Lederle behind the lens

Settled behind her desk, a cup of rich coffee in hand, Holly Lederle is somewhat reminiscent of a well-known icon of film culture, the beloved Holly Golightly.

In a way similar to Golightly’s clothing-littered apartment, Lederle’s desk is littered with papers, photographs, and trinkets, exposing her carefree and unstructured personality. Her face is lightly powdered, her posture dignified, her eyes luminous. Eagerly she leans forward, a joke already dancing on her lips, teasing out her bell-like laugh.

Fresh into her third year of teaching at Carmel High, Lederle rules the photography lab and the Center for the Performing Arts. This year, she has also taken up the position of teaching Graphic Design as well as becoming co-chair of the Art Club with art teacher Maggie Bevier.

“She’s really a delightful, sweet person to work with,” Bevier says. “She’s probably one of the best coworkers I’ve ever had.”

Described by her fellow teacher as honest, dependable, enthusiastic, creative, and friendly, Lederle is held in high esteem. It seems to be of common consent among those who know her that she is “a ray of sunshine.”

Raised on a ranch in California, Lederle’s artistic interpretation was greatly influenced by her social environment.

“I was exposed to some interesting people,” she says while recalling memories of her father’s company. “He used to have weird friends around who were into black-and-white photography, or silk-screening, or whatever his flavor of the month was.”

It was due to her father that, from an early age, Lederle had an appreciation for art.

“I can’t think of a time that I didn’t like photography,” she says, launching into an account of her college years when she first began to “aggressively” pursue the arts.

Lederle was a tenacious student, and once she put her mind to something there was no relinquishing. Now, she considers having followed an art major in college as “one of the best things [she] ever did.”

After gathering experience in a politically oriented graphic design agency, she began substitute teaching, something most wise adults would consider a suicidal mission; nevertheless, to Lederle, it was an experience which would point her in an entirely new direction.

“It’s why I started teaching. I absolutely loved it!”

When she found herself at Carmel High, she found her niche.

“I got pretty lucky,” the young teacher says. ”If I would have picked my dream job, this is pretty much it.”

As an educator, Lederle believes her most crucial role is that of a mentor.

“The most important part of my job is building relationships with my students… To talk to other kids who are in the same place mentally and tell them it’s [going to] be [all right].”

Lederle does indeed practice what she preaches. Always warm and encouraging, happiness floods her face at the mention of her students’ success. Senior Cole Agenbroad certainly finds this to hold true.

“She’s a mentor but she’s also a friend,” Agenbroad says. “She wants to see you grow as an artist, a photographer, and a person in general…to help you build your creative process.”

Lederle’s goal is to create an environment in which students “feel [that they] can share [their thoughts] honestly.” This particular teaching philosophy drives her to make her classroom available as “a place to grow from.”

As Carmel High’s photography teacher, she has changed the way students perceive art and, perhaps most importantly, themselves.

“Now I see [photography] as a way to advance myself,” says senior Hunter Ingle, who proudly acknowledges the increased level of confidence in his artistic skills after having Lederle as a teacher.

Lederle agrees that her students are as influential in her life as she hopes to be in theirs.

“Something my students have taught me is to slow down… To relax a little bit, to enjoy the process, and to enjoy mistakes.”

It’s easy to see that Lederle lives for her most creative moments, drawing inspiration for her photography not only from the world around her, but from the methodical aspect of the process itself.

“I can lose myself in the steps… I love being in the darkroom. I even like the nasty smell,” she says with a guilty smile. “It smells like creativity.”

Besides a lasting interest in the arts, Lederle has also entertained a passion for science fiction novels since childhood.

“I still do call myself a nerd… or a geek perhaps,” she says mockingly in response to the mention of her literary obsession. “You know, when you’re so into something it’s almost admirable.”

An adamant supporter of the arts, an eager role model, and an intellectual, Lederle balances life as a teacher and a newlywed. As the self-proclaimed “World’s Most Awkward Person,” she professes to have social limitations, but her lighthearted tone says otherwise. One can see she knows well how to make light of her shy manner as she laughs jovially and exclaims, “You just have to be proud of this!”

Whether teaching about art history, participating in the school blood drives, or developing in the darkroom, Holly Lederle remains a role model on campus for both students and staff. Always spontaneous, quirky, and spirited, she is greatly appreciated for her service to the school and will always be known as the art department’s sweetheart.

-Charlotte Anderle