Greg Pilewski | January 2015

Voices from the Field: Wiley Magnet Middle School

Voices From the Field

This year, EducationCloset will be featuring school, district, state, and non-profit leaders that are breaking new ground with implementing STEAM/arts integration in their communities. This special series “Voices from the Field” illustrates leaders on the cutting edge of the STEAM/arts integration movement. Additionally, we will share some of their successes, challenges, solutions, and leadership lessons as a way to help support others. Check out and follow these STEAM Leaders! 

School Name:

Wiley Magnet Middle School in the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools 

Location: Wiley Magnet Middle School

1400 Northwest Boulevard
Winston-Salem, NC 27104
Phone: (336) 727-2378 | Fax: (336) 727-8412
Hours: 7:55am – 2:45pm

School Profile:

Wiley Magnet Middle School currently enrolls 602 students in grades 6-8. The current student demographics are American Indian or Alaska Native 1/602 (.002%), Asian 30/602 (.05%), African-American 192/602 (32%), Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander 1/602 (.002%), White 185/602 (31%), Hispanic or Latino 162/602 (27%), and Multi-Racial 32/602 (.05%) while the percentage of students receiving Free and Reduced Lunch is (78%).

STEAM Leadership Profile:

Mr. Sean Gaillard has been the principal at Wiley Magnet Middle School in Winston-Salem, NC since 2009 and is a transformational leader.  He is entering his twenty-second year in education. Furthermore, he served two years as an assistant principal at Kernersville Middle School in the Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools prior to taking the post at Wiley Magnet Middle. Prior to being a school-based administrator, Mr. Gaillard is a former secondary English teacher. He has worked in both public and private urban and suburban schools in North Carolina, Maryland, Massachusetts, and the District of Columbia.


This is the third year for implementing STEAM/arts integration at Wiley Magnet Middle School.

“When I arrived at Wiley in 2009, we were a traditional middle school.  With pockets of poverty in my community and over 78% of my students on Free and Reduced Lunch we needed to find a niche and become a school of choice,”  Gaillard said.  “In year one, we piloted the STEAM integrated approach with our 6th grade teachers to prove to the district and our community that we could carry a magnet theme.  In year two, we branched out as a school pilot to prove that we could implement the approach on a school-wide level while generating buy-in from our teachers, our community, and our district,” Sean further stated.

Although the Wiley Magnet Middle School team applied for the Federal Magnet Grant to help support their STEAM implementationm they did not receive the extra funding.   However, in 2013 the school district did approve Wiley Middle School full magnet status.

Implementation Successes: 

1. “It starts with having a clear vision for STEAM/arts integration and building a leadership team that can help support forging that vision collectively with teachers, parents and the community,”  said Gaillard.

Wiley Middle School needed teachers to vote in order to become a STEAM themed magnet school in their district.  Sean elaborated We set out on a clear vision for the STEAM approach for our school and 97% of our faculty voted in support of our magnet theme.  That was an awesome day in the evolution of our school to have that level of  support from our teachers”. 

2. Community partnerships are an important part of STEAM/arts integration implementation at Wiley Middle School.

“We did it grassroots style to get our community involved. We knocked on doors and were looking for people and organizations that wanted to engage in a long-term sustainable partnership for our students.  Marketing and pitching were key and still are.  It’s amazing how much of my leadership is about encouraging our teachers, the real heroes of Wiley, to continue in Inspiring Innovative Minds. They are making it happen!” said Sean.  Wiley Magnet Middle School secured 15 community partnerships within six months of receiving magnet status from their district in November of 2013.

3. When Wiley became a magnet school in its first year 185 students applied to be part of the new STEAM/arts integration vision.  Mr. Gaillard said,

“When 185 student applied in their first year it brought us together as a community and a sense of renewal and a new interest in our school was beginning to take shape.  We rebranded ourselves and everyone was working together to support that rebranding.  Our teachers are the real heroes of making this entire new vision come to life.  On top of major shifts in new standards, assessments, and evaluations, our teachers have indulged in our vision and stepped up.  I am so proud….#proudprincipal”. 

Implementation Challenges:

1. “Helping teachers better understand how STEAM/arts integration is an instructional approach and not a curricula.  It always comes down to time and my leadership team and I are focused on providing our teachers with high quality engaging professional development.  I need more time to provide clarity and teaching them how to unpack the components of the STEAM approach and how to integrate content standards.  Our teachers are engaged in the STEAM/arts integration approach during grade level planning sessions, but it’s not enough.  We are still working towards targeted professional development in this area,” stated Sean.

2. Resource allocation is always a challenge.  Mr. Gaillard and his team continue to seek out additional resources and grants to help support and supplement their implementation.  “Additional resources and funding are always critical to support STEAM/arts integration implementation.  The magnet grant would have been nice, but we had to be creative in finding additional resources.  I have a talented leadership team around me and that makes all the difference in the world for support the vision.” said Sean.

Implementation Next Steps: 

1. Additional professional development time is a key component for moving STEAM/arts integration forward at Wiley Magnet Middle School.  “I try to use every moment of my faculty meetings for engaging professional development for my staff.  We are still working on this area.  I try to blog a lot of information that would normally take place at a traditional faculty meeting to free up our time for professional learning.  I want to provide more time for coaching my teachers on clarifying the STEAM/arts integration approach.  The more clarity I can provide the better,”  shared Sean.

2. Finding additional resources and grant opportunities to support implementation is critical at Wiley Magnet Middle.  “It’s just my team and I trying to be creative with our partnerships and seeking additional funding streams and resources for implementing our full vision.  I have been blessed through our Title I funding to have a full-time STEAM Instructional coach.  Her entire role is to put STEAM in the water at Wiley.  From finding grant opportunities to coaching classroom teachers we are so blessed to have such a go-getter on our team,” said Mr. Gaillard.

Leadership Lessons: 

1. “Allow yourself as a principal time to reflect.  I can’t stress how important this is and equally how challenging this is to have some quiet time to reflect by yourself as a leader, time to reflect as a leadership team, time to reflect as a faulty and staff, and time to reflect as a community.”

2. “Develop deep awareness of your students, teachers, and community and it will pay dividends down the road.” 

3. “Spend the time to develop a clear vision and be motivating and inspiring to those you lead.  Build a supportive team around you for doing this level of work and be open to the ideas of others.  I am just a small piece of this entire vision and there are so many people involved and committed to moving Wiley Magnet Middle to the next level.  It’s the whole concept of TEAM.

Contact and Follow This STEAM Leader: 

Mr. Sean Gaillard-Principal

Wiley Magnet Middle School

1400 Northwest Boulevard

Winston-Salem, NC 27104

Phone: (336) 727-2378 | Fax: (336) 727-8412


What leadership lessons would you like to share with others engaged in this STEAM/arts integration movement? 

Contact us to share your story and your STEAM/arts integration leadership lessons learned! 

About the Author

Greg is a former Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction and has nearly twenty years of classroom, school-based and district-level leadership experience in five different public school systems. He has a passion for teaching and learning and a commitment to supporting school-level and system-level leaders with integrated and innovative resources. Not only is Greg an accomplished leader and speaker, he’s also an avid tinkerer in his workshop where he enjoys making projects around his historic home for his lovely wife and two Labrador retrievers. You can catch Greg’s insights right here each and every Thursday and contact him directly at: