ALUMNI AWARD WINNERS
William KellyNorth Attleboro Public Schools enjoy a well-respected reputation for both their academic excellence and extra-curricular achievement. For 32 years -- 20 years as the superintendent -- William Kelly dedicated himself to North Attleboro schools and played a key role in shaping and maintaining this reputation. No matter the task – whether building a new high school or building a staff – Bill Kelly paid close attention to details and made quality education his utmost focus.
Excellence in Education
Bill was the valedictorian of his graduating class at Blackstone High School, and he would later earn his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Brown University and Boston University, respectively. He returned to Blackstone High School for one year (1956-57) to teach English and Latin, and then spent three years at Grafton Jr/Sr High School. During this time, Bill turned down the English Department Chair position at Nipmuc Regional High School and a new opportunity arose. William Clark, the North Attleboro superintendent, wrote Bill a letter and offered him an English teaching position at North Attleboro High School.
Bill Kelly taught English at NAHS from 1961 to 1967. From behind his lectern, he ran a classroom that featured a formal, respectful and controlled environment. He referred to his students by their last names and gave them the latitude to engage in great dialogue. Bill enjoyed providing feedback and offering praise through the writing process, while maintaining the high standards that would define his administrative approach. As a result of his deep respect for his students and the substantial impact Bill had on them, many former students maintained contact over the years.
In 1967, Bill became North Attleboro High School’s assistant principal, joining Principal Lou Kelley as the new administration. Then, on Feb. 12, 1971, William Kelly achieved the role of superintendent and would serve this position with distinction until September 1991. His first major task and victory was winning approval at Town Meeting for the new high school in June 1971. After two designs were voted down, Bill played a significant role in designing a $7 million building with a unique pentagonal shape. He didn’t want a gauntlet of hallways, but rather a shape to maintain control and achieve high utilization. The building opened in October of 1973 to over 1,200 students.
Bill also spent considerable attention to building a good staff with a strong dedication to good teaching. No politics and a three-tiered interview process – the final interview with the superintendent – ensured quality and consistency for many years. Even during 1980, when Proposition 2 1/2 led to significant loss of staff, he used respect and equity to maintain a high level of education. To this day, William Kelly attributes North Attleboro’s reputation to the teachers in the classroom.
From 1991-93, Bill served as the acting principal for Falls School and School Street School. He also founded the North Attleboro Education Foundation and served as its president from 1991 to 2000. One of Mr. Kelly’s most visible accomplishments, ironically, was not particularly “academic.” Few are aware that before Kelly Field was constructed, it was a massive hole filled with boulders and downed trees. Thanks in great part to Ray Payson, Kelly arranged for the excavation from the Emerald Square Mall to be hauled there free of charge. The total cost of the field construction was “a pittance compared to the value.” In 1991, to honor his commitment to North Attleboro education, the school district named its athletic fields on Landry Avenue William Kelly Field.
William Kelly resides in Plainville with his wife Sylvia, and he enjoys spending time with his children, Bill and Martha, and his three grandchildren, Sage, Olivia and Julian.
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