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Holiday opts not to run to finish his PhD degree
Board of Trustee Rex Holliday is pictured (second from right) at a board meeting before the end of the school year with, from left: Assistant Superintendent for Personnel Don Halseth, MUSD staff Chelo DeLeon, Superintendent Jason Messer, Trustee Wendy King who is one of three whose terms are ending in November, and Trustee Evelyn Moore. Trustee Michael Seelyes term also ends this year. - photo by ROSE ALBANO RISSO

WESTON RANCH - Manteca Unified Board of Trustee Rex Holliday is not seeking a second term in the November elections so he can concentrate on his studies.

The husband and father of five is looking forward to finishing his Ph.D. in education by year’s end.

He is taking courses online as a student of Trident University International, a 100 percent online university which is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

He is currently working on dissertation proposal which he expects to present in about a month. In September, he will start writing his dissertation.

It’s that academic work load which was one of the primary reasons he decided to forego seeking another term on the school board, said Holiday who is currently employed in the wireless communication business in the Bay Area. He took over the Area One position that was left vacant when then-incumbent Dale Fritchen ran for, and won, a seat on the City of Stockton City Council.

Holiday’s other reason for not seeking re-election has to do with the dissertation he is working on for his doctorate.

“I feel like I can be a lot more effective in another capacity not as a school board trustee but putting some of the research that I have done” in helping the state of education today, he said.

“I figure I can be more useful. I can contribute more by doing more research in education that the school district may consider implementing,” such as developing new ideas to positively implement discipline among the young students.

“I’ve always wondered that I can do to help,” he said, talking about disciplinary problems that many students have while in school.

When it comes to student disciplinary issues, Holidays sees “three groups of students.” First are the students who are having disciplinary problems “for whatever reason” and are “underachieving because they are not able to stay focused (in their studies) because of their behavior.”

Then there’s the second group who are the “students who are just average – not overachieving, not causing any problems, but are just cruising along and doing what they can. I was like that in school,” he noted.

“Then you have the kids who achieve really high. They just tend to achieve high and hae habits that they developed over the years,” Holiday said.

Understanding how the disciplinary system works in the district was one of the things that he learned while serving as a trustee, and one of the things he found out was that “there’s just so many variables involved.”

Holiday said he wanted to find out “what I can do for the average students to get to the next level because college is so competitive. Even trade school or vocational trade schools are competitive.”

One of the things he looked at from talking with various teachers is the effect music has to students. What he found out was that students who are involved in music tend to be better behaved.

“Something about the discipline or learning an instrument seems to translate to good behavior,” Holiday commented.

Promoting music in the school and utilizing it as an intervention program for at-risk kids has been shown to be successful in some educational institutions in Los Angeles and San Francisco that have tried to implement it, he said.

Parents networking is another tool that he thinks will improve student’s academic performance in school. At the same time, he would like to see more support going into the GATE program for high-achieving students.

“Not a whole lot of funds are going into the GATE (Gifted and Talented Education) program,” Holiday said.

The father of five who has one thing in common with pop singer Britney Spears – Holiday was born and raised in Kimberly, Louisiana where the singer also hails – was born in Idaho and lived in different places because his father was in the  Air Force. After eight years in the military, his father took his family to live in Louisiana. He was still very young when the family moved to the Bay Area and his father earned his college degree.

Holiday and his wife, Jane, and their five children moved to Weston Ranch in 1998. Their youngest is a junior at Weston Ranch High School. They are also the grandparents of two little girls from their third child who is married and living in Utah with her husband. Their oldest daughter lives in San Francisco, while their second daughter is a missionary serving in Texas for their church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Their one son, the fourth of their children, is attending Brigham Young University in Utah and is about to get married.

He’ll miss serving on school board

Holiday said he will miss serving on the school board, and has high praises for his colleagues.

“I’ve enjoyed my time on the school board a lot. There’s a lot more that goes on at the district (administrative) level. That’s been a great education for me. It’s helped me understand where I can contribute,” he said.

“I’m going to miss them (the other board members). I really admire them. I admire the drive that they have and their passion for what they’re doing. They’re just very, very smart people. I’ve learned a lot from them,” said Holiday who referred to himself as a “professional student.”

But that’s only in the context of his going back to school after a 12-year hiatus.

“I finished my AA when I was 21, and didn’t go back to school when I was 38,” he said with a laugh.

His Associate in Arts degree was in journalism. He actually did some writing for a local magazine in the Bay Area. His bachelor’s degree from California State University at Stanislaus was in organizational communication. His master’s degree from Sacramento State was in English with emphasis on creative writing.

“I like to write, and I like poetry,” he said.

He is also interested in fiction and fantasy. He has had one short story published online.

“But my novel is collecting a little bit of dust right now,” with about 300 to 1,000 words already written, he said.

“It has to wait until I’m done with my dissertation,” he said about finishing his fantasy novel.