Palmyra alum, teacher now ready to take over as PHS principal

Palmyra High School science teacher Jared Pontius discusses a dissection project with students Haleigh Wosman, left, and Hunter Crane during an anatomy class last week in in Palmyra, Mo. | H-W Photo/Phil Carlson
Posted: May. 2, 2015 7:41 pm Updated: May. 24, 2015 12:18 am

Staff Writer | 217-221-3385 | @athompsonWHIG

PALMYRA, Mo. -- Jared Pontius said he's excited, though a little anxious, to take the helm of his alma mater this summer.

The Palmyra High School alumnus and science teacher will succeed Ken Holstine as principal July 1. Holstine resigned in February to pursue other employment opportunities.

Pontius graduated from PHS in 1998 and has taught there since 2007. Assuming a leadership role was the natural next step, he said.

"I've always had a lot of pride for that school," Pontius said.

Pontius' goals are to maintain what works at PHS and expand programs that have proved to be helpful. He's also looking forward to building on positive relationships with faculty.

Palmyra R-I Superintendent Eric Churchwell said the School Board voted to hire Pontius in March.

"I'm excited that we'll have a young, energetic person who puts Palmyra High School and its students first in his decision-making," Churchwell said. "He's really an advocate for the kids and the staff."

Pontius pointed to one downside, however. He will no longer be an assistant Panthers football coach or head golf coach next school year.

"That's going to be difficult to give up, but that's the way it is," he said.

Pontius graduated with a bachelor's degree in biochemistry in 2002 and a master's degree in science education in 2004 from the University of Missouri-Columbia. He earned an education specialist degree in administration from William Woods University in Fulton, Mo., in 2013.

He and his wife, Gina, have four children.

Churchwell also said Pontius will being picking up where Holstine left off after four years of service at Palmyra High School.

"Mr. Holstine did a great job, and he'll be missed," Churchwell said. "We wish him luck in his future endeavors."