Staff

Director, Peggy Whalen-Levitt, has been with the Center since its beginnings in 2000. Working closely with Center Founder Carolyn Toben and cultural historian Thomas Berry, Peggy has been deeply engaged in the formation of a work for teachers and children, based in intuitive, imaginal and contemplative ways of knowing, that recovers the inner vision of a society in harmony with nature. She holds a Ph.D. in Language in Education from the University of Pennsylvania, where she co-created a graduate Course of Study in Childhood Imagination. She has written widely on aesthetic communication in childhood and is the editor of Chrysalis, the Center newsletter, and Only the Sacred: Transforming Education in the Twenty-first Century, a Chrysalis reader. Peggy coordinates the Center’s program for educators, “The Inner Life of the Child in Nature: Presence and Practice.” In 2015, Peggy edited the Center’s Emergence Series.



Director of Children’s Programs, Sandy Bisdee, completed her Association Montessori International (AMI) Teaching Certificate in 1979. A born naturalist and Native American flute player, Sandy has developed the Center's eco-contemplative practices for children since 2005. She completed her certification in the North Carolina Environmental Education Certification Program in 2009. Sandy brings to her work a lifetime of loving children and of loving the earth and of finding ways to bring the two together!





Earth Guide Marnie Weigel is an eco-contemplative artist who enjoys knitting, making pottery, journals, and jewelry. Her creations are inspired by her reflections in silence and beholding in the natural world. She received a BA in Environmental Studies from Warren Wilson College in the beautiful Swannanoa Valley in Western, North Carolina in 1995 and an AAS in Professional Crafts: Clay from Haywood Community College in 2000. Marnie taught 7th grade in public schools for six years before beginning her work with the Center in 2010 as a graduate of the Center’s Inner Life of the Child in Nature program.






Earth Guide Rosemary McCarthy-Mareka completed her MS in Special Education from George Peabody College for Teachers in 1977 and brings her love of teaching and over 30 years of experience to her work at the Center. She has taught children of all ages in a variety of settings. Rosemary’s love of nature began as a child climbing trees, trail riding on horseback and visiting her grandparents farm in southeastern NC. She completed her certification with the North Carolina Environmental Education Program in 2008 and graduated from the Center’s Inner Life of the Child in Nature Program in 2014. Rosemary has studied with Oasis, an Institute for Mindfulness-Based Professional Education and Innovation at the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society with the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Rosemary has a special interest in Native American insights and loves to play the Native American Flute out in nature and with friends.