Historic St George’s announces first woman as head of school

St. George’s School in Newport, Rhode Island has announced that they have appointed their first female head of school, Alexandra Callen. She will be the twelfth head of school since the 1896 founding. She will be replacing Eric Peterson, who has been at the school for the past thirteen years. Callen is a descendant of several alumni.

Callen is coming from being the upper school director of the Lakeside School in Seattle. Before that, she was principal at Acton Boxborough Regional High School in Acton, Mass. and assistant principal of Needham High School in Needham, Mass. She has a bachelor’s and master’s from Brown University, along with a master’s and doctorate from Harvard.

Callen’s family members who are alumni are great-grandfather, Johns H. Congdon ’03, grandfather, James B. Congdon ’41, great uncle, Charles B. Congdon ’40, and uncle, James B. Congdon Jr. ’66. Her husband, James Bailey, is an educator. The couple has two sons, Zander and Miles.

“My entire career has been spent helping teenagers to be kind, to watch out for each other, and to be contributing community members,” said Callen. “To now do that work in a school that has such deep roots for my family makes me humble and proud.”

St. George’s is one of the five elite prep schools that are unofficially called St. Grottlesex. The school has graduated Vanderbilts, Bushes, Astors, and Mellons. It is situated on Aquidneck Island across from Newport. The campus itself is known as the Hilltop.

In a statement, the trustees said, “We are confident that [Callen] will steer the course boldly for St. George’s, continuing to build on our longstanding strengths while at the same time moving St. George’s confidently into the future. She is fully prepared and eager to build upon our forward-thinking curriculum, to foster our safe and welcoming community, and to support our teachers in continually expanding their expertise in teaching and learning.”

Alexandra Callen was introduced to the school by the Board of St. George’s on December 9.