James H. Callahan

Sowams School
Barrington Public Schools
Barrington, Rhode Island

In the 20 years that James H. Callahan has served Sowams School as principal, the school has consistently ranked among the highest on state assessments. In 2019, when math scores began to slip below what the school had achieved in previous years, Callahan led a targeted response to strengthen mathematical thinking by increasing corrective feedback and coaching, intensifying focus on core standards, and cultivating student tolerance for productive struggle in the learning process. As a result, in 2020-2021, when most schools saw RICAS scores drop, Sowams scored highest in the state for math and also saw an increase for ELA. Callahan credits academic excellence at Sowams in part to effective use of Collaborative Planning Time, which allows teachers to work together to interpret data, orient interventions, and ensure that the foundational skills program is being implemented with fidelity. This rigorous approach extends beyond the core curriculum, as Callahan has introduced elements of Deep Learning pedagogy to support the development of the 21st-century competencies of communication and critical thinking at Sowams, as well as various frameworks for advancing social and emotional learning. A champion of civic engagement, Callahan led the school’s Enrichment Clusters to raise over $10,000 for local and global charity efforts. Callahan holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Bryant College and a Master of Education in Elementary Education from Rhode Island College and has completed additional coursework at Providence College.