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Kelty Kelley Takes the Helm at East Falmouth

Kelty Kelley Takes the Helm at East Falmouth 

By Sarah E. Murphy 

Kelty KelleyThe East Falmouth Elementary School Eagles will be welcomed by a new face in the Main Office when they return in September for the 2023-2024 school year. 

Superintendent of Schools Lori S. Duerr recently appointed Kelty Kelley as principal upon the retirement of Paul Goodhind. 

Ms. Kelley, who spent the last nine years as principal of the F. X. O’Regan Early Childhood Development Center in Franklin, officially began her position at East Falmouth on July 1. 

Throughout her career, which spans more than 30 years, Ms. Kelley has illustrated her commitment to ensuring all children have access to high-quality educational opportunities. Her experience includes curriculum review and social-emotional learning, and she has taught and led early childhood and special education within the public schools. She has also advocated at the state level for equality in education. 

Ms. Kelley knew from a young age she wanted to pursue a career in education, an interest that was also formed by personal experience. 

“I’m the oldest child in my family, and my younger siblings struggled in school with learning disabilities,” she recalled. 

As a senior at Millis High School, she gained firsthand experience in her prospective career when she had the chance to partner with the special needs preschool teacher, spending a significant amount of time working and learning in the preschool.  

“It was kind of like an internship, and it was such a great opportunity for me,” she said. 

“At that point, I decided I wanted to go to school for education.”

Ms. Kelley majored in early childhood education at Boston College and educational leadership at Framingham State College. 

Making children and their families feel welcomed has always been a priority.

“In Franklin, we had over 180 students, the majority of whom had learning disabilities. We created a warm, loving, nurturing environment, where students were able to connect with each other and all students were able to learn,” Ms. Kelley said. 

“It’s one of the things that brought me here, because I get to work with the preschool and I also get to expand my experience into the upper grades of elementary.” 

Ms. Kelley credited her colleagues, Rose Moran of Mullen-Hall, Rebecca Vieira of North Falmouth, and Sandy Kapsambelis of Teaticket, for their input and assistance during the transition process. 

“It’s been wonderful to have the opportunity to meet with the other elementary principals.  They’ve been very supportive,” she said.  

Ms. Kelley is also collaborating with Falmouth Public Schools Early Learning Coach Jaime Rapoza in regard to Falmouth’s Integrated Preschool Program, which is held at East Falmouth.

Ms. Kelley is excited about the chance to foster relationships. In her previous position, students remained at the school for two or three years at the most, in comparison to the potential six-year path at East Falmouth, beginning in preschool. 

“I love having the opportunity now to create a strong foundation from preschool/kindergarten and being able to impact a child’s learning right up until middle school. Watching them learn and grow is an opportunity I didn’t have before, and I’m excited to be able to see the impact of our work over time. I’m committed to creating community where all the staff and families feel connected throughout their journey,” she said. 

“I’m also determined to make our program stand out, one that people will be willing to drive to from all over Falmouth, and I want to make sure that people know what we’re doing so they want to come here.”

Ms. Kelley was also drawn to the mission statement of Falmouth Public Schools, outlined by the student characteristics in the CLIPPER acronym - a creative learner, who is inquisitive. A participant and a partner. An effective communicator, who is resilient. 

“I want to encourage all students to be curious learners, to be caring, to be persistent, to never give up, to keep trying. I think a lot of those pieces form my philosophy of education and growth and align with that,” she said.   

Ms. Kelley’s views can also be evidenced in her new office. A framed quote hangs above her desk, which she discovered on a tag for a doll she purchased decades ago from a company called “Kidz Klub.” 

It reads: 

There is no hand so small that it cannot leave an imprint on the world. 

“I look at that, and that’s kind of my philosophy for how I approach everything. How do I help the child in front of me, the staff member in front of me, the families in front of me? How do I help them leave their imprint on the world?” she said.  

Ms. Kelley also brings her collection of favorite storybooks, on prominent display in her office, including “I Am Enough,” by Grace Byers, “Happy Dreamer,” by Peter H. Reynolds, and “Say Hello,” by Rachel Isadora. She underscored the educational and social-emotional importance of such texts, for any age. 

“Children’s books help us tell stories to each other and express ourselves and how we feel. They help us learn about each other,” she said. 

“I don’t believe you’re ever too old for a really well done picture book,” she said. 

Ms. Kelley is grateful for the warm welcome she has received, including a spontaneous visit from George Spivey, who formerly served as principal at East Falmouth, and later as Falmouth's affirmative action officer. Mr. Spivey is now a permanent building substitute at Lawrence School.

“George popped in to see me and it was so wonderful to have that opportunity. I loved learning that he was involved in making sure students with special needs in Falmouth were provided an inclusive learning environment, because that’s the core of who I am,” she said. 

“It’s so nice to see that fostered here, and to share experiences and philosophies. I look forward to having him come by more.”

Ms. Kelley considers herself lucky, both professionally and personally, to have Bridget Janerico as her secretary. 

“Bridget is amazing. She knows so many parents, and she’s been teaching me so much about the culture of this community. I love the energy she brings to East Falmouth,” she said. 

“She’s so welcoming and supportive.”

Ms. Kelley and her husband are eager to explore more of Falmouth’s open spaces, in addition to the Shining Sea Bikeway, which they have enjoyed over the years as visitors. She is grateful for the chance to now experience the coastal scenery on a more regular basis.  

“I always find such peace at the shore. To have the opportunity to go stand there and let my worries melt away is really wonderful," she said. 

"I love Falmouth, and I’m excited to be here.” 

Sarah E. Murphy