“Good teaching cannot be reduced to technique; good teaching comes from the identity and integrity of the teacher.”                      –Parker Palmer


Paul Freedman, Head of School, Intermediate grades teacher 

Paul 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, Primary grades teacher 

Linda 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.


Emmy Gran, Kindergarten teacher

Emmy has been a teaching assistant and specialist instructor at Salmonberry since 2013. For the 2017-18 school year, she will shift roles and join us as a Lead Teacher in the multi-age kindergarten. She has an B.A. in Art History and Comparative History of Ideas from the University of Washington and an M.A. in Education from Goddard College. During her five years at Salmonberry, Emmy has created and implemented numerous beautiful examples of project-based learning including an school garden re-design project and an oral history project that included partnering with the Orcas Island Senior Center. Emmy was also a co-founder, teacher and organizer of the Knowledge Commons, a free school in Washington DC. She dedicated to educating for                                                                                              sustainability, stewardship, community and social justice.  


Kari Van Gelder, Intermediate grades teacher

 Kari has been deeply involved at Salmonberry since enrolling her daughter here in 2010. She officially joined the Salmonberry staff in the fall of 2015. She comes to teaching via a path less travelled, with a wealth of prior experience found through tutoring, homeschooling, classroom volunteering, independent study and keen observation. She is delighted to teach the intermediate grades class with Paul Freedman. In addition to sharing language arts and math with Paul, Kari carries both the science and art programs. Kari radiates a deep love for children and calls upon her own capacity for connection to draw the children towards their own self-discovery in academics, community and citizenship. 


Kelley Diamond, Kindergarten assistant teacher

Kelley is excited to rejoin the Salmonberry staff after 4 years at home raising her own children. She has lived on Orcas since 2010 when she came to work in the elementary program. Originally from Baltimore, Maryland, Kelley studied education and sociology and has worked with children as long as she can remember. She loves nature, music, arts and crafts and outdoor adventures. She enjoys being a teacher and student alongside her young friends at school as there is always more to learn. She is ready to help shape the kindergarten program with a new level of insight and experience as a mother of a two young children.


Alexandria Romero, Primary grades assistant teacher, Mindfulness teacher

Alexandria has a Master’s Degree in Transpersonal Psychology (a mind, body, spirit approach to healing), and is a mindfulness teacher and Holistic Counselor. She is a widowed mom to two daughters, ages 4 and 6. She is the author of a children’s book on grief called, “Where Is My Daddy?” She specializes in the work of grieving and healing, self-esteem and empowerment of women and teenage girls, and the cultivation of mindfulness in everyday life. She loves yoga, dancing, singing, nature, and writing.


Colleen Stewart, Kindergarten Art teacher

Colleen found her way to Salmonberry in 2017 through teaching summer camp and returned in the school year as Kindergarten art specialist. She also explores art with elementary and middle school classes through Art for Orcas Kids and with a mixed-age homeschool class. Colleen keeps the garden for Farm to Classroom in the public school and is on the board of San Juan County Arts Council. Inspired by the patient wild art forms seen in nature, she hopes to allow students (and herself) to find authentic forms of expression and connection, to create culture, to know everyone as an artist, and to embrace art as lifelong nourishment.


Laura Black, Elementary Spanish teacher, Programs Administrator

Laura joined the Salmonberry staff in 2013 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 acts as Program Administrator for the school, helping with student enrollment and accounts, among other critical tasks.  With a Master’s in Library Science, Laura previously worked as a middle school librarian in New Mexico where she was a certificated teacher and school librarian for almost a decade.


Tom Rawson, Elementary Music teacher

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.