Photo by Brandon Alms
Nicole Holt’s career in Springfield Public Schools began with teaching first grade and she is now the deputy superintendent of academics for SPS. When the COVID-19 outbreak meant schools had to close, Holt helped to transform the way SPS engaged with students.
On Responding to a Crisis
“I was not surprised at all with how Springfield Public Schools or other community agencies responded.” Nicole Holt says of the local response to the COVID-19 pandemic. “I just look at the different partnerships that were already in existence and how we have leaned in and leveraged those, whether it be just simply providing childcare for first responders or figuring out how we're all going to collectively support feeding people during this time. Those were our first priorities—the wellbeing and the physical needs of our students and of our families was the first thing that we attempted to solve. Then we very quickly moved into, ‘Okay, how are we going to continue to educate?’ That’s taken a lot of work from a lot of great individuals within our system and our teachers—oh my goodness. They're the real heroes. I think as we move forward, it’s another point of connection for us and it only further allows us to collaborate in more efficient and effective ways to support people in crisis and out of crisis.”
On Her Connection to Springfield
Holt considers herself a Springfield native, with her family moving here when she was just two years old. “I had really wonderful experiences with Springfield,” Holt says. “I think my investment in the community has started in the latter half of my career through my involvement in some organizations that highlight the community and service aspects of Springfield that, as an early adult, I just didn't have awareness of. That has really helped me to look back and just see the places and opportunities where I can pour back in or be a part of shaping that.”
Community is important to Holt, especially for teachers. “I believe that a well-rounded teacher is a teacher that not only knows the internal workings of the system they work for, but also understands how the community functions in the larger picture of educating our kids.”
Holt has helped to facilitate this connection through her role and her involvement with Leadership Springfield. “My partnership and connection to [Leadership Springfield] is strong." Holt says. "The network of other leaders and organizations that I've been able to learn with and from all really stem from my involvement with that organization.”