The popular superintendent finished his last day on the job at the bowling alley.
While many people know Jacob Oliva as the gregarious do-no-wrong superintendent with a bald head and a graying goatee — someone who talks incessantly, makes everyone feel important, and insists on leading Flagler Schools not just to local but to national recognition — some might not realize how obsessed he is with bowling.
After having started as a teaching intern at Flagler Schools in 1998, he ultimately became the Flagler Palm Coast High School principal and started bowling as a high school sport there. He was hired as superintendent in 2014 and attended school-related events seemingly every night, but he still occasionally managed to travel to places like Las Vegas for bowling tournaments. Not long ago, he bowled a 300. He wears professional bowling shoes, the cost of which he is too embarrassed to reveal.
And so, to those who know him well, it might not have been a big surprise to learn that, for his last official duty as superintendent, he chose to go bowling with the Matanzas and FPC high school bowlers May 30, at Palm Coast Lanes.
I showed up to wish him well in his new job with the state Department of Education. In my role at the newspaper, I was able to meet with Oliva regularly in his office to talk about education issues, and I saw in him someone who truly loves his job and never takes himself too seriously. I was impressed with the lack of a desk in his office; he got rid of it one day because he spends so much of his time at the conference table anyway.
I have spoken with many other community leaders about Oliva in the past three years, and I never heard a single one say anything negative about him. Many said the Flagler Schools organization was lucky to have him and said things like, “As long as Oliva is superintendent, the district will be going in the right direction.” He has been an inspiring, charismatic administrator.
But I do have something negative to say about him. I witnessed his first bowl on May 30, and I have it on video: It was a split. He tried on the second bowl of the frame, but he couldn’t knock them both down, and he ended up leaving one pin. I mean, even I could do that.
It wasn’t until later that evening when I learned that Oliva had knocked down every other pin in the game. His second frame was a strike, then a spare, and he concluded with nine strikes in a row, finishing with a score of 259. Just an average day at work for Superintendent Jacob Oliva.
Best of luck, sir. Make Flagler proud.