Small School: HUGE Staff
MEET THE VILLAGE….The opportunity to teach and work at a school like Holden draws gifted, creative, dedicated, and highly skilled teachers and staff. Without exception, they are lifelong learners who lead rich and fulfilling lives and serve as powerful role models for the students at Holden.
Four Co-Directors collectively run the day-to-day operations of Holden. Each Co-Director also teaches, directly connecting Holden’s administration to the learning environment and enabling the school to work in a way that best meets students needs. All staff meet with the entire student body during weekly Community Meeting. The Co-Directors regularly consult with our core teachers, counseling interns, psychological consultants, student council, parent advisory board, board of trustees, and student body about issues affecting the school community to ensure that the school is achieving its mission.
Kate graduated from San Francisco State University with a self-designed BA in English with a focus on education. In addition to teaching academic and elective classes and tutoring, Kate supervises the academic teachers and is the CFO of Holden. She is also a certified personal trainer. Actively involved in the punk scene since 1979, Kate is a founding member of B.O.B., a collective that organizes international punk rock concerts. Kate has been at Holden in various capacities since 1987.
Kristin graduated from Hamilton College with a BA in Studio Arts and Sociology. She received her MA in Counseling Psychology from California Institute of Integral Studies in 1997 and became a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in 2001. Kristin is Holden’s Director of Admissions and co-heads Holden’s Outdoor Adventure Program. She has been a Co-Director since 2000. Outside Holden, she spends time with her family.
Abby graduated from Holden High School in 1993 and has a BA in Humanities with an emphasis in Education from New College of California. She has an MA in Special Education from San Francisco State University and a Mild to Moderate Education Specialist Credential. She directs Holden’s Learning Support Program and is a member of the Council for Exceptional Children. Outside of Holden, Abby enjoys nature, yoga, dance, and spending time with her friends and family.
Jennifer Polse Payne
Jennifer graduated with a BA in Psychology and a MA in Counseling Psychology from Humboldt State University. She is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, with a private practice in Berkeley. She is one of the Clinical Co-Directors at Holden and supervises and trains the counselors. She has been at Holden since 2004.
Core Teachers & Transition Counselors
Core teachers, as well as directors, teach academics and electives at Holden. All of our teachers strive to meet the diverse needs of our students with patience, experience, knowledge, compassion, and flexibility. They are trained to work with a variety of learning styles and emotional blocks to learning. All staff collaborate to create coursework and structure that fully engage students in the process of learning and self-discovery. In addition, teachers also collaborate with credentialed learning specialists and licensed psychotherapists. Our transition counselors help students make important connections and support them in finding summer jobs, internships, volunteer work, and in applying to two- and four-year colleges, gap year, and vocational programs. Click here to read more about our transition program.
Rikki R. Edelman
Rikki teaches US Government, Biology, and electives. Rikki is also one of Holden's Transition Counselors, helping students envision and prepare for life after high school through internships and jobs. She has a BA in English Language Arts and Anthropology, a Teaching Credential in Secondary English, and an MA in Education all from University of California at Berkeley. She also holds a certificate in Horticulture from Merritt College and has done continuing education in Permaculture and Green Building. Her outside interests include parenting, writing prose and poetry, folklore, gardening, environmental sustainability, health food, and social justice. She is a member of the Mycological Society of San Francisco and the Bay Area Writing Project. She is a parent and step-parent of children of different ages and abilities.
Katherine teaches math, chemistry, history, and a number of rotating classes for Holden. She also acts as Holden’s college transition counselor and runs the Holden chapter of Girls Who Code. She holds a bachelor’s from University of Michigan and a master’s from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and has been teaching students at the high school and undergraduate level for over 10 years. She has extensive experience teaching and developing standardized tests. In addition to teaching, she has sung professionally and is a published writer and reviewer. She lives in the Canyonlands with her husband Peter.
Ally teaches English Composition, World Studies, Journalism / Yearbook, and a class titled Identity and Diversity in Comics. She holds a BA in English Literature from the University of Connecticut, with a concentration in Cross Cultural and Ethnic Studies. Her outside interests include comics, video games, reading, and her dog. She is a member of the AmeriCorps Alumni Association and the City Year Alumni Association.
Swecha teaches Physics, Pre-Calculus with Trigonometry, Computer Science, Math Lab, and Hoops (basketball) at Holden. She holds a BS in Math and Physics from Cal State University East Bay. Her outside interests include dancing, traveling, current events, and fiction. She is a member of the American Physical Society and has participated in conferences for Undergraduate Women in Physics. Her teaching style is lab oriented and hands on.
Resource, Exploration, and Support Counselors
Skilled counselors volunteer their time and energy at Holden. Our Resource, Exploration, and Support (RES) counselors are enrolled in or have graduated from accredited Masters’ programs in clinical psychology and are furthering their training under supervision by licensed psychotherapists. Click here to read more about the Resource, Exploration, and Support Program.
Shawn is a Marriage and Family Therapist Intern at Holden. He received his BS in Psychology from St. Mary's College of California with a minor in English, his MA in Literature from the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, and his MA in Counseling Psychology from John F. Kennedy University. His outside interests include music, tennis, and writing.
Candice is a Marriage and Family Therapist Intern at Holden, teaching Music Appreciation at the school. She holds a BA in Psychology from San Francisco State University and a MA in Counseling Psychology from The Wright Institute in Berkeley, CA. She loves hanging out with her family and friends, traveling, working out, and exploring places to eat.
Liz is a Marriage and Family Therapist Intern at Holden. She received her BA in English Literature from San Francisco State University and her MA in Counseling Psychology from John F. Kennedy University. She loves yoga, making art, listening to music, and getting outdoors.
Haley Hewitt is a Marriage and Family Therapist Intern at Holden. She received her BA in Film and Television Production with a minor in Theatre Arts from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. She holds an MA in Counseling Psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco. Haley is a 200-hour Registered Yoga Teacher and enjoys Yin, Kundalini, Vinyasa, and Restorative styles of Yoga when practicing in her own time. She is fascinated by the resiliency and healing potential within each human spirit, drawing inspiration from nature, meditation, as well as expressive arts like dance, live music, theatre, spoken word, dreamwork, and yoga.
Cameron is a Marriage and Family Therapist Trainee at Holden. He holds a BS in Sociology from Western Washington University and a MA in Media and Communications from The European Graduate School. He is currently earning his MS in Counseling from California State University, East Bay. He has worked and volunteered with several progressive organizations, including Big Brothers Big Sisters, Oakland Head Start, and a Men Against Violence group. He's interested in helping Holden students build lives for themselves which they find meaningful and exciting. He is an avid reader, amateur chef, and forever a student of life.
Leah is a Marriage and Family Therapist Trainee at Holden. They hold a BA in Psychology from Scripps College. Leah is currently enrolled in the Somatic Psychotherapy Masters program at the California Institute of Integral Studies. Leah loves being outside and you can often find them at a small urban farm in Berkeley hanging out with the goats. Leah is especially passionate about supporting queer, trans, and gender creative youth.
Our administrative staff are essential to keeping our program running smoothly.
Mawiyah is Holden's Marketing and Fundraising Manager. She holds a BA in Mass Communication from Cal State East Bay. Her interests include hiking, hip-hop and belly dance, portrait photography, spending time with her kids, and pretending to be a mad scientist by making her own all natural beauty concoctions. She is a member of H.E.A.T. (Hiking Every Available Trail) and 510 Hikers.
Muhammad N. Ramadan
Muhammad joined Holden as our Office Administrator in January 2015. Prior to Holden Muhammad worked in post-secondary education for over a decade. His experience with operations and administration in an educational setting helps contribute to the overall success of our community at Holden. Muhammad was born and raised near Washington DC and spent his formative years in suburban Chicago. He graduated from Columbia College Chicago with a degree in Marketing Communications and Public Relations. After college Muhammad worked for a boutique PR firm located in downtown Chicago. Tired of the infamous Chicago winters (and hot humid summers), he relocated to the Bay Area in 2003. Muhammad has many interests outside of Holden. He enjoys cultural experiences, art, music, cooking, dining out, automobiles, architecture, nature, and most of all design. His love for design morphed into an impromptu education as he earned his second degree in Interior Design. Muhammad also loves to travel. He’d love to travel more internationally so he can absorb other cultures. His short-term goal is to revisit his ancestral land of Palestine. He spent a summer there when he was 12 years old and hopes to travel there again as an adult sometime soon. In the meantime weekend road trips in his Miata quench his thirst for travel and adventure.
One of the strengths of our program includes elective courses offered by our part time staff, who are occasionally Holden alumni.
Harry is a Holden graduate. Harry teaches a creative writing course called METAPHOR MASHING and a guitar class called THE FIRST TIME I MET THE BLUES. He works as a musician, backing several blues artists in the bay area. Additionally, he works building and repairing guitars. He currently holds an AA degree in creative writing and is continuing his education studying music and sound engineering.
Ryan teaches Intro to Music with Leslie. He started playing piano at age 10 and took up brass and percussion instruments in his junior high and high school band programs. He studied music at Occidental College and San Francisco State University, earning his MA Degree in 2005. He has been performing for nearly 20 years, with such Jazz greats as, Tom Scott and Mic Gillette. Ryan is versed performing solo concerts and directing church music ensembles, as well as conducting concert bands, orchestras, and jazz bands.
Samantha is a Holden alumna, returning to her roots teach Theater Games and to substitute for Mathematics. She is currently studying Theater and Computer Science at Mills College in Oakland, and takes classes at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco. In the past two years, she has acted in three productions. Her most recent performance was for her senior thesis showcase, where she co-starred in and co-produced the absurdist play, Happy Days by Samuel Beckett. She has a passion for acting, painting, and computer programming, and loves to learn about and care for animals.
Ann teaches Social Relations at Holden. She graduated from Tufts University with a BA in Economics and received her MHS in Family Planning and Reproductive Health from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Ann also teaches Our Whole Lives sexuality education at the Mt. Diablo Unitarian Universalist Church and facilitates youth programs at the Orinda Community Church. Ann enjoys gardening and time with her family and dogs.
“The staff is supportive, understanding, and dedicated. A great sense of community and acceptance is felt between staff, students, and families.” -Parent of Holden Graduate