Principal Profile: Nick Holtvluwer
Working alongside kids has always been part of life’s plan for Mammoth Heights Elementary School principal Nick Holtvluwer – just not quite in the capacity it is today. Originally from Michigan, Holtvluwer will tell you a job inside a classroom was the last place he expected to be. He originally went to school at Hope College in Holland, Michigan, and earned his degree in communications. After working at a news station for several years, Holtvluwer determined his dream job to work at a PBS station with kids was a bit out of reach. So he returned to Hope College earning his teaching degree and later his master’s degree in Educational Leadership from the University of South Florida.
Stay connected with Mr. H!
His zest for life and adventure took him from his home state of Michigan to Florida where he taught first, second and third-grades and spent time as an assistant principal. Holtvluwer later returned to Holland, Michigan to become the school principal at Woodside Elementary. But in July 2016 adventure was calling his name again and Holtvluwer and his family relocated to Parker, Colorado to take the helm at Mammoth Heights Elementary School. An opportunity he can hardly believe presented itself.
“Landing at Mammoth is a dream come true, from where I’ve been I’ve seen a lot of different educational backgrounds and philosophies in Florida and Michigan and I just think there are a lot of great things happening in Douglas County and it’s exciting to be part of. Every day I walk in and think-- Wow-I have my dream job,” says Holtvluwer.
Taking a step in Mammoth Heights, watching the interactions between students and staff, feeling the energy that exudes out of every corner and it’s easy to tell even though Holtvluwer has only been there for a few months, the impression he’s leaving is lasting.
“Mammoth will be a destination school- it’s where teachers want to come work and students want to come learn, parents will want to drive half an hour to get to Mammoth because it’s the place people know and it just feels different. They see the power of very successful teachers, caring teachers, powerful teachers and want to be part of our community,” says Holtvluwer.
Holtvluwer says being the “boss” isn’t the best part of his job, but watching his staff develop and become the best teachers they can be is a big reason why he credits his role at Mammoth as his dream job.
“I really believe in empowering teachers – staying positive, energetic, and making those decisions inside their own classrooms that are best for kids. Sometimes that’s centered around data and sometimes it’s centered around providing that caring and nurturing
One of the things his students love most about their new principal, Mr. H., is the fun and engaging morning show he puts on YouTube daily called "Good Morning, Mammoth Heights!"
“I get to put my face on every screen, in every classroom, in front of every student and talk about what’s great at Mammoth – announcements, lifelong skills, celebration of birthdays and new students, so it’s just a way I get to be present- I think as a principal that is the most important thing you can be. I hate to be in the office. I like to get out into our building, connect with our kids and the community through our YouTube channel, helping out in the car lines and classroom lineups. I hope I’m leaving a powerful impression with kids while being a positive ambassador for Mammoth Heights Elementary.”
Ten Questions with Nick Holtvluwer
1. What do you enjoy most about your job?
I love collaborating with other educational professionals to establish a positive culture in which all kids are inspired to learn everyday. I love welcoming kids into Mammoth Heights every morning and seeing them excited about coming to school!
2. Who inspires you?
Jon Gordon ("The Energy Bus"). Jim Harbaugh (University of Michigan Football Coach). Joe Maddon (Chicago Cubs Manager). The teachers at Mammoth Heights Elementary. And my wife! (not necessarily in that order...)
3. What was your first job?
Supermarket bag boy...Plastic or Paper?
4. If you had the opportunity to pursue another career, what would you choose?
I've always said that if you can be a principal, you can pretty much do any other job and it would seem pretty easy! But I do have very rudimentary plans to open up a bar & grill on Clearwater Beach in Florida called: "The Principal's Office." A place you want to be sent to!
5. What's an interest or hobby you have that not a lot of people might not know about you?
I love to mountain bike, golf, and lift weights. I also like collect and wear Nike Air Force 1 shoes.
6. What's your favorite item on the school lunch menu?
The salad bar.
7. Do you have any pets?
No pets. Having three kids ages 4 and under is enough for now!
8. What was your first car?
1988 Dodge Charger with fuzzy dice hanging on the rear view mirror.
9. What advice would you give to a college graduate who is entering the field of teaching?
I was once given advice as a teacher to never smile until Thanksgiving... I say smile on the very first day and never quit smiling! Teaching is the greatest profession in the world. Always say, "I get to..." instead of "I have to..." As a teacher, you GET TO shape the future! Do that by building positive relationships with each of your students and all stakeholders. And enjoy the process of teaching by embracing the ups and downs of our calling.
10. If you could be any superhero, who would you choose to be?
I already am one...I work in education! Or...Batman.