Impromptu Presenter

Sam Callahan ’19 can toggle between listener and lecturer in the time it takes to say “The Power of Visualization.”

That’s the name of the impromptu presentation Callahan gave at the International Society for Technology in Education conference, held in Philadelphia this past June, when the speaker for a session on data visualization failed to show. Callahan’s talk on the same topic was “90% ready” for another event when he offered himself as a last-minute sub, engaging the dozens of educators in attendance and inspiring one school principal to stay an hour after to chat.

A third-grade teacher at Sioux Center’s Kinsey Elementary since 2019, Callahan recently added the role of district data specialist to continue the work he started his very first year: making school data accessible. He’s found that interactive charts and graphs are key to efficient communication in the linguistically diverse district—and easier to navigate than complex spreadsheets.

“For five minutes at the start of a meeting, we can look at data and learn from it right away,” Callahan says. “Then we spend the rest of our meeting designing action plans and figuring out how to actually help kids.”

Callahan recently tracked 12 years of testing trends for the district. His data visualization included 90,000 scores.