Meet Our Administrators
- Dr. Herman Ohme, Founder
- Jean Ohme, Founder
- Dr. Richard Gowers, Principal
- Levi Leavitt, Director of Finance
As educators our main goal is to foster a thriving learning community: a caring, social, and challenging school for students, and an organization that rewards great teachers.
Dr. Herman Ohme, Founder
Herman has made it his life’s work to develop programs and write books that help students to learn how to learn. He is the author of the Learn How to Learn study-skills books, which have been adopted by schools throughout the United States and Canada.
Herman has taught at UCLA, Yale, and Stanford, and for over forty years he served as a teacher and, later, principal, at public and private schools. The cornerstone of Herman’s vision is a “one size does not fit all” philosophy.
In 2001, Herman and Jean founded School for Independent Learners, based in Los Altos, California. SIL first earned accreditation by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) in 2005. Herman now serves on the board, where he takes an advisory role.
Prior to starting School for Independent Learners, Herman co-founded Mid-Peninsula High School & Palo Alto Preparatory School, successful private Bay Area schools that continue to thrive. Before that, as Principal of Palo Alto's public Cubberly High School, in the 1950's Herman established the first PTSA in California, which for the first time included student perspective in school governance.
Beyond the classroom, Herman handmade an award-winning Modernist wooden chess set, which was produced as a limited run in the 1960's and is valued by collectors today. Herman continues to make art -- most recently, woodcut-style illustrations -- and he spends time with Jean, their children, and grandchildren.
Send an email to Dr. Ohme.
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Jean Ohme, Founder
Jean is a graduate of UCLA, New Haven Teacher’s College, and the University of Santa Clara. She holds an MA in Learning Disabilities, a California teaching credential, and a California administration credential. She taught for decades as a special education teacher in Los Angeles and Redwood City.
In 2001, Jean and Herman founded School for Independent Learners, based in Los Altos, California. For the first few years, Jean directed the operations of SIL, from staffing to the scheduling of lessons. Today Jean serves on the board, and her enthusiasm for learning is an inspiration to our students and teachers alike.
Jean believes that “failure is not an option," a commitment upheld by our faculty. Spending as much time as she can with Herman, their children, and grandchildren, Jean is committed to family.
Send an email to Jean Ohme.
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Dr. Richard Gowers, Principal
Richard joined School for Independent Learners in 2007 as a history and English teacher. In addition to being head of the school and a corporate board member, Richard serves as Social Studies Department Chair. He is also our SAT SSD Coordinator and AP Exam Coordinator.
Richard works with his colleagues to strengthen and expand the school's program, and to ensure that everyone -- students, parents, teachers, and administrators -- collaborates to facilitate student success. Richard oversees new student scheduling at SIL, ensuring students a smooth start.
Richard has served on several WASC Visiting Commitees, and this Spring will serve as a Visiting Committee Chair. This year he is teaching the Big History course as part of a blended-learning pilot program launched by Bill Gates, David Christian, and Bob Bain at the University of Michigan.
Richard earned his PhD in United States History from the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, and he taught at universities in Australia and New Zealand before moving to the United States in 2004.
An avid football fan (in the non-American sense of the term), Richard has supported Tottenham Hotspur FC since birth. In his free time, when he's not watching, playing, or reading about soccer, he may be found running a trail, cooking, practicing the piano, or battling it out at crossword competitions.
Send an email to Richard.
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Levi Leavitt, Director of Finance
Levi brings a unique element to the SIL team as one of only two members not hired to teach. What started as assistance with perfunctory financial responsibilities soon turned into an integral role in the school's financial health and future. He notes the joy of working closely with the stellar administrative team of Ashley, Richard, Elena, and Sarah, and his colleagues cite his sense of humor as setting a warm tone for the SIL family.
Levi's achievement in Digital Technology and Culture through the Creative Media and Digital Culture program at Washington State University gave him a broad base with coursework in MIS, Anthropology, Computer Science, English, Fine Arts, History, Political Science, Psychology, and Sociology. After graduation, he jumped into the professional world and brings years of financial experience to his role at SIL.
When not staring at numbers, Levi is found performing original music around the western United States and Hawaii.
Send an email to Levi.
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