New Principal Announced for West Hartford’s Smith STEM School

Ashley Callan. West Hartford Public Schools photo

Ashley Callan has been named the principal of Smith STEM School.

By Ronni Newton

Following an extensive search process, Ashley Callan has been named the next principal of Smith STEM School, West Hartford Acting Superintendent Paul Vicinus announced Wednesday.

She will take over for Teresa Giolito who is retiring after serving as Smith STEM’s principal for eight years.

In a letter to the Smith STEM community, Vicinus noted that the school is unique and special and the search process for a new principal was for “a leader of character, caring, skill, and compassion.”

Callan, he noted, “distinguished herself from a highly competitive pool of candidates based on her knowledge of the students and the community, her passion for the school’s mission, her talent for instructional leadership, and her demonstrated commitment to equity and creating opportunities for all learners.”

Callan has worked in the district for 17 years, starting off as a classroom teacher at Norfeldt in 2006. After earning her master’s in reading and language arts, corrective and remedial reading, she became a reading specialist for Norfeldt as well as Morley School. In 2014, she was promoted to townwide curriculum specialist for Literacy and Social Studies where her role included the review, revision, resourcing and implementation of the PK-5 curriculum for both language arts and social studies. She also served as elementary program coordinator for the district’s Remote Learning Experience during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Mrs. Callan is a recognized leader in literacy education having served as a writing and reviewing team member on the Connecticut Elementary and Social Studies Framework, a writing pilot study participant in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), and co-author of the Where I Live: Connecticut ebook and Magazine adopted for statewide use in elementary social studies instruction. Mrs. Callan is also published in a number of educational periodicals and has extensive reach as a professional development presenter locally, and at the state and regional levels,” Vicinus wrote in the announcement.

She is dedicated to the district’s vision of equity, and has worked “to advance the diversity of representation within our curriculum and integrate the voices and stories of underrepresented groups in meaningful and authentic ways,” Vicinus said. She is an advocate for students and their families, and the family and community partnerships she has created enhance the overall curriculum and also “support and strengthen the welcoming nature of our schools.”

Vicinus said Callan will be meeting with children and their families over the summer to strengthen existing bonds and further develop relationships with the community.

“I have the utmost confidence that Mrs. Callan will lead the Smith STEM community along a path of continued success and new heights. Her proven record of leadership has earned her the trust and confidence of the staff and her example will cement and reinforce that support. I am certain you will find her caring, kind and committed to the success of every child,” Vicinus said.

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