Alumni in the News: Beaverton School District Chief Academic Officer brings endurance to the job
Author: By Wendy Owen, The Oregonian
Posted: August 23, 2013

Read the original article in The Oregonian here.

If stamina and endurance are keys to success as Beaverton School District's new chief academic officer, Maureen Callahan won't have any trouble.

She hopes to complete her first Ironman triathlon on Sunday. That's the big one -- a two-and-a-half-mile swim followed by a 112-mile bike ride and a marathon.

callahanIIJPG.JPGView full sizeMaureen Callahan, Beaverton School District Chief Academic Officer

Callahan, 50, is part of the school district's reorganization of district-level administration. She will fill a position left empty by Holly Lekas, who oversaw middle school programs and retired in June.

But Callahan's job is entirely different from Lekas'. Callahan is believed to be the first chief academic officer in the Beaverton School District. That means she will oversee the Teaching and Learning Department, which handles K-12 programs, curriculum, assessment and teacher training in collaboration with schools.

She will be the fourth chief officer in the district, joining human resources, information and technology, and financial officers.

Callahan will be paid $130,600 a year, which is about $440 less than Lekas.

The reorganization will expand Deputy Superintendent Carl Mead's responsibilities. Previously, he oversaw Teaching and Learning. Now, he will oversee Callahan, Chief Human Resources Officer Sue Robertson and Chief Information and Technology Officer Steve Langford.  

Mead said the reorganization will allow him to better align the three areas. For example, preparing for the new Common Core State Standards can combine the work of Teaching and Learning to train teachers, use resources in the IT department for assessment of the standards and rely on the human resources department to work with universities on the type of training new teachers should have.

"The work, ideally, would have been aligned," Mead said. "But it didn't always happen (previously)."

Callahan, who was among 15 candidates from inside and outside Oregon, said she applied for the job because she likes a challenge, and she knew the work that was happening in Beaverton.

"It had a lot of the elements of work around teaching and learning that I like to do and aspire to do," she said. "How to create the most effective and efficient systems to optimize student achievement."

Callahan has spent 27 years in education and previously worked with Beaverton Superintendent Jeff Rose in Canby, where he was superintendent and she was director of student achievement.

She was interviewed by two teams of administrators before her interview with Rose, who makes the final decision on all administrators.

Mead said Callahan's work in Canby was a selling point because small districts require administrators to handle a variety of duties.

"She has a depth of knowledge because of that experience that she will be able to tap into," he said.

Callahan also sees it as a strength. "I can enter into probably any conversation at all levels of teaching and learning."

Callahan grew up in Philadelphia and received her bachelor's degree from West Chester University, her master's from Portland State University and her administrative credentials at Lewis & Clark College.

She started her career as an elementary teacher in Las Vegas. Since then, she has worked as a middle school math teacher in Washington and at Highland Park Middle School in Beaverton. She spent 10 years in the West Linn-Wilsonville School District, where she moved up to assistant principal, and later worked in the North Clackamas School District, where she was an elementary school principal.

Callahan served as director of student achievement in Canby for about six years. In her new job, she will primarily work with executive administrators at the district office, who in turn work with schools, but she does plan to get out into the schools.

For now, however, she is learning how the district works.

"What is our focus, what are the targets, how to support those and what is needed to do the work well," she said.