Kelli Deveaux has been a part of the RSU14 school district for 14 years. Now the time has come to say goodbye as she moves from being assistant principal at Windham High School into the role of principal at Westbrook High School. While school administrators say they are glad she has this opportunity to move forward in her career, it’s clear that she will be missed.
“It’s bittersweet for us,” said Windham High School principal Chris Howell. “It’s a loss, but we are super happy for Kelli to be able to take the next step in her career.”
Superintendent Sanford Prince echoed the same sentiment. “We will miss her, but this is a wonderful opportunity for her,” he said. “It’s such a natural step for her.” He added that he is proud that RSU14 develops strong leaders and educators, and allows them opportunities to move forward in their own professional development. “I think Westbrook is very fortunate to have Kelli, and she will do well there,” said Prince.
Deveaux said the decision to leave was a tough one. “Windham has been my home for 14 years,” she said “It’s become a second home and second community for me.” Deveaux, who lives in Gorham, said there are many opportunities in the move to Westbrook. The proximity to her own home is appealing, she said, as she balances raising three children of her own with her work life. She added that the diversity, sense of community and community supports that exist in Westbrook are quite unique.
Deveaux is admired by the people she has worked with. Howell said he appreciates all that she has done to build family and community relationships. “It’s going to be difficult for whoever comes in to fill her ‘heels’,” he said, joking about the shoes she is infamous for wearing.
“I deeply respect Kelli as a person and as an educator,” said Prince. “I’ve really enjoyed working alongside her.” Qualities he has appreciated include Deveaux’s humor, energy, and drive to make things happen. Deveaux sees the common good, and is open to varying points of view, Prince said. He added that she has a strong sense of integrity and ethics, as well as good judgment.
Both Deveaux and RSU14 administration plan for continued collaboration between districts. Howell said that as part of the Sebago Educational Alliance, he anticipates continuing to work closely with Deveaux in finding ways to join the communities together. “We’ve always had a strong relationship with Westbrook,” he said, adding that now he looks forward to an even stronger connection.
Deveaux said she hopes to maintain some kind of presence in the RSU14 district. Often, she said, education doesn’t cross town lines, but she believes it should. “We’re all working for the common good of the youth, and our youth cross town lines all the time. They certainly do it virtually, so why don’t we, to meet the needs of our kids.”
The assistant principal position has been advertised, according to Howell, and a hiring committee will be formed soon. He said they are looking to have the position filled by the end of the month.
Prince said that some of the qualities the district is looking for in a candidate include someone with a history of strong ethics, an ability to build relationships, and an innovative approach. The ideal candidate will also have a strong sense of inquiry, and be able to reach out to the public and educators to problem solve with a collaborative approach. Strong principles are important, as are new ideas, Prince said. “We’re not looking for the status quo. We want somebody who is creative,” he said. He added that he is confident that the district will be able to find the right person for the job.
Deveaux said that the timeline for her leaving worked out well, in that she doesn’t have to go through events like graduation thinking that it’s her last one. “I hate goodbyes,” she said, adding that she knows this won’t be the last time she’ll see the students and staff to whom she has grown very close. “I’m so incredibly grateful for the kindness and the opportunities that the Windham and Raymond communities have afforded me and their support over the 14 years that I’ve been a part of these communities. They’ve supported me in growing who I am personally, and certainly in who I am professionally. I have had outstanding opportunities to work with great people and I’m truly going to miss Windham and Raymond,” Deveaux said.