The following Introduction Letter/Video (link at the bottom) to the RMHS Community was sent earlier today to parents from the new (Interim) Principal of Reading Memorial High School, Jessica B. Callanan.
Dear RMHS Community,
I want to take a moment to reach out to you before the school year comes to a close to say how much I look forward to the opportunity to serve the Reading Memorial High School community in a different capacity in the 2023-2024 academic year as the interim high school principal. I consider it a privilege to be considered for this role and will work diligently to bring about the best outcomes for all students, support our wonderful faculty and staff, and build strong partnerships with families and partners within the community.
This year as the Director of Academic Achievement I learned a great deal about what it means to be a Reading Rocket! In this role I did not always have the chance to be at the forefront with students, parents and caregivers. As such, please allow me to introduce myself a little bit more in depth. Next year will be my 18th year in education, which started as a high school history teacher in New Jersey. When my family relocated to Massachusetts to be closer to our extended family, I moved to a leadership role as the Dean of Students at Salem Academy Charter School (SACS) in Salem, Massachusetts. After 2-years at SACS I was fortunate to shift to the traditional high school also in Salem and take on the role of Assistant Principal (Housemaster at the time) where I learned from and worked with a strong leadership team. During my tenure at SHS, the school moved from Level 3 to Level 1 under the now dated Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) accountability standards, which was an almost insurmountable accomplishment. I was fortunate to be appointed as the Principal of WMHS in 2016 and served this community for 6-years and through the COVID 19 pandemic.
While leading WMHS the school was accredited by the New English Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), was nominated in 2017 as one of less than 10 national model schools, which resulted in a team of us presenting at the International Center of Leadership in Education (ICLE) conference, and moved forward in nearly all accountability measures as determined by the DESE. During my tenure much of the new programming that I am working to bring to RMHS was added for Woburn students to include, but not limited to, over 70-new courses, Innovation Career Pathways, paid internship programs, partnerships with organizations such as TEALS (Microsoft) to build a strong Computer Science course offerings, expansion of the fine and performing arts program, creation of Dual Enrollment opportunities, addition of the BRYT Program and added social and emotional supports for students, and a robust curriculum update in all content areas. All of these accomplishments were made possible through the leadership and innovation of the faculty and support of the community. In my short time in Reading, it is clear that the faculty, staff and community are poised and eager to enter into new and exciting opportunities for our students, and I am looking forward to helping facilitate and continue our forward momentum.
I would be remiss if I did not briefly mention my education and other professional experiences outside of education. I am originally from Upstate New York, where my extended family mostly still resides. I am the daughter of a teacher and union laborer, both of which instilled in me the importance of hard work. Growing up I was a competitive athlete, and as a result was recruited to play softball at an array of universities, one of which was the United States Military Academy at West Point. I was accepted to West Point in 1994 and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in 1998, at which time I was commissioned into the active-duty Army as an Engineer Officer. I served on active duty for 5-years and exited the military as a Captain, during this time completed a Master of Arts degree at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas.
As my husband and I transitioned out of the military, I tried my hand in the private sector and soon realized that to be fulfilled I needed to continue working in some capacity in service to others. I come from a long succession of educators, and after some contemplation decided to enter into the field of education. This was the right decision for me and I have never looked back since. I loved and value my time as a classroom teacher, but also felt that I could better serve in schools if I used the leadership skills nurtured while at West Point and in the military. While working as a teacher I began taking courses to earn a degree in education leadership at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA). I earned a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies (CAGS) from MCLA, which positioned me to earn certification as a school administrator and begin working in that field upon moving to Massachusetts.
In addition to my educational accomplishments, I am a proud mother of two children. My daughter is entering her senior year at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and has plans to enter law school in the fall of 2024. My son is about to embark on his junior year in the Wakefield Public Schools, and is a very accomplished student athlete and more specifically a wrestler. My family has been a pillar of support throughout my career, and I am grateful for their unwavering encouragement, especially that of my husband of nearly 23-years who is always my strongest advocate. I remain close with my parents in New York and my 2 sisters who both work in higher education, one as a collegiate softball coach and one as a college professor of education.
As your (Interim) Principal at RMHS next year, I am dedicated to continuing to build a positive and inclusive learning environment. My goal is to provide each and every student with the tools, resources, and support they need to thrive academically, socially, and emotionally. Together with our exceptional faculty and staff, I am committed to nurturing the talents and potential of our students, preparing them to become thoughtful and engaged citizens in our ever-changing world.
As we close out the 2022-23 school year, I hope that everyone has time to enjoy the beautiful summer months. I too will be taking some time for rest and reprieve but will also be diligently preparing for the opening of next school year. When we commence the 2023-24 school year, I hope that you will work alongside me to continue to foster a strong partnership between the school, parents, and the wider community. Together, we can create an environment that promotes academic rigor, fosters a love for learning, and embraces the unique talents and abilities of each student. I am thrilled to be a part of the Reading Memorial High School in this new capacity, and I look forward to working alongside our talented educators, supportive parents, and most importantly, our incredible students. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me if you have any questions, concerns, or ideas you would like to share.
More information regarding student schedules, summer office hours, summer assignments for courses will be shared within the next week. Please continue to check the Parent Newsletter for important updates, the final newsletter for 2022-23 will be published at the end of this week and will pick up again before the opening of school in August.
Please also find a brief welcome video linked here: Welcome Video Link
Jessica B. Callanan
Reading Memorial High School