North Summit School District Superintendent is Utah’s Superintendent of the Year
September 18, 2018
As the president of the Utah School Superintendents Association, Jerre Holmes was eager to hear which one of his colleagues would be recognized as the Utah Superintendent of the Year. When his name was read during the association's meeting last week, he paused, unsure if he had misunderstood.
He said he was shocked and grateful to be handed a plaque that recognized his work as superintendent of the North Summit School District for the past eight years.
"I'm honored to be recognized by my peers and colleagues, because I know of all the amazing things they each do in their districts," he said. "For them to think enough of me is really humbling."
Holmes has been leading the school district in Coalville since 2010, working with teachers, students and the community to provide top-notch education in a small district.
When he started working in the field 31 years ago, Holmes said he did not know what a superintendent was, let alone want to be one. All he wanted to do was teach students. He started as an English teacher at Ben Lomond High School in Ogden, then moved to Rich High School in the rural town of Randolph.
He coached football and basketball and, eventually, was hired as the principal of the high school. He moved to North Summit High School as an assistant principal and a coach, because he wanted a change.
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He later stepped into the principal role and then, in 2010, became the district's superintendent. He said he has loved his position working in a small district, so he can continue to interact with students but also make a big-picture difference.
Since he started as superintendent, he has made an impact. He helped the district become a one-to-one school, meaning every student has access to a computer and iPad. That change, he said, makes students ready for post-high school education.
He also implemented a reading foundation that prepares young children to read before they enter the school system. Recently, he launched the I SWEAR initiative (Inspiring Students With Empowering Adult Relationships), which pinpoints students with attendance or behavior problems and pairs them with a mentor.
"We have a lot of kids in our system that just need a positive adult role model," he said. "They need adults to put an arm around them."
The initiative includes adding resources for mental health, which is why Holmes helped hire a counselor in the elementary school and is looking to hire a district therapist. His passion, he said, is to not let "anyone fall through the cracks."
Julie Black, business administrator for the district, has worked in multiple roles with Holmes since he started at the district in 2000. She said it is obvious that students are his main priority.
"He seeks to make it work for every type of student, not just the great ones," she said. "He has a soft heart for those students who struggle."
Wade Murdock, principal of North Summit High School, agreed. He said Holmes is supportive of the administrative team and listens to the concerns they have.
This work, and Holmes' commitment to continuing to improve the district, were quoted in a press release announcing Holmes' award.
He was happy to be recognized but said he did not do it alone.
"Any success that I've had in this district is from an outstanding board who supports me and great, great people that are in the schools doing the actual, in-the-trench work for kids," he said.