Salmonberry Faculty

“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                                                       

Paul is Salmonberry’s Head of School and has taught at Salmonberry since its inception. He is the parent of two adult children, Quinn and Emma. Paul started his teaching career 28 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 peer-review scholarly journal. He is a well-respected speaker and has delivered dozens of talks and workshops at conferences internationally. He currently serves as graduate faculty at Antioch University and TIES (The Institute for Educational Studies) where he leads the Integrative Learning MEd program. Paul has served as President of the Graduate Institute for Transformative Learning. He has served as Trustee on several independent school boards. He is also the current and founding Director of the Holistic Education Initiative and the Coordinating Editor of The Holistic Education Review. He lives near White Beach with his wife Andria, dog Murray and assorted chickens, goats and a pony.


Kari Van Gelder

Eagles Lead Teacher

Kari is the lead teacher in the Eagles class. Since 2010, she has progressed from being a Salmonberry parent, classroom volunteer, and substitute teacher; to the roles of assistant, specialist, and co-lead teacher; and is now the Eagles lead classroom teacher. Soon to be certificated, Kari is considering pursuing a Masters in Education. Holistic education, as practiced at Salmonberry, has inspired Kari to dedicate herself to teaching. 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. In addition to teaching at Salmonberry, Kari is a crafter who co-owns Bossy’s Feltworks with Amy Lum and Mandy Troxel. Kari came to Orcas for the summer in 1994 to live at Camp Indralaya. She fell in love with the island and her late husband Ian, and stayed. Kari’s adult daughter Margot recently moved to New York City. Kari lives at Opal Commons, OPAL CLT’s first neighborhood, with her partner Shannon, a menagerie of rescued pets, a beloved garden and an ongoing RV project.


Angela Baker

Cedars Lead Teacher                                                                                          

Angela is the lead teacher in the Cedars class. She recently joined the Salmonberry School community in August of 2021 when she moved to Orcas Island from Madison, Wisconsin. In Madison, Angela taught for 17 years at Wingra School, an independent progressive school quite similar to Salmonberry. Prior to that, she graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire in 2003 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education and a minor in English. Angela enjoys teaching and learning alongside her students. Together with them she forms and nurtures authentic relationships to build a warm and trusting community in which everyone’s voice is necessary, making mistakes is encouraged, learning is relevant, laughter is frequent, and childhood is respected. In addition to teaching, Angela enjoys time spent in nature, getting lost in a good book, doing some one-on-one tutoring, and playing with her adorable rescue cat named Peanut. 


Paul Brahce

Otters Lead Teacher                                                                    

Paul is happy to be back at Salmonberry School after a year away in Madison, Wisconsin. He returned in time to offer two summer camps and is looking forward to being in the Otters classroom for the 2021-22 school year. Paul’s interest in education started in high school when he was part of a student/teacher study group that developed and launched an alternative high school in Ann Arbor, Michigan. This experience convinced Paul of the value of holistic, student-driven education and inspired him to become a teacher. He spent sixteen years teaching early childhood and primary level before moving into school administration for several years. In 2016, Paul returned to classroom teaching in a Reggio Emilia inspired school in Madison. Following that he enjoyed two years of teaching in Salmonberry’s Salmon classroom. Paul has two daughters living in the Pacific Northwest, one on Orcas Island. He is an avid walker and naturalist, always eager to learn about something new in the natural world. Other interests include folk music, writing, and Scandinavian mid-century design.



Emmy Gran

Salmon Lead Teacher                                                                                          

Emmy is the lead teacher in the Salmon class. She joined the Salmonberry community in 2013 as a teaching assistant and since has filled many roles, including art teacher, student teacher, and garden specialist. This is her third year as the lead teacher in the mixed-age kindergarten program. She received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Washington and a Master of Education from Goddard College. In addition to teaching, Emmy runs a cut flower farm and floral design business called Fabled Flora. Nurturing happy children and happy plants is her calling!


Adrien Erickson

Salmon assistant teacher

Adrien Erickson is a born and raised Orcas Islander. Leaving home for a bit to explore an education in Communications, she eventually wandered back to the Orcas community and relearned what home is. Adrien fondly thinks of herself as a woman of many talents — from painter to crafter and knitting aficionado as well as a violinist, who was first chair for her entire school experience and participated in the local orchestra through middle and high school.  Adrien fell into child education, which eventually led her to Salmonberry School. She became the assistant teacher in the Cedars classroom at Salmonberry in 2018 then eventually gravitated towards the Salmon classroom as its assistant teacher. This will be her forth and most exciting year at Salmonberry.


Aliza Diepenbrock

Otters Assistant Teacher        

Aliza Diepenbrock was born and raised on Morning Star Farm here on Orcas. After graduating college during a time of global crisis, she chose to step back into her homeland community. Growing up, she loved horseback riding, aerial acrobatics, reading, writing, berry picking, and distracting farm interns with questions. These loves continue to shape who she is. Her days often include harvesting at dawn, nestling outside reading and writing or walking her beloved trails of Orcas. At Whitman College, Aliza studied Rhetoric, Writing, and Public Discourse and deepened her love of story with a Creative Writing minor. Aliza has always loved working with kids, from babysitting, to facilitating a girls fifth-grade empowerment curriculum in Walla Walla, to working at the Funhouse on Orcas. She is consistently inspired by young people’s creativity and unabashed truth-telling. She is thrilled to have the opportunity as Classroom Assistant for the Otters Class to foster a safe, caring community, to celebrate literature, and immerse in the heart of curiosity, intellect, adventure and love that is a first grader.




Alyssa Burnett

Cedars Assistant Teacher    

Alyssa graduated from UW-Milwaukee with her Elementary Education degree in 2013 and has had the gift of witnessing and participating in many different school communities over the years through her work as a substitute teacher in both Portland and Seattle Public Schools. She also works with a non-profit called Turning The Wheel where she has happily had the opportunity to travel and work at school districts across the country spreading play and creative embodiment. She is currently in graduate school studying Counseling Psychology and Body Psychotherapy and looks forward to merging her passions for both children and therapeutic work. She is deeply committed to making sure every child is seen, known, and loved. She recently made the move to Orcas, where her heart has been calling her for years. You can probably find her walking around Mountain Lake, her favorite spot on the island.



Lauren Ford Johnson

Eagles Assistant Teacher                                                                                                    

Lauren is the assistant teacher in the Eagles Classroom. She is originally from San Juan Island, but made the short journey over to Orcas Island in 2015. She recently graduated from Western Washington University with a Bachelors of Arts and Education and a certification to teach K-8th grade. Lauren is passionate about creating a strong classroom culture where students feel safe to explore their interests. She believes that learning should be student driven and that content should be delivered with lots of movement and play- no matter how old the students are. Lauren has a particular passion for social studies and is also an orca enthusiast who spends much of her free time looking up random whale facts. When Lauren is not in the classroom she can be found hiking with her partner, swimming in Mountain Lake, visiting her horse, or taking photos of her adventures.


Hayley Shannon

Dance Specialist                                                                                                    

A Michigan native, Hayley comes to Orcas Island by way of Seattle after earning a degree in dance at Michigan State University. Frustrated by the disparity of access to dance as well as society’s notion of what a “dancer” is, Hayley worked to expand the notion of dance to its original form of embodied expression that brings healing and joy to every being. Hayley has lead workshops nationally and internationally, collaborating with non-profits, studios, schools, shelters, festivals, retreats, conferences and more. She believes healing arts will support the collective deepening of roots, re-sourcing bodies to embody the resiliency to blossom with the strength and interconnectedness all people crave. The lesson she continue to find is: show up. Our bodies will guide us back to the wisdom within.


Laura Black

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.  When motherhood prompted a shift in roles she accepted the position as Salmonberry’s Program Administrator for the school, acting as enrollment coordinator and head of summer programs, 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. In her free time, Laura enjoys running the roads and trails around Orcas and plying the waters of the island’s lakes and surrounding Salish Sea with her young daughter.  


Board of Trustees

Tina Whitman, Board Chair

Joel Watson, Vice Chair

Paul Freedman, Ex Officio

Jen Edington, Treasurer

Miramonee Harrington, Secretary

Mindy Sonshine, Trustee

Louis Prussack, Trustee

Jessica Fleming, Trustee

Maeanna Whitridge, Trustee

Sarah Dews, Trustee