classroom in a couple of weeks, they’ll be greeted by a new principal whose passion for education has landed her in the town that she calls home.
Dr. Kristin Bagley’s appointment to the school’s principal position followed an extensive interview process, Supt. Craig Levis said during Thursday’s School Committee meeting.
“We had many, many qualified candidates,” he said, “and we’re very fortunate.”
Levis added that he received several phone calls from Bagley’s former colleagues lauding her leadership skills and her tireless efforts to empower staff and families.
“They indicated that they had worked with [Bagley] in multiple capacities at a school that had a high percentage of special needs students,” he said, “and [she was] just an amazing leader.”
A Coventry resident with children of her own in the district, Bagley arrives in her role with the Coventry Public Schools from the Providence Public School District.
Bagley’s career began in marketing and public relations. But while she loved the field, it wasn’t her biggest passion.
“I wanted to impact kids,” she said, recalling her decision to return to school to become an educator.
Bagley ended up in Providence, where she began her career in education by teaching ESL students.
“After a little while, I felt like I wanted to just make schools great, and I could only do so much in my classroom,” she said, “so I became an instructional coach, and then went into leadership.”
Bagley worked for two years as an assistant principal at Mary E. Fogarty Elementary School before moving to Pleasant View School, where she was the principal.
Pleasant View is a unique school, Bagley said, with a diverse population and a large staff. The job kept her busy, she said, and through it she “learned so much.”
“I’m very lucky for the opportunities that were given to me in Providence to really grow that side of myself,” she said. “I just love it; this is my passion.”
Bagley had always known that she wanted to return to Coventry — she’d worked at Blackrock Elementary School briefly during her teacher training — but said she was unsure when the opportunity would present itself.
“And sure enough, there it was,” she said. “It was just a great time for me to make a move.”
Bagley is taking the place of Amy Anzalone, who was recently named the district’s director of instruction, assessment and curriculum.
At the June 9 meeting when Levis made the announcement, Anzalone said that while she would miss being a principal, she’s excited about joining the district’s administration team.
Bagley lauded her predecessor and the other staff at Western Coventry Elementary School for fostering a strong sense of community at the school.
“I will honor all of that, and the traditions, and come on board and continue that work,” she said.
Members of the School Committee took turns Thursday welcoming Bagley to the district.
“When I heard [Anzalone] was taking the curriculum position I was both ecstatic and extremely worried, because she made big shoes to fill,” said member Luke Murray, in whose district Western Coventry Elementary is located.
Murray said he has high hopes that Bagley will continue to move the school forward.
“From what I’ve heard, which is all fantastic, you’re going to make an extraordinary leader,” he said, “and I have no doubt you’ll do wonders with Western.”
For committee chair Katherine Patenaude, whose daughter attended Western Coventry Elementary, the school is a “near and dear” place. Patenaude spoke highly of the school’s past leadership, and assured Bagley that she’s made a good decision by accepting the position.
“We’re so pleased that you’re on board,” she told Bagley, who stood before her in the council chambers. “We wish you the best of luck in this new endeavor.”
Bagley said she’s been “blown away” by the warm welcome given to her by members of Coventry’s school community.
“I keep thinking, if that’s the climate… that is going to be so easy to do for students and families in a couple of weeks,” she said.