City Schools superintendent resigns

By Joseph Slacian

Wabash City Schools Superintendent Jason Callahan has resigned.

The Wabash school board approved his resignation at its Jan. 4 meeting, pending his appointment to the position of Assistant Secretary of Pathways and Opportunities with the Indiana Department of Education.

Callahan has been with the Wabash City Schools for 16 years, first as Wabash High School assistant principal, then as principal and eventually as superintendent.

“There’s no way I can sit here and thank every person who I’ve been able to connect with over the last 16 years,” he said.

“There’s a lot, a lot people that have meant a lot to me during this time, so I want to avoid that.

“People have said really nice things about me, and at the end of the day, I think I’ve always kept kids’ focus first.”

Callahan told the board that the Wabash position was the first administrative post in his career, and he thought he would gain a few years’ experience before moving on to a bigger city.

“In the first couple weeks I ran into a few kids that just changed my life and have really impacted me since then,” he said.

“What I found is there were a lot of opportunities to make a big difference in the lives of kids in Wabash, and there were a lot of people – we talk about people, not programs all the time – and there were a lot of people that wanted to join that.”

Praise for Callahan was quick to come from the board, both individually at the meeting and in a prepared statement released on Tuesday, Jan. 5.

“Wabash City Schools has built a reputation for being an innovative school district built upon relationships and this is in large part to the foresight Mr. Callahan brought during his time as superintendent,” the board said in its prepared statement. “While we are saddened to see Mr. Callahan leave our district, we know he will continue to be an advocate for Wabash City Schools and the Wabash community.

“We wish him the very best with his new responsibilities.”

Board Vice President Bill Konyha, who was on the board when Callahan was named WHS principal and WCS superintendent, praised Callahan for his vision for the district.

“Jason brought an awful lot to our school system and to our community,” he said. “One of the primary things that he’s done is help us to build and establish a culture for our school corporation. It is a culture of innovation and creativity; a culture with a global partnership; one with a focus on partnerships, long partnerships that you and the school corporation have developed locally, regionally and statewide. We know how that can help our school corporation.”

Callahan, Konyha continued, helped get the district’s “eyes out of the rear-view mirror and focused on the horizon, and I will always appreciate that.”

That culture, he noted, helped spawn an Early College High School at Wabash, Dual Credits, embracing technology, exchange programs and the 21st Century Vocational Education which resulted in Industry Recognized Certification, as well as the Best of the Best program and Project Lead the Way.

Other school officials – from building principals to board members – also praised Callahan.

O.J. Neighbours principal Nijaul Drollinger said, “I want to congratulate Mr. Callahan, although I will say I anticipated working more than four months with him. Good luck on your endeavors.”

Middle School principal Mike Mattern also congratulated Callahan for his job change.

“We came into administration about the same time and kind of grew up in administration together,” Mattern said. “It’s been fun to work with you. I appreciate your vision that has led us to where we are now.”

To help with the search for Callahan’s replacement, the board voted to hire Dr. Michael Adamson of the Indiana School Board Association to assist in the process. He will receive $2,500.

In the interim, Callahan’s responsibility will be divided between Matt Stone and Emily Tracy, WCS’ business manager and director of curriculum and instruction, respectively. Each will receive $10,000.

Under question by Konyha, both Stone and Tracy said they would be seeking to replace Callahan on a permanent basis.

The board also agreed to pay Callahan $12,000 for unused sick time in exchange for “consultation in regard to existing work throughout the transition, institutional knowledge, and other advice pertaining to the successful operation of Wabash City Schools.”

Posted on 2021 Jan 12