Irish Homecoming: Class of 2000 Grad Joins TAHS English Department

Mr.+Jonathan+Holmes+is+the+newest+member+of+the+TAHS+English+Department.+He+is+a+2000+Tyrone+High+School+graduate+and+a+2004+PSU+graduate.

Steven Sessesman

Mr. Jonathan Holmes is the newest member of the TAHS English Department. He is a 2000 Tyrone High School graduate and a 2004 PSU graduate.

After a 20 year “break,” Tyrone Class of 2000 graduate Jonathan Holmes is back at TAHS, this time as the newest member of the high school English department.

Holmes took over the sophomore English classes for Mr. David Rutter, who transferred to the elementary school as the new Dean of Students in early January.

“It’s so neat to be walking these halls again,” said Holmes, “These are the same halls I walked as a student, and it’s awesome to do so as a teacher. Tyrone is my home; it’s a great feeling to be back, and I’m honored to be able to have this opportunity.”

“It’s so neat to be walking these halls again. These are the same halls I walked as a student, and it’s awesome to do so as a teacher. Tyrone is my home; it’s a great feeling to be back, and I’m honored to be able to have this opportunity”

— Jonathan Holmes

While he is excited to be back, there are a few “weird” aspects of teaching in your old high school, according to Holmes.  “Like calling some of my former teachers by their first name or seeing my old lockers, but overall, things have been going well,” said Holmes.

Holmes grew up in Port Matilda and while a student at TAHS he played trumpet for the Golden Eagle Marching, Jazz, and Concert bands. He was also a member of POPS Extension and the Drama Club.

After high school, he earned a degree in English from Penn State Altoona in 2004 and enrolled at Penn State University Park as a grad student in 2005, and graduated with a Master’s Degree in Education a year later.

Prior to coming back to Tyrone, Holmes taught English at Bedford Area High School for the last 14 years.

Changing schools would be difficult for any teacher, but moving in the middle of the school year during a pandemic is especially challenging, but so far Holmes is making the transition smoothly.

“I like how Mr. Holmes is funny and jokes around during class and he’s a clown in the circus,” says sophomore Sage Rumberger, a student in his sophomore English class.

Holmes describes his teaching style as “participatory.” He wants his students to contribute to the class.

“My former students have found that if they participated in the discussions, did their work well, and didn’t try to take short cuts, they got the most out of my class,” said Holmes.

Hands down, his favorite subject to teach is poetry.

“A lot of students don’t understand [poetry], or they’re intimidated by it. That makes teaching it more fun for me. Being able to help students understand why poetry is the way it is, and how it works the way it does is incredible. That’s where I see a lot of lightbulb moments, and I can’t get enough of it. I also really enjoy teaching To Kill a Mockingbird, Night, and The Pearl. Shakespeare is fun too, but I’m not going to overdo it my first year at Tyrone,” said Holmes.

I was fortunate enough to visit Ireland after high school as a graduation gift to myself. If I could, I’d go back every year.”

— Jonathan Holmes

His general advice to his students in his class is to work hard and avoid taking shortcuts.

“There’s always a shortcut, but it’s not always a good idea to take it. I have high expectations and standards for my students, so short, sweet, and simple answers or “the easy way” aren’t going to work well in my class. I like to walk alongside the students as they work through literature and compositions. Literature is a journey, an adventure, and it’s one I love to help others experience and learn from,” said Holmes.

Holmes currently lives in Tyrone with his wife Kim and two sons, Ryleigh and Declan. Ryleigh is in 5th grade at TAMS, and Declan is a first-grader at TAES.

In his spare time, Holmes is interested in poetry, photography, and his biggest passion, which is anything that has to do with Ireland.

“I was fortunate enough to visit Ireland after high school as a graduation gift to myself. If I could, I’d go back every year. Ireland and the trip honestly changed my life. I hope to go back one day. My wife and I plan to go at some point, hopefully before I’m 60,” said Holmes.

Holmes is also a Jaffa Shriner and a member of the Calliope Clowns.

So if you’re ever at a parade or Jaffa event and see a 6’ 4” Irish Leprechaun that goes by the name of Darby walking about, make sure to wave!