Anita D. Wright

Piscataquis Community Elementary School
Maine School Administrative District #4
Guilford, Maine

As principal of Piscataquis Community Elementary School (PCES), Anita Wright draws on 26 years of experience as an ELA teacher and coach to advance a “learn to fail” approach to education, encouraging teachers to try new instructional strategies rather than limit themselves to past practice. In her nine-year tenure, Wright has transformed the school’s approach to math instruction, social-emotional support, and project-based learning. When she arrived at PCES, the school lagged 13.3 points behind the average on state math assessments. To break down the instructional silos producing this gap, Wright added a math coach, launched summer school programs, expanded instruction time, and restructured interventions, closing the gap to just two points and bringing performance above that of neighboring districts. Behavior-based seclusions have also been reduced by 90 percent during Wright’s tenure, through extensive staff development, scheduled SEL time, a proactive self-regulation space, and partnerships that provide clinical counseling. An advocate for design thinking and active learning, Wright introduced opportunities at PCES including outdoor education, STEM, and pottery. Digital Literacy is now integrated across the curriculum, and PCES is a laboratory for innovative teaching methods, including the use of immersive 360 technology. Wright holds a B.A. from Colby College and an M.Ed. and Building Administrator credential from the University of Maine.