Galveston ISD is proud to announce April’s E3 Employee of the Month, Wes Holland. Although he says he would like to refer to himself as “Master of the Universe”, Holland’s official job title is Texas ACE Site Coordinator at Oppe Elementary School.
“I’ve always said ‘When I grow up, I want to be a kid,’” says Holland. “The students have given me an opportunity to grow up. I’ve taken life WAY too seriously for a long time.”
Holland was raised in Birmingham, Alabama. In 2006, he met his wife, who was teaching at Galveston College and living on the island. Together they moved to Montgomery, but in 2017, they moved back to the island to be closer to family. His wife was teaching at Galveston ISD and mentioned to him that they were short on substitute teachers.
“She came home exhausted one day mentioning that they were short on substitutes,” explains Holland. “I figured I could help. I’ve always been a huge believer in ‘be the change you want to see in your community.’ It was time for me to be that in my new home.”
Holland says he thinks differently than others. He was a student who needed learning accommodations and differentiated methodology. He describes his approach as more of a business mindset than a purely academic mindset. His biggest motivator is hearing the words “no” or “can’t.”
“I love putting in the work. I love surrounding myself with people who have a mutual understanding and respect. I love being able to say ‘yeah, I knew that teacher, admin, student, person…We did this together.’ Even more than that, I love to be able to magnify the fantastic things they are doing.”
Holland has a long list of projects he and his students are working on and he is equally as passionate about all of them.
He recently helped students from the Texas ACE Oppe robotics team reach the VEX Robotics World Championships.
He also helps with the sailing and fishing partnership with Sea Star Base Galveston, golf, the gardening partnership with Young Gardeners Program, and Targeted Tutoring. He has also worked with the Galveston County Food Bank, The Lighthouse Charity Team, and First Lutheran’s Feed Galveston.
Future projects he has in the works are adding 4H agriculture/livestock; the Winner’s Circle, a community resource to teach leadership and what challenges winners face; and an entrepreneurial class with a business incubation center.
Even as he is being recognized for the dedication and hard work he puts into his role, Holland wants to pass the recognition to everyone around him: other staff members, teachers, parents, students, and community members.
“It’s NEVER me. It never has been,” he says. “It’s the custodians who are here late into the night. It’s transportation staff who are always solving the logistical nightmares. It’s the teachers and staff who plan, teach and reteach, laugh, and cry. It’s the students who show up every day with a smile and the ones who don’t. It’s the administrators who know what needs to happen, but know it won’t be popular. It’s the parents who work tirelessly to give their children a better life. It’s the community members that look at the problems and say ‘here’s how I can help.’ Cheers to those folks. They are why we are successful.”
Below are the descriptions of why Holland’s nominators chose him for E3 Employee of the Month:
“Wes has provided an environment of professional collaboration to benefit ALL students. He has really set the bar for managing volunteers and staff who have substantial contributions based on our campus culture to meet needs and wants. I can't wait to see more of his ideas come to life in the future...and to be a part of the program myself.”
“He works extra hard and works well with teachers to help serve the students in the after school program. He is amazing!”
“Mr. Holland goes over and beyond helping our students especially our at-risk students and English Language Learners as the director of the ACE after school program at Oppe. He provides hand on activities for the students and finds community partners to provide field experiences for students who don't normally receive those opportunities. He has a heart of gold and his caring attitude empowers students to reach their potential.”
“Wes has led a program to benefit ALL students, and very much the bilingual students. He has brought in people to help out the students. Wes is enthusiastic and has great ideas for kids. He is also fantastic with teachers.”