Executive Director

Kelly Knoche taught math, science and socio-emotional learning (SEL) for six years in public schools in Oakland. She holds a B.A. in psychology from UC Berkeley and also spent time studying at Harvard University.  As a Teach for America corps member, she demonstrated great skill in bringing resources to her students by raising $15,000 for a multi-night field trip and building a joint tutoring program with the UC Berkeley field hockey team. As an innovative curriculum designer, she designed a nationally-recognized middle school project-based SEL program that has continued to be implemented by OUSD middle schools. She is a certified doula, 400-hour yoga teacher and has been trained in both the Mindful Schools and Niroga Institute's Mindfulness programs.

To give to others, you must serve yourself.
— Kelly Knoche

After seeing many of her colleagues leave through her years in Oakland Unified and experiencing the stressors of teaching in an under-resourced school system, she became determined to find simple, low-cost solutions to building teacher resilience.  What started as a donation-based yoga program for educators (Gift of Prana) has transformed into The Teaching Well: a cost-efficient, multi-year series of professional development offerings and 1:1 coaching that is committed to increasing teacher retention, building positive communication among staff and inherently creating school environments where students can achieve. The Teaching Well is proud to have served over 500 educators in a variety of schools since its humble beginnings.  The majority of our work focuses on Title I schools, challenged with staggering rates of teacher turnover.

administrator mentor

Jane Mayer taught English, drama and science for five years in public and charter schools in Los Angeles. She holds a master’s degree from UCLA and a B.A. with honors from the University of Virginia. For the last year, she has acted as the Director of the Los Angeles region for The Teaching Well while she travelled to Peru, India, Thailand and Ireland studying ancient modalities for self- and community-healing.

Jane is an educational visionary who has trained with poet David Whyte and high-level executive coaches through Invitas: The Institute for Conversational Leadership. She is adept in Imago theraputic strategies, Jungian archetypal dream work and Boal/Freirean theatrical storytelling, alongside council work for community building and healing.

An active meditator, yogini and food-as-medicine advocate, Jane is thrilled to support contemporary school leaders in embodiment, reflection and challenging conversations which lead to school-site transformations.

pD developer and facilitator

Air Gallegos began her career working in after-school programs in both San Francisco and San Diego. She transitioned to teaching middle school English and ethnic studies classes at Strive Preparatory Schools when she moved to Denver, Colorado. Air lived in Denver for five years and served as a part of the curriculum design team and as a culturally-responsive teaching lead, where she dedicated her energy to bringing culturally-responsive teaching methods into classrooms. In 2014, she transitioned to Smart High School where she continued teaching literature, creative writing, and spoken word poetry and performance to 9th-11th grade students as well as serving her school as an instructional coach and professional development lead.

Air moved back to California to focus her efforts towards social-emotional learning for students, and sustainability and mindfulness practices for teachers. For the last two years, she has worked serving local bay area schools by providing social emotional curriculum and professional development to educators. Air believes deeply in the power of community, in knowing one’s self, and working collaboratively to make a difference. She currently serves The Teaching Well as a PD Designer/Developer and Facilitator, utilizing her coaching and mentorship skills to provide quality sustainable practices for teachers in northern and southern California.


Sustainable Leadership coach

Candice Valenzuela is a proud native of Watts, CA who has lived and worked in the Bay Area education community for 13 years. Starting out as a health educator, she went on to teach Special Education, high school English, creative writing, women's studies, and ran multiple after school enrichment programs before becoming a professional coach and consultant.

She has a BA in Humanities and Philosophy from Loyola Marymount University, and an MA in East-West Psychology from the California Institute for Integral Studies. Candice is a lifelong student of healing, spirituality and wellness and has studied with community healers, indigenous elders and mindfulness teachers throughout the Bay Area, Los Angeles and Oaxaca. Her belief is that at the intersections of education, healing and social justice lie the keys to a better future.  

certified holistic nutritionist and natural foods chef

Erica Favela’s first year in the classroom was probably not much different than most new teachers’ experiences: she was stressed, addicted to caffeine, and exhausted. She knew if she was going to make it through the year, something needed to change. Ultimately, when she changed her diet, everything else changed. She finally had the energy to keep up with her third graders, as well as the mental fortitude to teach and lead them with patience and positivity.

After four years at Greenleaf Elementary in Oakland, she made the painful decision to step out of the classroom to pursue further studies in holistic nutrition. Her whole health journey began in the classroom, so working with The Teaching Well to support teachers is exactly in alignment with her roots and goals. She uses her personal experience as a teacher to lead nutrition workshops from a space of complete empathy and compassion, and deliver information that she knows to be absolutely game-changing.