James Monroe Elementary School students say their good-byes to Principal Gerard Holzman during an assembly to celebrate his 17 years of service at the Everett school on Wednesday, June 21. (Ian Terry / The Herald)

James Monroe Elementary School students say their good-byes to Principal Gerard Holzman during an assembly to celebrate his 17 years of service at the Everett school on Wednesday, June 21. (Ian Terry / The Herald)

Everett elementary says goodbye to principal of 17 years

EVERETT — He didn’t just remember all 561 students’ names. He knew their stories. The same went for his staff.

Monroe Elementary in south Everett held an assembly Wednesday to say goodbye to Principal Gerard Holzman.

Holzman has been at the school for 17 years. He’s starting a new job in the district office.

All the children wore ties, some of cloth and some of paper. Staff presented a homemade quilt and a large painting of an eagle, Monroe’s mascot, featuring fingerprints from every kid.

The teachers described a principal who always listened. He could be “Dr. Bossman,” who knew to push people so they could grow. He also knew to tell them when they were off-course. It didn’t hurt that his laugh reminded them a little bit of Santa Claus.

Holzman, 62, draped the quilt over his shoulders.

For 17 years, every morning while he fastened his tie, he thought about his employees and students at school, he said. He made a mental list of who he needed to speak with and who he wanted to check on. He reminded himself he was lucky. He got to be around good people.

Holzman always dreamed of working at a school where all the children wore ties, he joked. That was less important than his vision for Monroe, though. He wanted it to be a certain kind of place for children, and adults.

It was a place where they could work through their past experiences, get the lessons that only come from making mistakes, and, most of all, learn the value of kindness.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @rikkiking.

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