Westridge Says Goodbye to Dr. Jim Holland


Dr. Jim Holland

After thirteen years at Westridge and a diverse career spanning English teacher, college counselor, academic dean, and assistant head of school at Chadwick School in Palos Verdes and researcher and lecturer at Harvard, Dr. Jim Holland is retiring.


Since coming to Westridge in 2007, Holland has taught all Upper School English classes, eleventh-grade Human Development, worked with Peer-to-Peer, and, most recently, headed-up the Westridge Research Initiative. Recognized for his kindness and approachability as well as wisdom, he has left great impacts on students and teachers alike. 


Dr. Lisa Carruthers, Westridge’s Director of Counseling and Student Support, described Holland’s career as “diverse, impactful, and invitational,” and explained, “He’s such an invitational and relational man. I think he’s just incredible in that way. Students felt cared for by his relationality – they can be authentic with him.” 


Zora S. ’20 recalled, “When I mentioned in class that I was having struggles with my Common App Personal Essay and the emotions tied to that essay and the College Process, he offered to read it and help me with it, and I met with him multiple times about it, giving him many drafts which he really didn’t have to do in his semi-retirement, but did with such care and detail. I received my most helpful feedback from Dr. Holland on this essay, as rather than trying to change my narrative or outlook, he helped shape it into a way that was the most true to myself. This meant so much to me as I so often felt I had to change and shift to fit the persona colleges wanted, but Dr. Holland assured me that I should say my truth and the best way to approach life is with honesty and vulnerability.” 


“It has been the rare privilege of my teaching career to get to know Jim Holland and work so closely with him,” said Upper School English teacher Katie Wei. “I will miss his calming presence on campus and his decidedly student-centered approach to everything. He has been a great friend to me and a powerful educator in the history of great Westridge teachers.” 

With a background in co-ed education, Dr. Holland continues to be amazed by the warmth of the Westridge community, which he believes is “truly a place where relationships are at the heart of the learning.” 

He cherishes the many close connections he has developed over the years and hopes students will continue to remember him as “caring and respectful, and able to create a space where students can explore challenging ideas, learn about themselves, and express their thoughts and feelings with authenticity and an appreciation of the power of language to build connections and community.” 

After leaving Westridge, Holland looks forward to traveling to New Zealand and the Galapagos and enjoying more of his favorite activities: reading, skiing, hiking, and crossword puzzles. 

When asked what the perfect retirement gift for Dr. Holland would be – minus the constraints of time, money, scheduling, and distance – Dr. Carruthers said, “The gift I think Dr. Holland would most enjoy would be to have the people he has forged relationships with over his life all together in one place for a time. He has relationships with people all over the world – colleagues, students, friends, family members – and to have the opportunity to enjoy those relationships would be a gift he would treasure.” 

Though we may be unable to fulfill this particular wish, Westridge wishes the best of luck to Dr. Holland, a well-loved, long-time member of our community.