Caldwell Elementary School has a new principal, and he is a familiar face to the students and staff there. Zachary B. Holt was named the school’s new principal with July 1 being his first official day in his new position.
Holt comes from a family of educators, so he is following a family tradition. His father, Buddy Holt, served as the principal of Caldwell for seven years. He is proud of his son and this accomplishment. “He has worked hard for this,” said the senior Holt. “Now, it is time for him to do what he does with the opportunity given him.”
Holt’s grandfather, Ray Collins, was the principal at Scottsboro High School when it was in the building that now houses Collins Intermediate School. This school was named after him.
Holt is excited about his new role and hopes this school year will be a return to normalcy after the ups and downs last year due to COVID.
He served as the assistant principal with former principal Corky Hood and says she prepared him. Hood has taken a new job at the Central Office.
Hood has this to say about her successor. “Mr. Holt will be an asset to Caldwell Elementary. I feel confident in Mr. Holt taking the reins. He is a natural born leader. He takes time to get to know the individual child and what that child is interested in so that he can talk to them on their level. He believes in the importance of differentiation and values high quality instruction. I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to work with him. He has become one of my closest friends.”
“Mr. Holt strived to succeed,” Hood adds. “He wanted to learn. We worked as a team always as equals.”
At the time of his promotion to principal, Holt was working with the Summer Reading Camp at Caldwell which was a huge success.
“Every student in the camp grew to some degree,” he proudly adds.
The average growth for the 12 kindergarten students was 14 percent with 12 percent for the 31 first graders, 10 percent for the 32 second graders, and six percent for the 28 third graders. Holt credits this to the teachers and having small group instruction so individual needs could be met.
Everyone knows that last year was an unusual year for education. Holt said that the professional educators at Caldwell went to work to do the best for the students.
As time has passed since the three elementary schools were consolidated, Holt feels that Caldwell has unity and feels like a family. He credits the leadership under Hood with making this work.
When the school bell rings in a few weeks, Holt and his staff will welcome the students back to the building. He hopes this will be one of the most normal years and has no plans for any big changes. He just wants everyone to have a good year.
On the first day of school, Aug. 9, parents will be able to walk their children to their classrooms. As a parent himself, he knows how important this is for younger students and their parents.
Two Parent Orientation meetings are planned for July 28 and 29 at the Page Administration Building with times to be announced soon. Holt plans to go over the handbook with the parents during this time. Open house is planned for August, and the specifics of that will be announced soon. Each grade will come a separate night because of the number of students at Caldwell.
“There is no place I would rather be than here,” says Holt. “It’s hugs and high fives all day. It’s my favorite place to be.”
Holt has been in education since 2003 when he started out in the Dekalb County School System. He was a head basketball coach for the girls varsity and junior varsity teams as well as an assistant head coach for varsity football.
Holt came to the Scottsboro City School System in 2006 where he started out at Scottsboro High School. He was an assistant football coach, and assistant junior high baseball coach. He taught driver’s education.
It was May 2009 when Holt moved to the elementary level at Nelson Elementary School where he coached physical education until 2018. He was the first Scottsboro City Schools employee to receive a state grant for a full semester of apprenticeship in administration.
He led school-wide committees such as Title I Budget, PST meetings, and worked on the Continuous Improvement Plan. He served as an assistant football coach and assistant junior high baseball coach.
Holt was the interim principal at Brownwood Elementary School for the first two weeks of the 2017-2018 school year. He formed Brownwood’s Technology Committee, held a faculty meeting to discuss the Title I budget in time to meet state deadlines among other duties during this time.
Holt joined the staff at Caldwell Elementary as assistant principal in 2018. He has handled discipline issues, maintained student attendance records for the school, coordinated the arrival and dismissal of students, and participated in numerous meetings.
Holt is a native of Scottsboro and graduated from Scottsboro High School. He earned his BSE in kinesiology and physical education from the University of Alabama and his MS in educational leadership from Alabama A & M University.
Holt and his wife, Nikki, have three children who attend city schools. McGowan will be an eighth grader, Reese will be a seventh grader, and the youngest, Finn, will be starting Pre K.
His parents are Buddy and Jenifer Holt. He has a brother Jordan who is in the Navy and lives in the Washington, D.C., area, and a sister, Elizabeth, who lives in Atlanta.
His grandparents are the late Ray and Billie Collins.