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.
Children’s Program Staff
Christopher Coffey holds a BA in English from Middle Tennessee State University and a teaching certificate in Waldorf Education from Antioch University in New England. He taught briefly in the public schools before becoming a Waldorf educator. After completing his teacher training at Antioch in 2013, he moved to Asheville, NC where he has taught at School of Living Arts (SOLA) for the past five years. Christopher spent the first four years teaching in the lower grades. In 2018 he began teaching History, Language Arts, and Poetry in the high school at SOLA. He is a graduate of the Center’s “Inner Life of the Child in Nature: Presence and Practice” program, class of 2017.
Laura Coleman has been a holistic educator since 2004. Her love of nature began as a child growing up in the woods of New England. She found her calling as a Waldorf teacher and strives to always be on a path of learning and growing. She received a BA from New York University and a Masters in Waldorf Education from Sunbridge College. Laura currently resides and teaches at the School of Living Arts (SOLA) at Sacred Mountain Sanctuary in Western North Carolina. She is renewed by the opportunity to help create a living curriculum that involves listening to the earth, the seasons, and especially the children. She is dedicated to allowing children to follow their inner path and to experience their belonging to the sacred earth and cosmos. Laura is a graduate of the Center’s “Inner Life of the Child in Nature: Presence and Practice” program, class of 2018.
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 a graduate of the Center’s “Inner Life of the Child in Nature: Presence and Practice” program, class of 2019, and is enthusiastically exploring new ways to bring this work into the world.
Stephanie Kriner first connected to the Center for Education, Imagination and the Natural World through her two children, who have participated in its “Thomas Berry Summer Programs for Children” and its “Awakening to Nature” program. A former newspaper reporter and international disaster writer for the American Red Cross, she has volunteered to write stories about the Center’s work. In addition to writing and editing, Stephanie, who holds a BS in mass communication from James Madison University and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from George Mason University, has taught English to high school and college students and currently substitute teaches in Greensboro. Now ready to deepen a practice of silence and wonder, Stephanie is excited to learn from and to share her love of the natural world with children. She is most content when she is outside – whether walking on a trail at Timberlake, sitting on her own back porch, searching for shells on the beach with her children, camping with her family at a state or national park or hiking in the mountains with her dog. She is a graduate of the Center’s “Inner Life of the Child in Nature: Presence and Practice” program, class of 2017.
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 Center’s “Inner Life of the Child in Nature: Presence and Practice” Program, class of 2008.