Former student returns as a principal

August 24, 2018

After well over a decade in the education field, Columbus native J.P. Holys’ career has, in a way, come full circle. Holys is finishing up his first full week as principal of Lost Creek Elementary School, the very place he spent his elementary years as a student.

“So I was looking for ways to get back here to be with mom, family and just reconnect with the community,” Holys said. “I am very ecstatic and excited. I am excited to work my tail off for the community I grew up in … It’s an honor to come back and give back to the community that gave me so much growing up.”

The father of three served as the principal and special education director at Fall City Elementary School for seven years before stumbling upon an opening at Lost Creek. Holys said an opportunity like this does not come around very often in Columbus and with his family still living in the area, he proceeded to submit an application.

“I thought ‘Well, we will try it’,” he said.

Holys began his career in Elkhorn as a third-grade teacher and coach for 10 years before moving up to be a principal for Oakland-Craig Public Schools for roughly five years. There, he served preschool through sixth-grade students.

Although he moved away after high school graduation in 1989, Holys said he always kept a close eye on his home turf. He added he has been astounded by how much Columbus continues growing economically and in population.

During his time away, Holys still returned to the area during holidays to visit family.

With more than 12 years of school administrative experience in the bag, Holys said he plans to implement the different skills he has learned to further enhance operations at Lost Creek, noting he is excited to be housing various special education programs at the school.

On Monday, students will be receiving iPads for the first time in an effort to enhance their learning. Holys said he believes these devices can help monitor and track the success of students, as well as expand their knowledge on social media awareness and internet safety.

“…use those tools to excite kids and it opens up the world so that the learning is not just within these four walls,” Holys said. “That iPad can take you all over the world so it’s what we are going to utilize and use as a tool to build on the experiences they can gain here.”

Kristy Spawn, English Language Learning (ELL) teacher at Lost Creek, said she admires the effort Holys puts into gathering students and staff every morning before classes begin for an assembly, which helps strengthen relationships.

During the assemblies, Holys and faculty make announcements, recognizing students who are celebrating their birthdays, as well as awarding students with the ‘You Rock’ award for good performance or helping others. Holys said he hopes to see each student to awarded at least once by the end of the school year.

“I see him out in the hall a lot and I see him in the classrooms a lot, visiting the students and the teachers.” Spawn said. “So I think that’s a nice presence that he is having.”

Moving forward, Holys said he’s excited to continue his growth and career with Lost Creek students, staff and members of its Parent Teacher Organization.

“The staff is awesome ... They’re very helpful and knowledgeable,” he said. “Students have been wonderful. I’ve got a lot of names to learn. I think it started out very cohesive and I think the teachers are kind of learning my leadership style and how I can support them.”

Natasya Ong is a reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach her via email at natasya.ong@lee.net.

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