Yates ready to usher in new era at Winsor Hill


When Matthew Yates decided to explore the job market, he set the bar high to continue his climb up the educational ladder.

First and foremost, as a father of four young children, Yates wanted to find a school where there’s a strong family feeling.

Yesterday, when the Johnston School District’s 2019-20 academic year began, Yates ushered in a new era as principal of Winsor Hill Elementary School. He brings a personal philosophy of “making every decision with the best interest of students in mind and … what I would want for my own children.”

“I am excited to return to elementary school and be part of the family feeling you get at the elementary level,” Yates said. “The people here at Winsor Hill are absolutely wonderful.”

Yates has previously taught kindergarten, first grade and fourth grade, and he was an assistant principal at Kickemuit Middle School in Warren before leaving for Winsor Hill. Yates was selected to succeed Michele Zarcaro, who after 12 years at Winsor Hill has taken a new position in the district.

“I am pushing academics/fundamentals to ensure all our young people are ready for middle school, high school and life beyond so they can be successful citizens in our ever changing global society,” Yates said. “I am also a firm believer in every minute matters and maximizing every learning opportunity.”

The new Winsor Hill leader – who lives in Warwick with his wife, Jackie Petrarca-Yates, and daughters Adelynn, 7, Grace, 6, Vivian, 4, and Claire, 2 – added that he is “dedicated to providing experiences to the whole child by teaching both academics and social/emotional skills simultaneously.”

“I have confidence that Matthew Yates will be a leader who will move the Winsor Hill School forward,” Johnston Superintendent Bernard DiLullo said. “He comes from an elementary instructional background and has worked hard over the summer to plan for the upcoming year.”

DiLullo, who is impressed with Yates and his career accomplishments to date, went on: “He has a keen interest in establishing a collaborative community of educators all focused on high expectations for student learning. Mr. Yates will be an integral member of our leadership team and I look forward to the accomplishments and successes to come at Winsor Hill.”

A New Jersey native, Yates came to the Ocean State in August 2004 to attend the University of Rhode Island, where he obtained a B.A. in 2008 with a major in history and minor in leadership. He also holds a M.A. in education from the University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, Kentucky.

He met his wife, Jackie, while at URI. She’s a graduate of Warwick Veterans Memorial High School, where she starred in track and field.

Yates has among his success stories serving as assistant head of school at Blackstone Valley Prep Middle School and teaching kindergarten, first grade and fourth grade.

His educational philosophy and vision statement speak volumes about Winsor Hill Elementary School’s new principal.

“In order for each student to be successful in the world beyond the school walls, we must stand in unity to make sure all students have access to high quality curriculum, are active thinkers, value cultural differences get exceptional teachers and believe in themselves,” Yates said. 


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