Where are they now: Dave Holley
Profession: yoga instructor - Location: Kirkwood, MO and Denver, CO - Class of 1967
Every Thursday during homeroom, students gather to escape the stressful atmosphere of school and relax by doing yoga. Dr. Dave Holley, former KHS principal, leads these classes in hopes to provide a place for students to relieve the pressure of school.
Since graduating from KHS in 1967 to climbing the ranks to become KHS principal until retirement, Holley left quite an impression on KSD. But he didn’t stop there. Holley said he loves working with kids and continued to volunteer in schools and teaches yoga classes throughout KSD.
“There’s a lot of people up at KHS that are my friends, so I miss that,” Holley said. “I loved it, but I thought that I had my turn and it was time for somebody else to take a turn [as principal].”
After graduating from college, Holley taught history and coached football at Richardson Junior High School in Texas. But he soon returned to St. Louis to teach at Parkway South High School. After two years, Holley took a position as a history teacher at KHS. He later served as head principal of NKMS from 1995-2001 and then moved to KHS principal.
“His leadership style was that he let his coaches coach, he let his teachers do their job. He hired really good people and about 70 of our current teachers were hired by him,” Michael Wade, associate principal, said. “He let them teach. He cut them loose and said ‘go get ‘em’.”
For 10 years, Holley was the KHS principal, before retiring in 2011. Dr. Michael Havener, current principal, describes Holley as kid-centered, energetic, fun and loving, and someone who wanted students to work hard but have fun as well.
After retirement, Holley worked for an organization called Urban Future where he tutored in St. Louis city public schools. Urban Future was an after-school program that focused on helping tutor students in the inner city.
“[Holley] has over 30 years experience in education,” Havener said. “If I was a part of any of the organizations [he volunteered for] I would seek out people like Dr. Holley who are very successful and try to tap into that knowledge and experience he has.”
Then Holley joined a non-profit organization called Spring Board, a St. Louis organization that brings art programs to underfunded schools. Holley said his position focused on helping students in Ritenour and St. Louis City write plays that would later be sent to Webster University to be potentially made into a show. Holley volunteered for this organization up until last year.
“We take [our art programs] for granted,” Holley said. “[When] these schools that are underfunded don’t have access to their art programs, they get booted out. So what Spring Board does is they work on bringing programs to these kids. Schools get their funding from their test results so these are often the first classes to go.”
While Holley and his wife, Lisa, spend most of their time in Kirkwood, they often travel to their other house in Colorado throughout the year. Holley said his two kids live in Colorado and California, so they wanted a place that is easy for both of them to visit. According to Holley, he stays involved in the Kirkwood community just enough so that he can still work with kids, but he doesn’t want to have too much control over KSD because he has already had that as a principal.
“My wife and I decided that if we ever wanted to see our kids, we would have to go some place that they would come visit us,” Holley said. “They love being [in Colorado]. I love being there and my wife loves being there, so we spend a lot of time there.”
Holley was certified to be a yoga instructor in the spring of 2015. He currently teaches five yoga classes a week in KSD including classes at KHS and both middle schools.
“What I saw [at KHS] is kids didn’t have time to be kids,” Holley said. “So the reason I started doing this yoga and the reason I came back to Kirkwood is to try to help kids have a place where they can come for 35-40 minutes every week and give them a chance to relax their body, relax their brain, move a little, stretch a little and take some of the pressure off.”