*This story first appeared in The Budget’s April 25, 2018, Local Edition.
By Stacey Carmany
The East Holmes Board of Education has chosen someone to fill the shoes of retiring Hiland Principal Matt Johnson, and he’s already a familiar face in the school district.
During their April meeting, the board voted unanimously to approve a new, two-year contract for current Student Services Director CJ Spreng, who will serve as the new principal at Hiland following Johnson’s retirement at the end of the 2017-2018 school year.
“He’s really demonstrated a lot of leadership ability and the ability to successfully relate to students and staff,” said East Holmes Superintendent Erik Beun. “I’m really looking forward to his leadership abilities and what he can bring to Hiland.”
Spreng spent the first three years of his career at East Holmes as an intervention teacher at Hiland before being promoted to student services director in 2015.
“I’m honored and excited to have that challenge and be a part of the team and a community that’ll help kids achieve their goals, whether that be in a career or by pursuing college,” Spreng said of the opportunity. “[I’m] honored and humbled to be in the position and be a part of a team and community that’s so well respected and outstanding.”
While he’s excited about the challenges that are ahead, Spreng shared he will also miss the people he’s had the privilege to work with during his time as student services director. “I truly enjoyed my experience of working with the students, families, and staff,” he said. “The families and staff were outstanding to collaborate with in developing an environment for students to be successful in the school and community.”
Beun shared that the district is also extremely grateful to Johnson for his many years of exemplary leadership. “We’ll really miss Matt,” he said. “You’re not in a building for 20-plus years without leaving your leadership mark, and we certainly really appreciate all the things he has led at Hiland.”
Spreng echoed a similar sentiment. “Mr. Johnson has done an outstanding job of leading Hiland over the years,” he said. “His ability to create an environment of high academic and extracurricular success has supported students in preparing for college or a career after high school. Also, I admire his ability to support students, staff, and families through the many changes that have occurred in education. He has always modeled flexibility and the willingness to learn whether it be technology, state testing, or the changing interests of students.”
He added that he is humbled to have the opportunity to continue Johnson’s legacy and wishes him nothing but the best in his retirement.