Jolly farewell

Christopher High School Principal Patricia Jolly will be retiring at the end of the school year after 38 years in education. Jolly has been with the Gilroy Unified School District for the past five years, four of which were spent as the CHS assistant prin

When the school year ends, Christopher High School Principal Patricia Jolly will be filing out with the students as she retires from her position.
The Gilroy Unified School District hasn’t yet selected a replacement, and the position is posted on the education job site,, Jolly said. The new principal will begin July 1.
Jolly, previously assistant principal of curriculum and Instruction at the high school since the summer of 2009, took over the top spot at Gilroy’s roughly $110 million high school at 850 Day Road in June 2013.
Prior to joining the CHS team, Jolly spent eight years as regional coordinator for Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) at Santa Clara County Office of Education. She also banked 16 years at San Jose’s Bellarmine College Prep as an English teacher and community service learning director.
The Gilroy Dispatch caught up with Jolly and asked her to share her thoughts on her year as principal at CHS:
Dispatch: What was the most difficult thing you had to address as a principal?
Jolly: The growth and sheer number of students, staff and parents is most difficult. We opened in 2009 with 660 students and approximately 35 staff. This year, we have almost 1,800 students and 145 staff. Meeting the needs of all constituents in the time they deserve to be addressed is a huge challenge. I pride myself on meeting people personally and answering questions or working issues out together. However, there are so many demands on a principal’s time that one must delegate, and everyone doesn’t get the individual time they deserve.
Dispatch: What was your favorite moment as high school principal?
Jolly: There are favorite moments every day. It’s not the big events; it really is the daily successes. Since I have known this was my last year, it has been a constant realization of a career well-spent. Thirty-eight years ago, I began as a teacher; 14 years ago as administrator and five years ago as a founding member of CHS. Being able to close my career as principal has simply been the best finale I could have imagined.
Dispatch: What do you think will be your most lasting accomplishment as principal?
Jolly: I believe I have accomplished true team leadership and shared school ownership. I would like to be remembered for being focused on increasing academic achievement while also supporting the enjoyment of the whole high school experience. I hope I have been part of establishing a culture of “a family that cares” on this campus. Admittedly, I have enjoyed being called “Mama Kitty” (in reference to serving as the mother of our “cougars”).
Dispatch: What advice would you give to the incoming principal?
Jolly: Embrace team leadership—this is a very talented, loving and giving staff. They know what to do and simply need the support to allow them to do it. Embrace student leadership. These students have made CHS the great place it is. Work and play together for success. Difficult decisions will always be stressful, but half the battle is won when inclusive communication has taken place.
Dispatch: What do you plan to do with all your free time after you retire?
Jolly: I plan to enjoy leisure time. I love to do so many things: traveling, golfing, playing tennis, hiking and especially seeing family and friends. I do love CHS, so I intend to show up every once in awhile to support a game, see a play, listen to a concert or just visit my friends. It’s going to be great!