GRANDVIEW — After 27 years of excelling in an invaluable role for Grandview ISD as a teacher, UIL academic coordinator, senior sponsor and more, Julie Holloway will retire at the end of the current school year — but she’ll always be a Zebra.
Holloway has been an integral contributor within Grandview ISD for nearly three decades. After graduating from Grandview High School herself, Holloway spent her entire 27-year teaching career with Grandview ISD, helping lead the high school UIL academic program to unmatched success while also filling many other roles for the high school and district.
“I graduated from Grandview High School in 1980. I’ve been a Zebra my entire life. And I will never stop being a Zebra,” Holloway said. “I have had such a wonderful career over the years. I want to thank everyone and let them all know it couldn’t have happened without them. We were successful because we did it together.”
Over the span of those 27 years, Holloway has worn a variety of hats for Grandview ISD. She has taught English, leadership, photography, world history, world geography, speech, debate, journalism, and yearbook classes while also serving as the academic coordinator during her tenure. And she routinely stepped up to fill a number of other roles, earning the moniker “cruise director” from Grandview High School Principal Kirby Basham.
Basham, also a Grandview native and graduate, has known Holloway since he was in elementary school.
“Her family is part of the fabric of Grandview,” Basham said. “She’s one of the people that has helped make this place what it is. I call her the cruise director because she does all of the little things that make high school so fun. She lines up the pictures, she does the yearbook, she takes sports pictures, she takes prom pictures, she organizes Mr. and Mrs. GHS, she’s a senior class sponsor.
“She’s always there. Obviously she’s been a great classroom teacher for years. Students love her class because they know how much she cares about them. And then there’s her contributions with UIL academics.”
Along with the help of her fellow teachers and the hard work of her students, Holloway has taken Grandview’s success in UIL academics to an unprecedented level of success, which includes 37 consecutive district championships. She has coached spelling and vocabulary, one-act play, journalism, cross-examination debate, congressional debate, and current events, and she’s helped guide students in each of those events to the state meet, with several state titles.
“For the last few years, I have even coached UIL students whose parents I also coached,” Holloway said. “I am proud to be a small part of the winning tradition of 37 consecutive years as academic UIL district champions. Being the academic coordinator at Grandview has been my greatest joy.”
Basham said Holloway has helped elevate Grandview into a highly respected power in the UIL academic realm.
“... Julie Holloway is a big part of the academic tradition in Grandview that is known statewide,” Basham said. “She is as well respected an academic coordinator as there is in the state of Texas.”
Holloway said the tradition itself helps keep Grandview at the top, and she hopes they’ll be able to finish the academic competition this year.
“Because of the tradition that we’ve always had, I think that made us work harder,” Holloway said. “The kids are proud of that. ... But they do realize any year we could get beat so they work hard every year. They’re very proud of that tradition and proud we can say we’ve been district champions that long. The beautiful part of that is our athletes are just as big a part of our academic kids. Many of our basketball and football players are on our academic team, too.
“We’re hoping to go back to state again. It’s still up in the air. I message the kids all the time and we have Zoom meetings and remind them to keep working, and they are. It’s been nice to see the kids step up and work on their own. But they’re just as excited to get back as the teachers are.”
Holloway has also been the senior sponsor for many years and she hopes they get to finish this year together amid the school closures due to the COVID-19 virus.
“I love this group of students and I am keeping the faith that we will have our final night under the lights together,” Holloway said. “This is all definitely different but it made me realize how much I do love it and miss being up there and seeing the kids. It shows you how strong your relationships are with your teacher friends and your students.
“I’m certainly going to miss working with those teachers because they are unbelievably great teachers and friends. The kids that I have gotten to build relationships with, I’ve been able to keep those relationships. I don’t think it will ever seem like my ‘last year’ because I’ll continue to have relationships with those people. If would be nice if the school year could end the way we expected, but I guess it being different makes it a little more memorable somehow.”
During her teaching career, Holloway has been named the Grandview Chamber of Commerce Teacher of the Semester, Grandview Chamber of Commerce Teacher of the Year, she was a recipient of the Texas UIL State Sponsor Excellence Award, and this year she was an HEB High School Teacher Lifetime Achievement Award Nominee.
“I am blessed,” she said. “I have enjoyed what I consider the best job in the state of Texas for 27 years. Over the years, I have taught some of the most amazing students and worked with some of the best teachers in the state and will cherish these lifelong friendships. Being successful at a job I love has been easy because of the wonderful teachers and administrators I have been surrounded by for many years. They have always made me feel supported and appreciated. Grandview is a wonderful place and I am so thankful for my years here.”
In addition to the special relationships with teachers and students, Holloway said she’s been blessed to work for such supportive administration.
“Grandview is the best school because of the leadership and support we receive from our administration,” Holloway said. “I am certain that not many teachers have had the opportunity to learn and grow under the leadership of Harold Pinkerton, Larry Smith, Lynn Whitaker, K’Dawn Scroggins, Keith Scharnhorst, Joe Perrin and Kirby Basham.
“I not only learned from their examples, but I learned from their guidance, as well as their love. I can’t describe what this job has meant to me, but I can honestly say that there was never a day that I did not want to be here.”
Ask many students who have walked the halls at Grandview High School who their favorite teacher is, and Holloway’s name would be at or near the top of the list.
“For me, Mrs. Holloway was like my mom figure at the school,” said Brooke Prewitt, a 2018 GHS grad. “She really made school welcoming. She made me want to be there. I had her for first period one year and I was actually excited to go to that first class. She made you want to learn instead of feeling like you had to learn. She’s like the heart and soul of Grandview. It’s going to be way different without her. She supports everything. She really exemplifies how much we all should support one another. I think that’s what I love about her the most.”
“Mrs. Holloway is a good role model,” said Allie Prewitt, a 2018 GHS grad. “She’s a good supporter in everything I did throughout high school. She was always a teacher I could go to for anything. If I was having a bad day, I could talk to her and she would give me confidence. During sports and everything, she was always my No. 1 supporter. She would come to teacher nights for softball and keep up to date with how we’re doing in all our sports.”
Both Allie and Brooke Prewitt had Holloway as a teacher in multiple classes, and they still remain in frequent contact.
“She was willing to help you all the time,” Allie Prewitt said. “She would always give you the materials you needed to succeed. And if she knew you were struggling, she would get with you one-on-one instead of calling you out. She would get with you after class and see what you needed help with. She’s a very interactive and supportive teacher.”
“What’s unique about Mrs. Holloway is that she doesn’t really think of you as a student, she thinks of you as one of her own,” Brooke Prewitt said. “There were plenty of times she noticed I wasn’t having a good day and she’d take me to the side and check on me, and I always thought that was cool. She always was able to make your bad days better.”
Basham said what makes Holloway a special educator is how genuine she is.
“She loves this place, and it shows every day in everything that she does,” Basham said. “She’s genuine. She’s a genuine human being. None of that is fake. She genuinely cares about kids, her co-workers and the community. I can’t tell you how many text messages I’ve gotten from her that asked how baseball did or how the band did or color guard did or how our ag kids did. She cares about her kids on a genuine level.”
Basham recalled how Holloway, in her special, subtle way, helped him during his interview with Grandview ISD for the high school principal position.
“When I came for my interview, I’m sitting at a table in front of 10 people, and I’m nervous because this is my dream job,” Basham said. “They’re asking me these questions and my answers are very straight forward because I was very stiff and nervous. I remember Julie leaning forward and asking me a question that was kind of funny, and I just relaxed. After that, the whole interview changed. Knowing she had my back, I felt like I could relax. I think she could sense that ‘You’ve got this, but you’re nervous so just relax.’ She’s always had my back.”
In retirement, Holloway said she is looking forward to spending more time with her family, including her eight-month-old granddaughter.
“I am accepting a new position in August as ‘Juji’ to an adorable little girl named Halle Jo,” Holloway said. “For a few years before she begins school, we are going to be the best of buddies. It’s just a good time for me before my granddaughter starts school. Some of the best memories I have as a child are with my grandmother. My parents worked so I stayed with her and I just have the best memories with her doing so many things from planting flowers to cooking. I want my grandchild to have those memories.
“I’m looking forward to spending more time with family. My amazing husband, Jeff, has been great. There have been so many times on our anniversary or Valentine’s Day that I was working and he’s been so understanding and supportive. He pushes me to push the kids. He’s real proud of our academic success, too. Jeff and I plan to travel and enjoy our children, Prescott and Cheyenne Holloway, and granddaughter.”
Even in retirement, Basham knows he’ll be able to count on Holloway.
“I’m excited about the future of Grandview academics because of the foundation Julie has laid,” Basham said. “I know she’s a phone call away and will still be our No. 1 Zebra supporter.”