"Holmes" where the heart is. | TahoeDailyTribune.com

"Holmes" where the heart is.

Things just won’t be the same next year at St. Theresa Catholic School – Principal Jeanette Holmes, who opened the school seven years ago, is leaving.

“I’m going to miss her a lot,” said Josh Chase, 13. “She’s helped me through the whole year. I got into a lot of trouble and she helped me through it. Without her, I think I would have been kicked out of school by now. She helped me more than just a principal would. She talked to me like a friend or a parent.”

Holmes said she has mixed emotions about her departure.

“My original decision was to go to Sacramento to take care of my mother who is 85,” she said. “But the Diocese kept asking me to apply for principalships. Then, I was asked to apply for the superintendent of Catholic schools in Stockton and I couldn’t resist.”

In her new position, Holmes will be in charge of 12 schools and two Diocesan high schools. Three new schools are slated to open up in her new district, as well.

“It will be a challenge,” said Holmes, who moved to Tahoe from Oakland, where she was in the Department of Catechetical Ministries. “This is very exciting. I will have the opportunity to work professionally with the teachers and the principals.”

A snow lover, Holmes said she will miss the physical beauty of Lake Tahoe but leaving her students at St. Theresa will be most difficult.

“I will miss the children,” she said. “I love working with children. That will be my biggest loss but I will come back for the graduations of all the classes that have been here.”

Students and faculty surprised Holmes Thursday with a farewell tribute, complete with song, dance, skits and a juggling act.

“The thing I’m going to miss the most is you because you are what makes my day,” Holmes said to students when the presentation was over. “That’s what I love most about my career is you, the students, because you light up my life.”

Nine-year-old Andy Burkart said he’ll miss Holmes because she is so nice.

“When she comes into the classroom she tells us what’s going on for that day and I like that because I’m not very big on surprises,” Burkart said. “She’s always fair and I’ll miss her.”

Johnathan Camelo said Holmes is the best principal in the world.

“My favorite thing about Dr. Holmes is that when I got in trouble, she’d talk to me and try to reason it out,” Camelo said. “She was always very fair. She’s just cool.”

St. Theresa teachers shared equally glowing opinions about Holmes.

“I’ve gone through 10 principals, from the Philippines to West Africa, then New York before coming to California,” fourth-grade teacher Ofelia Lent said. “But there is no comparison. Dr. Holmes is the best. She’ll always have a special place in my heart.”

Elizabeth Ferguson, a science and computer teacher, referred to Holmes as a friend, a mentor and as “my conscience for the past five years.

“Her patience and unconditional love is so unbelievable,” she said. “I have never seen anyone who can give so much and ask for so little in return. There will never be another like her. She is indeed a rare lady.”

Holmes will be replaced by Jonathan Bustamante from Alhambra, Calif.

“I think he can handle this job and I’m a person who thinks seven years is a good time for a change,” Holmes said. “Otherwise things get stale.”

During her years at St. Theresa, Holmes started fine arts, music movement, folk dance, choir, algebra, science and Spanish programs, just to name a few.

“I have done all of the things I set out to originally do,” she said. “We’ve accomplished a lot and now I’m going to take a rest.”

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