‘Teacher of the Year’ who kneeled during national anthem opens Sheboygan bookstore

WordHaven BookHouse is located at 923 North 8th Street in Downtown Sheboygan
WordHaven BookHouse is located at 923 North 8th Street in Downtown Sheboygan

SHEBOYGAN — An activist educator is opening a Downtown Sheboygan bookstore.

Kelly D. Holstine is the owner of WordHaven BookHouse at 923 North 8th Street. A grand opening celebration is scheduled for Saturday, April 30th and will feature remarks from Sheboygan Mayor Ryan Sorenson. Holstine was a 2018 recipient of the Teacher of the Year award from Education Minnesota, an AFL-CIO affiliated union representing teachers in Minnesota. She was an English teacher at the Tokata Learning Center, an alternative high school for struggling students.

Holstine, who is openly lesbian, made national headlines when she decided to kneel during the national anthem at the NCAA Football Playoff National Championship in January 2020. “I chose to kneel as a way to stand up for marginalized and oppressed people,” Holstine said afterwards, according to The Washington Post. Former President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump were also standing on the field when she knelt in protest.

Last July, Holstine sold her St. Paul, Minnesota house and purchased a three-bedroom single family home in Sheboygan’s Maple Heights neighborhood. “I fell in love with Sheboygan 24 years ago on a camping trip,” said Holstine. “My plan was to retire here, but some personal changes in my life made it possible for me to move here earlier.” When she learned that Sheboygan didn’t have an independently owned bookstore, she decided to open WordHaven which will sell new and used books, writing materials, plush toys, and local art; teach writing classes and host literary events.

WordHaven is opening inside the former Urban Artique, a home décor store owned by Kristin Bork of Grafton. Urban Artique closed their downtown store late last year after seven years. Bork owns Urban Manor at 633 St. Clair Avenue which is a 1912 newly renovated historic home built for the Gutsch family, the owners of the first brewery in Sheboygan.

The storefront at 923 St. Clair Avenue is owned by The Rudnick Group and is located in the same building as Rudnick Jewelers. To learn more about Kelly Holstine or WordHaven, visit

Kelly D. Holstine