Our Head of School and Principals

Head of School

Christopher HaskinsChristopher Haskins has been dedicated to educating young people his entire career, including more than a decade as a principal in Rhode Island public schools. He most recently served as Principal of Dunn’s Corners School in Westerly, and he previously was a principal in the Cranston Public School District. Prior to being a principal, Chris taught English, including English Language Learners, and other subjects in Attleboro, Central Falls, and at the Seven Hills Charter School in Worcester, MA.

He is a founding board member of the Center for Leadership and Educational Equity, a Rhode Island non-profit committed to providing leaders with professional development and support equitable outcomes for students in schools. The Center is the home of Principal Residency Network, a principal certification program approved by the Rhode Island Department of Education, as well as the Learning Leader Network, where Chris has been coaching learning communities for teacher leaders and school leaders across Rhode Island and Massachusetts since 2010.

Upper School Principal

Becky Coustan, Upper School PrincipalA Rhode Island native, Upper School Principal Becky Coustan brings 15 years of education experience to her position. She has held a variety of teaching and leadership roles, including teaching social studies as a Lead Teacher at Central High School in Providence, serving as a district leader in social studies curriculum and professional development, and leading teaching and learning reforms as Lead Coach at Providence’s Hope High School. She has twice received Teacher of the Year awards, one from Central High School and one from the High School for Legal Studies in New York City.

Prior to joining PCS, Ms. Coustan served as a Regents District Visit Fellow at the RI Department of Education, leading collaborative school visits with teams of administrators and educators to recommend school improvements. Previously she practiced law and taught social studies in New York.

Ms. Coustan holds a B.A. in history from Yale, a master’s degree in school administration and supervision from Touro College, and a J.D. from New York University’s School of Law. She is a nationally board-certified teacher in adolescence and young adulthood for social studies and history. In addition, she is a member of the Rhode Island Bar and holds Rhode Island educational leadership and teaching certificates as a superintendent of schools, principal, administrator for curriculum and instruction, and teacher of secondary social studies, history, sociology, and political science.

Middle School Principal

eric_picEric Charlesworth has over a decade of experience working with Paul Cuffee School students and their families. Before becoming principal, he taught sixth-grade mathematics at the Middle School. As the first head of the math department, he helped to create and shape the mathematics curriculum and structures, as well as the School’s advisory program.

As an educator deeply grounded in the philosophy that student success relies on a blend of good relationships, social skills, and engagement with learning, Mr. Charlesworth serves as a national facilitator for The Origins Program Developmental Designs – the pedagogy that undergirds the Middle School’s approach in helping Cuffee students to value and practice personal initiative, perseverance, and social responsibility. In preparation for advancing into an administrative leadership position, Mr. Charlesworth spent a year working at the Paul Cuffee Upper School while obtaining his Building Administrator’s License through the Principal Residency Network.

Originally from Rochester, NY, Mr. Charlesworth was a journalist in New York City before returning to school and completing a Masters of Arts in Teaching from Brown University. His goal in his new role is to continue enhancing Paul Cuffee’s tradition of building strong relationships across the school in order to best meet the needs of students so that each one can grow socially, emotionally and academically.

Interim Lower School Principal

interim_epOn May 5, the Paul Cuffee Community welcomed Dr. Jane Perkins as Interim Principal, Lower School. Dr. Perkins has spent the past year working as a leadership facilitator and coach in Rhode Island schools, including Paul Cuffee School (Lower and Middle Schools). She is the former Lower School Principal at the Claiborne Pell School in Newport. Dr. Perkins recently obtained her doctorate in Educational Leadership at Johnson and Wales University. She was an elementary teacher for 13 years in the Westerly Public Schools, including 10 years teaching first grade, before obtaining her Principal’s Certificate through the Principal Residency Network. Dr. Perkins has served as a volunteer firefighter with the Watch Hill Fire Department for 15 years and as Captain of the Fire Department for the past 10 years. She resides with her family in Westerly.