Salmonberry’s Faculty


Paul Freedman is the lead elementary teacher in the intermediate grades and Salmonberry’s program director.  He has taught at Salmonberry since its inception.  Paul started his career 24 years ago in public elementary schools in California and Oregon.  He began his journey towards holistic education after moving to Orcas Island in 2001.  Paul is a nationally recognized advocate and passionate proponent of educational alternatives.  He is a widely published author in the field of education and has served as a contributing editor of Encounter: Education for Meaning and Social Justice, the country’s leading holistic education journal. He has delivered dozens of talks and workshops at conferences internationally.  He currently serves on the faculty of the Self Design Graduate Institute, on the Board of the Summa Institute and is a co-Director of The Holistic Education Initiative.

Linda Henning is the lead teacher in the elementary program’s primary grades classroom. Linda has many years experience teaching preschool and primary grades in progressive schools in the Skagit/Snohomish area.  She was a founding teacher at both Summit Academy and the Stillwater School as well as a lead teacher at the Burlington little School.   She writes, “Teaching to the whole child takes a commitment each day to discover the many ways to meet the unique needs of each child. Teaching to the whole child requires stepping outside of the box and embracing the unconventional to find ways in which a child can shine and be the best he/she can be and to achieve all that is possible.

Linda Ellswoth is Salmonberry’s lead early childhood teacher. She has 25 years of teaching experience and is a dedicated advocate of child-centered education. She came to Sal­mon­berry in 2009 from the Phinny Ridge Co-op School in Seat­tle where she taught for 16 years.  She is a mem­ber of the North American Reg­gio Emilia Alliance.  Linda has a pas­sion for peace edu­ca­tion and bring­ing tolerance into the class­room.




Kari Van Gelder has been deeply involved at Salmonberry since her daughter enrolled at the school in 2010.  She officially joined the Salmonberry staff as the intermediate grades classroom assistant in the fall of 2015. She brings a wealth of experience from both public and private school settings.  Kari radiates a deep love for children as well as a sincere commitment to inspire kids towards academic excellence.  She also adds her energy as Salmonberry’s Science Specialist, where she emphasizes keen observation skills and experiential learning.


Andrea Lavezzi joined Salmonberry in 2016 and is currently the assistant teacher in the elementary program’s primary classroom. She has taught on Salt Spring Island, BC in grades K-12.  Andrea has also taught Art and English in grades 9-12 at Las Plumas Highschool in Oroville, CA.  She currently holds a WA State K-8 Teaching License.  Andrea is a dedicated mom, educator and advocate for children’s holistic learning.




Jessie Gonzales is the assistant teacher in Salmonberry’s early childhood classroom, having joined us in 2016.  She has taught at several other schools on Orcas Island as well as the Orcas Island Funhouse.  Jessie has an infectious enthusiasm and a wonderful gift for connecting with children and seeing the world through their eyes.  She is known and loved by many island families.


  Emmy Gran Emmy has been a teaching assistant and specialist instructor at Salmonberry since 2013.  For the 2016-17 school year, she will shift roles and join us as a Student Teacher as she completes her graduate program in Teacher Licensure and receives her MA in Education from Goddard College.  Emmy has created and implemented numerous beautiful examples of project-based learning at Salmonberry including an incredible School Garden-Re-Design project and a breathtaking Oral History project that included partnering with the Orcas Island Senior Center.  Emmy is also a co-founder, teacher and organizer of the Knowledge Commons, a Free School in Washington DC.  She has a passion for organic food production and educating for sustainability, stewardship, community and social justice.


Tom Rawson Tom was Salmonberry’s Primary Grades Teacher for two years before “retiring” into his current role as Salmonberry’s Music Teacher.  Tom brings more than twenty years of lead teaching experience at the primary grades in both alternative Seattle public schools as well as the progressive independent Little School in Belleveue, WA, where he also created a ukulele-based school-wide music program.  Tom is a master folk singer, song writer, recording artist and storyteller.  He continues to travel the world sharing his humor as well as his musicianship.


Laura Black Laura joined the Salmonberry staff in 2012 as a classroom assistant for the intermediate grades as well as the school’s Spanish Language Teacher.  Motherhood has prompted a shift in roles.  She continues to serve as our beloved Spanish Teacher and now also takes on administrative assistant duties, helping with student enrollment and accounts, among other critical tasks.  Laura has also worked at public schools in Las Cruces, New Mexico where she was a certificated teacher and school librarian for almost a decade.