James Callane

James Callane began serving on the state's eLearning Leadership Cadre earlier this month, which is made up of the “most strategic, visionary leaders in Indiana,” according the Indiana Department of Education. Photo provided

After 20 years of working for the Maconaquah School Corporation, James Callane is preparing to lead it.

Callane has served as assistant superintendent of the small district in Bunker Hill for the last eight years. He is now preparing to step into the role of current Superintendent Doug Arnold.

Callane began his education career at the Northwestern School Corporation over 20 years ago, where he taught English. While teaching, he attended school to earn his principal’s license. Once he obtained his license, Callane moved into the Maconaquah district, starting as the middle school assistant principal and athletic director.

He grew up in Kokomo, where his father worked as the Haworth High School basketball coach and his mother taught at Elwood Haynes Elementary School.

Once he graduated from high school, Callane knew he wanted to stay nearby. Maconaquah is a good fit, he said, because his family and his wife’s family are all nearby.

His two children, Josie and Jude, attend Maconaquah Elementary, just yards from Callane’s office. During the school’s career day, where students were encouraged to dress up to show off whatever career they hope to enter, Jude dressed up as a superintendent.

To Jude, that meant dressing like his father, complete with a bow tie and suit jacket.

“I thought it was awesome," Callane said.

He said he plans to continue building a positive school culture, focusing on financial responsibility and student achievement.

“I look at myself as Maconaquah’s biggest cheerleader,” he said.

Over the last few years, the district has heavily pushed STEM, which stands for science, technology, engineering and math. The middle school is a state-certified STEM school, and Arnold has worked to try to get the entire district certified.

Callane said he will continue to push for STEM initiatives, such as the elementary schools’ STEM classrooms and the school agriculture program, but he hopes to push activities for a variety of student interests, including arts and social sciences.

“We need to provide experiences in a variety of areas,” Callane said.

Robert Dane, president of the Maconaquah school board, said he was pleased with the board’s decision to hire Callane as the new superintendent.

“If you talk to a lot of people in the community, when you mention his name, it’s kind of synonymous with Maconaquah,” Dane said. “He’s all about seeing the school succeed. He’s one of the biggest cheerleaders for the school.”

What sealed the deal for the board, Dane said, is that Callane wants the school to be the best, not just settling for adequate test scores.

Arnold said he’s excited to see Callane step into the role. He added that he’s also excited to retire, though he plans to stay busy by possibly teaching and consulting for school districts.

“I feel I’m ready to do something different,” Arnold said. “I feel very good with Dr. Callane at the helm. I know things are in good hands with Dr. Callane.”

Education Reporter Caele Pemberton can be reached at 765-454-8587, by email at caele.pemberton@kokomotribune.com or on Twitter @CaelePemberton

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