BENTON HARBOR — Benton Harbor school board trustees on Tuesday unanimously hired a Benton Harbor High School principal – Reedell Holmes of Muskegon Heights.

Holmes, a turn-around specialist originally from Mississippi, said he’s been checking out the high school the past few days and expects to start today.

“Every school I worked in were failing schools,” he told trustees during their work session.

And he said he was able to improve achievement at all of them.

“Being trained as a turn-around specialist, I found out that when you look into the minds of young people, all of them are very, very capable of learning,” he said after the meeting. “I believe that if you set the atmosphere and make sure your environment has a learning environment, that helps children want to learn more and makes them capable of being successful.”

He said having strong teachers who know how to keep students engaged in the process of learning is critical.

Holmes said he and his wife, Rosie, left Mississippi in 2000 to pursue educational jobs in Muskegon Heights, where he was hired as the middle school’s assistant principal. He became the school’s principal the next year when that position opened up.

His most recent position was as a floating principal for Grand Rapids Public Schools, where he helped younger principals be successful.

He said the key is having a team approach, which includes engaging parents, to successfully turn around a school.

Trustees will hold their regular meeting at 6 p.m. Nov. 12 in the high school’s library, where they will hear a presentation on the district’s latest audit.