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 EDUCATOR COUNCIL

Dr. Mary Hartsell is both a Family Nurse Practitioner and a Family Psychiatric and Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. She received her Bachelorette in Nursing from UNCG in 1981. She returned to graduate school and received her Master in Science of Nursing with a concentration in Administration of Systems at Duke University in 1996. Dr. Hartsell was committed to health of individuals and returned to school and achieved a Post-Masters at Duke University in 1999 as an FNP. In 2004, She attended Rush University in Chicago and received another Post-Masters as a PMHNP-F in 2006. She holds a Doctorate of Nursing Practice from Duke University. She has worked in many capacities of nursing including Pediatrics, Psychiatry, Home Care, Internal Medicine, and Family Health. She currently provides care within a private practice at Wake Psychiatry in Raleigh, NC, where she practices as a nurse practitioner and therapist specializing in providing holistic care to individuals with complex chronic medical and psychiatric illnesses. Dr. Hartsell has studied extensively the art of contemplative meditation and has incorporated these practices as the foundation of her clinical work. Mary is a graduate of the Inner Life of the Child in Nature Program, class of 2014.

Catherine Hines’ early career choices were guided by her interest in math and science.  She received a BS in Chemistry from the University of Pittsburgh and a Doctorate in Optometry from the New England College of Optometry.  During optometry school, Catherine cofounded the school’s first peer tutoring program and discovered her passion for teaching.  After completing a residency program in Philadelphia, Catherine returned to Boston and joined the faculty at her alma mater, where she specialized in ocular disease and focused on innovative teaching methodologies. When Catherine relocated to North Carolina, her focus shifted to administrative and regulatory aspects of optometry, but her passion for teaching and education continued through a variety of volunteer activities.  She taught computer labs as a PTA volunteer, served on the Board of Directors for a K-12 charter school, developed and delivered jewelry-making courses for at-risk girls and young women, and served as a docent at the Carolina Raptor Center. During this period, Catherine’s spiritual awakening led to in-depth explorations of transpersonal psychology, archetypes, and shadow work and she was drawn to earth-based spiritual practices. Catherine’s volunteer work at the raptor center ignited a desire to share her deep appreciation of nature with others.  She became certified as a Master Naturalist through the Central Carolinas Master Naturalist Program and enrolled in the North Carolina Environmental Educators program.  When she discovered The Inner Life of the Child in Nature program, she immediately resonated with its intersection of education, nature, and spirituality.  Catherine is currently enrolled in the program, class of 2019, and is enthusiastically exploring new ways to bring this work into the world.

Andrew Levitt holds a BA in English from Yale University and a PhD in Folklore from the University of Pennsylvania. He trained as a mime with Marcel Marceau and with Paul J. Curtis at The American Mime Theatre. Andrew performed and taught mime professionally for over thirty years and then helped found the high school at the Emerson Waldorf School in Chapel Hill, NC where he taught Humanities and directed theater for seven years. Andrew co-created a performance piece, “The Meadow Across the Creek: Words from Thomas Berry” for the Thomas Berry Centennial and is the author of All the Scattered Leaves of the Universe: Journey and Vision in Dante’s Divine Comedy and the Work of Thomas Berry, published by the Center in the Fall of 2015, and Heron Mornings, published by the Center in the Fall of 2017. As Dr. Merryandrew, he currently works as a clown doctor in the Pediatric unit at Moses Cone Memorial Hospital in Greensboro, NC. Andrew is a graduate of The Inner Life of the Child in Nature Program, class of 2008.

Susan Licher‘s love of nature began in the woods and creek running through her family’s farm in Missouri. While she did not fully realize it at the time, this love showed through as she first received a B.S. in Geography and then a M.S. in Resource Planning from Missouri State University. Her early career was spent working to protect nature through regulations, but she realized that educating others rather than regulating them was how she would like to protect nature. She moved on to informal environmental education, but this still led to unfulfilling facts and figures. Finally, when she enrolled in The Inner Life of a Child in Nature, she realized that she had found a path she could follow - a whole new way to relate to and be in the natural world that helps connect herself and others in a much deeper way to the awe, beauty, and interconnectedness of the natural world. Since graduating from the Inner Life program in 2017, she has worked at the Walden Woods Project and now integrates nature and mindfulness in South Carolina.

Marie Nordgren is the founder, director and a teacher at The Children’s Garden Preschool, a nature and play based early childhood program in Durham, NC. She received her training in Waldorf early childhood education from Sunbridge College in Spring Valley, New York. Marie has engaged in an in-depth study with the Choreocosmos School of Cosmic and Sacred Dance. Her three grown daughters, three grandchildren, and husband, Carl, are also a never-ending source of new learning experiences. Marie is a graduate of The Inner Life of the Child in Nature Program, class of 2008.

Sally Pamplin holds a doctorate in Educational Leadership from Nova University, an Ed.S. in Middle School Curriculum, a Master’s in Early Childhood from GSU, and a BA. in education from Emory University.  Her doctoral work consisted of developing and administering a program for low economic, underachieving children. Sally taught and administered curriculum in the Fulton County, GA school system for 25 years, writing and developing curriculum for differentiated learning, and facilitating Dr. Gerald Lieberman’s Using the Environment as an Integral Context for Learning.  She co-established a publishing company, Creative Classrooms, and was part of a team who developed the Advanced Training of Environmental Educators in Georgia Certification program (ATEEG). After “retirement” she was an education consultant for 5 years throughout the Eastern States for underachieving schools. Currently, Sally is following her passion delving into the Wisdom traditions, studying Perennial Wisdom with Rabbi Rami Shapiro, Teilhard de Chardin with Rev. Dr. Cynthia Bourgeault, Celtic Spirituality with Rev. Dr. John Philip Newell, and The Wisdom of the Sufi Path with Rev. Matthew Wright.  She shares these wisdom traditions with her church’s adult education classes, contemplative and interfaith organizations. Sally is a member of the Inner Life of the Child in Nature class of 2019.

Tom Roepke recently retired after thirty-five years of teaching. For the past twenty years he taught in New York City as a literacy specialist at a public school in East Harlem. His role included helping teachers, parents and children engage in contemplative practices and develop social and emotional learning competencies. Earlier in his career he became a certified Waldorf teacherd taught a class of children from first grade through seventh grade at the Rudolf Steiner School in NYC. Tom graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a BS in Education. He also has a Masters in Early Childhood Education from Antioch New England and a Masters in Special Education from Hunter College. As a current participant in The Inner Life of the Child in Nature Program, class of 2019, he is exploring the role of imagination, wonder, and beauty in education.

Colette Segalla is a psychotherapist in private practice in Raleigh, NC. She approaches psychotherapy with clients from a perspective informed by her ongoing work with the Center. In areas addressed during the therapeutic process, Colette recognizes the interconnectedness of life and the sacred relationship between human beings and the natural world. Her work with clients is particularly focused on relationships – both inner relating within the self, and interpersonal relationships.  Colette completed her PhD at Pacifica Graduate Institute where the mission is “animae mundi colendae gratia” which means tending the soul of and in the world. Colette was very drawn to this mission and found a deep resonance between Pacifica and the work of The Center. Her participation in the Inner Life of the Child in Nature program at CEINW coincided with her graduate studies and became central to her doctoral research. Before returning to graduate school, Colette was an AMI certified Montessori teacher in a lower elementary classroom of six-to-nine-year-old children. The work of Steiner and Montessori contributed to her Jungian-based exploration of children's spirituality and how a relationship with the natural world contributes to the child's development of a sense of self. Colette is the author of I am You, You are Me: The Interrelatedness of Self, Spirituality and the Natural World in Childhood, published by the Center in the Fall of 2015. She is a graduate of The Inner Life of the Child in Nature program, class of 2008 and has served on the Educator Council since 2010.                               

William Wallenbeck was born in Washington DC, into a military family, who would live in many places, most being in the Western high desert regions and often under the watchful eye of the Sierra Madres. He is father of four wonderful children; Amy, Melissa, Luke and Ben and proud “Papa” of two precious grandchildren; Wren and Calder. After 28 years of traditional pastoral work in Western New York, Bill stepped out into a broader way and sense of what God/Life was up to in the world. He has experienced a steady and irresistible pull into simplicity and a contemplative exploration of life that he refers to as a  “waiting forward."  Bill is a graduate of The Living School at the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His most recent work, along with daily practice of silence and meditation, was teaching Wellness and Body Life at Exploris Middle School in Raleigh, NC. This last year he has lived “a do nothing still,” with no formal work, listening and waiting.  Bill is a graduate of the Inner Life of the Child in Nature Program, class of 2014.

Center 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 adults and children that cultivates an “I-Thou” relationship between human beings and the natural world.  She holds a Ph.D. in Language in Education from the University of Pennsylvania, where she co-created a concentration in Childhood Imagination. Peggy is the editor of Chrysalis, the Center journal, and Only the Sacred: Transforming Education in the Twenty-first Century, a Chrysalis reader. She edited the Center’s Emergence Series in 2015 and shepherds the Center’s program for educators, “The Inner Life of the Child in Nature: Presence and Practice.” Peggy has an abiding interest in working collaboratively with soul and spirit in small organizations through deep listening and presence to what is calling from the future.  As Director, Peggy is liaison to the Educator Council Board.


Advisory Council

Renée Eli holds a Ph.D. in Transformative Studies with a concentration in Consciousness Studies from the California Institute of Integral Studies. Her bio-philosophical research explores the inter-permeating nature of Life, body, and Being. A retired healthcare provider, Renée also consults with teams of medical researchers internationally to address concerns related to the burgeoning epidemic of chronic diseases. She is a recipient of a doctoral research fellowship from Esalen Institute’s Center for Theory and Research. She serves on the Advisory Board for the UNC Master of Liberal Arts & Sciences Program, the Editorial Advisory Board for the Society for Consciousness Studies’ academic journal, Consciousness: Ideas and Research for the Twenty First Century, and the Advisory Board for the Center for Ecozoic Studies. With her wife, Lisa, Renée is coproprietor of The Keyhole House, located in Asheville, NC, an urban sanctuary for sojourners and writers. She is a graduate of the Inner Life of the Child in Nature Program, class of 2012.

Etsuko Kinefuchi (Ph.D., Arizona State University) is an Associate Professor of Communication Studies at UNCG, doing groundbreaking work in expanding the field of intercultural communication studies to include an ecological context.  Her work in ecology and culture and ecofeminism is making a significant contribution to the environmental Humanities from a multicultural perspective.  In her award winning article, "Two Stories, One Vision: A Plea for an Ecological Turn in Intercultural Communication," she and co-author S. Lily Mendoza call for a new role for the field of intercultural communication in relationship to the ecological crisis of our time by turning to ethnoautobiography as a method rooted in story and the indigenous paradigm.  In Etsuko's storied part of the article she cites Thomas Berry and writes, "The radical separation that eco-theologian Thomas Berry observed about us modern humans was my initiation into a profound questioning of my own life and how it is that I came to be disconnected from the Earth."  She concludes that "even the most critical views of culture that were reflexive of power and context frame culture myopically, without ecological grounding.  As Thomas Berry argues, the crises of humanity that we face today require a different contextualization in theory and praxis - a contextualization where the Earth is primary and humans are a mere subsystem in it."  Dr. Kinefuchi is a member of the Inner Life of the Child in Nature Program, class of 2019.

John Shackelton has been an educator for over forty years. His twenty-seven years of teaching experience have included lower elementary, middle and high school, and college; he has served as head of three alternative schools, most recently Rainbow Mountain Children’s School in Asheville, N.C.  John is presently involved in mentoring the School of Living Arts at Sacred Mountain Sanctuary in Candler, NC. He also does educator training workshops focused on teaching as a sacred work. He has one published novel, The Lowly Papers, a story of Appalachia, and presently works part time as a tutor in The Writing Center at AB Tech Community College. John is a graduate of the Inner Life of the Child in Nature Program, class of 2008.

Katherine Ziff is an exhibiting artist and a mental health counselor in Athens, Ohio. She recently served on the faculty of the Counseling Program at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC. A former elementary school counselor. Katherine was born by the ocean in Jacksonville, NC, raised in the piedmont area of the state in Winston-Salem, and has lived in Athens, Ohio for twenty years with her husband Matthew. Katherine holds a doctorate in counselor education and is the author of Asylum on the Hill: History of a Healing Landscape, published by Ohio University Press in 2012. Also a flower essence practitioner, she completed training with the Flower Essence Society while also studying the work of Julian Barnard of Healing Herbs in England. Katherine is a graduate of the Inner Life of the Child in Nature Program, class of 2012.