January 2021

Krista Holtz

January Teacher of the Month

Westlake Elementary

Krista Holt is pictured below with her puppets, Puppy and Snail, who are important “friends” in our class and help us with our Social Emotional & Growth Mindset lessons each week. “We end every class meeting with the class poem, ‘Let love shine through in all you do,’ says Holt.

I wanted to nominate Krista Holt, who teaches my daughter kindergarten at Westlake. In addition to having great communication and organization, she manages to create empathy and community with the students. She has connected with my daughter in a way I didn’t think possible over a virtual schooling platform.
She goes above and beyond by being available for her students. When my daughter couldn’t find her dice for a math game, after class, Ms. Krista rode her bike to our house and dropped one off in our mailbox. When my daughter’s whiteboard marker ran out, another one was hand delivered to our door after class. It would have been easy for her to ask us to get these materials ourselves or wait for the next materials pick up day (which we would have done either), but she didn’t.

But the day that confirmed that Ms. Krista is just a special human is the day that we unexpectedly had to take my daughter for some lab work. My daughter is terrified of needles, and even though we discussed and prepared as a family, she was still uncertain and asked to talk to Ms. Krista.

I emailed Ms. Krista that day and she set up a zoom with my daughter right away that afternoon before her test. She related to her, talked about calming breathing techniques and ways to handle her fears.
While Ms. Krista is an amazing teacher (my daughter is reading her sight words!), she was there emotionally for my daughter which is paramount during these crazy times.

Some words from Krista:
I started teaching in 1991 in Los Gatos at Lexington School where I taught for 13 years. Kindergarten was the best fit for me and it more or less chose me– it was the job I was offered and I fell in love with it. I love kindergarten for so many reasons — the magic of the young learner and their belief in themselves before life starts giving mixed messages about our worthiness or abilities. I love singing with and to the students–it always calms them right down.

I love their joy of learning and their genuine emotions, quick to feel big feelings and just as quick to say “let’s be friends again!” I adore the 5-6 year old openness to the world and their willingness to try new things.

Distance learning has been a wild ride but each day I just show up with a caring heart, ready to make everyone feel special and loved and safe. We have talked a lot in our class meetings about managing our feelings and how to get centered and calm with breathing practices. I am in awe of how well it has gone and for our class. The parents have been incredible with their support, patience, and resilience.

Distance learning for our youngest students relies so heavily on the parents and adults at home. One of my favorite practices has been riding my bike to my students’ homes in the Spring and this Fall to do read alouds in the driveway. These face-to-face connections have made our time on Zoom even stronger. I also ride my bike to homes when they need a new white board marker or dice or extra paper.
I grew up in Mill Valley, California and moved to Santa Cruz in 1986 to attend UCSC. I decided to be a teacher when I was a young girl. I loved “teaching” my fellow classmates how to make cookies or do a favorite art activity. My teachers were great about inviting me to contribute what I was interested in sharing.

I also come from a long line of teachers–my mother, my aunt, my sister, as well as my maternal and paternal grandparents were all teachers. Perhaps it is in my DNA. (I took a number of years off from teaching when my children were little so overall I have been teaching 19 years now.)

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