New principal steps up to help hometown Catholic school


By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger


WASHINGTON — When public school teacher Erik Buchholz heard that St. James Catholic School’s newly hired principal had resigned mid-summer, he wondered if he might be in a position to help.

Buchholz had more than a decade of experience as a principal in the Washington Community School District but shifted from administration to teaching in 2021. After talking to a St. James school board member, “I prayed and asked for guidance about what I should and could do.”

He decided to apply. As he met with the Diocese of Davenport’s superintendent of schools and the St. James school board, “I felt a sense of reassurance that this is where I was meant to be.”


During his time in the public school district, Buchholz observed how “well prepared” St. James graduates were — from both an academic and a behavior standpoint — as they moved on to Washington Middle School. St. James “has a high standard placed on students learning the necessary academics along with Christian values,” he said.

Buchholz will spend his first few months as principal addressing current issues while getting a feel for the school “so that I can make more informed decisions of matters that need improvement.” As an active Presbyterian, he will also be learning about Catholicism and how it provides a foundation for the school. “I am very interested in learning the Catholic practices right along with the children,” he said.

He feels connected to the St. James community through the shared aspects of their Christian faith and looks forward to being able to express “this large piece of my life” openly in a school setting. “I have always had my faith in Jesus,” he said. “I truly believe he was born of the Virgin Mary, walked among us to teach the truth of how we should live, was crucified and rose from the dead for the forgiveness of our sins and will someday come again when we shall all be judged.”

A Washington native, Buchholz earned an education degree from Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa in 1987 and a master’s degree in education administration from the University of Iowa in Iowa City in 2002. He and his wife, Christy, have two adult daughters.

Buchholz appreciates the school’s welcoming atmosphere. “I have never met a more caring group of people. Staff have been in nearly all summer getting the building, their rooms and I ready for the upcoming year.” He can’t wait to meet and greet the students later this month.

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