Featured Special Guests (Bios.)

Andrea Purcell As a classroom teacher, I worked to bring what I had learned into my own practice. During those teaching years, I was introduced to Big Picture Learning. The simple foundations of structuring learning opportunities around Relationships, Relevance, and Rigor resonated deeply and have informed the work I have done as a teacher, principal, and consultant for the past 20 years. I believe in the power of education to battle the inequities pervasive in our communities.

​​David West is a member citizen of the Potawatomi Nation. He is recently retired from 21 years as Director of Native American Studies at SOU. With a Master’s Degree in Community Psychology from the University of Alaska, he has also taught at Rogue Community College and been a leader in facilitating Native community events, traditional ceremonies, and educational visits to schools. He is also a veteran of the US Air Force. He has been the recipient of awards from the Oregon Indian Education Association for Indian Educator of the Year. His focus is on revitalization of Native American ecological practices to promote the welfare of Mother earth and all our relations.

Born in Missouri in 1946 of Irish and Cherokee heritage, Four Arrows is a professor in the College of Educational Leadership at Fielding Graduate University. After a stint as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps, a variety of adventures brought him to live or work closely among the Raramuri, Kunkaak, Navajo and Lakota. Made a relative and named by the Oglala after fulfilling his Sun Dance vows while serving as Dean of Education at Oglala Lakota College, he continues on the Oglala spiritual path as a pipe carrier and served four “tours of duty” at Standing Rock. With doctoral degrees in Health Psychology and in Curriculum and Instruction (with a cognate in Indigenous worldview), he has authored twenty books and numerous invited chapters and articles. While a tenured professor at Northern Arizona University, he co-founded a Veterans for Peace chapter. In 2004 he was awarded the Martin Springer Institute Award for Moral Courage and in 2010 AERO named him as one of “27 visionaries in education” for their text Turning Points. Among his hobbies he plays handball and stand-up paddle board surfs. He was first alternate for the U.S. Equestrian Endurance team for the 1996 Olympics and has participated in the International Old Time Piano Playing Contest have won the duet division at the University of Mississippi in 2016. He lives with his artist wife in a small village in Mexico.

Jack Miller teaches courses in holistic education and contemplative education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. He is author/editor of 20 books including, The Holistic Curriculum, Love and Compassion: Exploring their Role in Education and most recently his memoir, A Holistic Educator’s Journey. His writing has been translated into 9 languages. 

Margaret Wheatley, Ed.D. began caring about the world’s peoples in 1966 as a Peace Corps volunteer in post-war Korea. As a consultant, senior-level advisor, teacher, speaker, and formal leader, she has worked on all continents (except Antarctica) with all levels, ages, and types of organizations, leaders, and activists. Her work now focuses on developing and supporting leaders globally as Warriors for the Human Spirit. These leaders put service over self, stand steadfast through crises and failures, and make a difference for the people and causes they care about. With compassion and insight, they know how to invoke people’s inherent generosity, creativity, kindness, and community–no matter what’s happening around them. Margaret has written ten books, including the classic Leadership and the New Science, and been honored for her pathfinding work by many professional associations, universities, and organizations. She received her Doctorate from Harvard University in 1979, an M.A. in Media Ecology from NYU in 1974, and a B.A. from University of Rochester in 1966. She spent a year at University College London 1964-65. Her website is designed as a library of free resources as well as information about products and her speaking calendar. www.margaretwheatley.com

With over 15 years as a teacher in secondary education, Matthew Reynolds is passionate about disseminating knowledge. As a powerful speaker, consultant and author, Matthew helps audiences shift their consciousness, create belonging, and build a better world for all of humanity.

Xiaoan Li, PhD, is program officer at The Fetzer Institute in Kalamazoo, Michigan. His specialties include spiritual leadership development, healing democracy, and spiritual development in the context of higher education. Of his many projects—which include spiritual leadership development, healing democracy, and spiritual development in the context of higher education—he  enjoys helping build an ecosystem for the spiritual development of children and youth. That body of work focuses on the question of how to promote the spiritual and moral development of young people in and through U.S. pre-K and K – 12 schools with the goal of better integrating the head and the heart, the mind, the body, and the soul.

Session Presenters (Bios.)

Aja Rayburn has been working as a Resolution Specialist with the Resolve team since the start of 2023. Aja works as a mediator for small claims and landlord/tenant cases as well as in schools delivering bullying intervention programs.While still finishing her Bachelor’s degree at Southern Oregon University, she is inspired to keep growing her conflict resolution and facilitation skills. Aja is especially interested in how conflict is embodied both intrapersonally and within a sociocultural context. She hopes her work in mediation and restorative justice will support individual and community healing.

Alan Vann Gardner is a retired school principal/administrator who has incorporated mindfulness, aikido, and restorative practices to impact positive school culture, academic achievement, social/emotional learning and systemic change. Alan now serves as a mentor and coach helping leaders and teams be resourceful, resilient, wholehearted and engage skillfully in the world. He is a certified mindfulness meditation teacher, a 6th degree black belt/senior instructor at Two Rock Aikido Dojo, and collaborates with other organizations (TEL-Transformative Educational Leadership, MMTCP-Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Certification Program, Challenge Success, Full Contact Institute) to serve schools and other groups.

Allison Brown is passionate about working with educators to cultivate mindsets and develop practices that disrupt systems of oppression and ensure educational equity for all students. She began her career as a founding Special Education teacher at an elementary school in South Los Angeles and has worked as a Special Education coordinator, instructional coach, and Beginning Teacher Induction program leader. Through this experience, Allison has developed expertise in evidence-based literacy instruction, Universal Design for Learning, data-driven coaching and professional development facilitation. Currently as an education consultant, Allison works in partnership with district and school leaders across multiple states supporting instructional coaching, curriculum implementation efforts, and strengthening professional learning systems that empower educators to meet the diverse academic and social emotional needs of their students. Allison holds a Bachelor’s degree in English from the University of California San Diego and a Master’s degree in Special Education from Mount Saint Mary’s University.

A spiritual seeker from the age of sixteen and an academic researcher since he turned sixty, Amir Freimann spent two years in a Zen monastery in Japan and over twenty years in a small and intense spiritual community in the US. He co-founded “The Spirit of Education” movement in Israel and co-edited the book “Education – The Human Questions.” His interest in the spiritual teacher-student relationship yielded the book “Spiritual Transmission” and the paper “Surrender to Another Person.” He is currently completing his doctoral research, “Living Transcendence: A Phenomenological Study of Spiritual Exemplars,” based on in-depth interviews he conducted with 32 spiritual teachers of different traditions and paths, and starting a follow-up interview-based research, “Living Transcendence: Experience, Motivation, Relationality, Responsibility.”

Andrea Laubstein, is a dedicated advocate for holistic education and the integration of yoga into educational settings. With over 15 years of experience teaching yoga to children and adults, Andrea is a seasoned practitioner, teacher, and children’s yoga teacher-trainer who has studied and taught in the United States, India, and Thailand. She is currently the director and lead teacher at Roots of Life, a holistic & nature-based program in Carrollton, GA, as well as the coordinator for bi-monthly Virtual Holistic Education Discussions. Join Andrea as she shares her insights and experiences, providing theory, resources, and practical strategies for integrating yoga into educational settings.

Anne Adams has been a teacher, school director, university instructor, a manager in an international educational corporation and transformative consultant to both large and small corporations, both nationally and internationally. She has designed, co-created and led individual, cultural and organizational transformation programs through integrating many diverse methodologies and philosophies….in deep, systemic, transformational initiatives – for individuals, teams, corporations, professional groups and educational institutions. Her wide-ranging experiences over the years, woven together with an integral, educational approach, acknowledging our human intelligences, i.e., physical, emotional, mental and spiritual, has brought about a deep commitment to transforming education. This “transforming” shows up as educating FOR human BEINGNESS; People of all ages are “listened to,” “heard,” “seen,” “known,” and honored for “who” they are. 2024 ANNE ADAMS, PhD., California Institute of Integral Studies: Transformation, Learning and Change MA, University of Michigan, Education Psychology

Ashley Kilian is a senior at SOU pursuing a bachelors in Education Studies, a minor in Environmental Science and Policy, a minor in Shakespeare Studies, a certificate is Holistic Teaching, and a micro credential in Social-Emotional Learning. She first started teaching at her family’s martial arts school specializing in mixed martial arts. She currently works at Scienceworks Hands-On Museum in Ashland, OR, as an educator as well as LOGOs Charter School in the Medford School district as an assistant director and fight choreographer for the theater department. She plans to pursue her Masters of Arts in Teaching degree beginning this summer. In her free time, Ashley enjoys rock climbing, singing, playing piano, and hiking.

Autumn Joy Felicidade Florêncio-Wain is the author of the internationally recognized Theory of Holistic Wellbeing (ToHW), an analytic framework for identifying present and needed supports for individual and societal, development and wellness. Her forthcoming doctoral dissertation applies this systematic analysis to the outcomes of holistic educational settings including Montessori, Waldorf, Democratic Free schooling, freedom schooling, homeschooling, and other nontraditional/progressive K-12 pedagogies in the US and Canada. AutumnJoy’s current projects include guest editing the upcoming social justice themed issue of Holistic Education Review, and a poly-ethnographic, transdisciplinary study of the intentional use of psychedelics in the US and Brazil. Fluent in Portuguese, French, Spanish, and English, AutumnJoy is an adjunct professor in the department of Educational Studies and Leadership, SUNY New Paltz. Her research interests focus on identifying powerful paths toward personal and societal wellness, equity, creativity, and joy.

As an educator, writer, developmental consultant, and public speaker, Ba Luvmour specializes in the fields of human development, the Natural Learning Relationships of children, the evolution of consciousness through life, transformation learning, nurturing well-being in family relationships, how adult and child grow together, relationship-based and holistic education, and teacher professional development. He currently devotes his time to the Certificate Program at Transformative Learning Foundation. Ba and his wife Josette co-created and developed Natural Learning Relationships. They have studied and explored consciousness since they met in 1979 and have been using Natural Learning Relationships with children, families, educators; in programs; and with schools since the 1980s.

Bachar Chbib was born in Damascus, Syria and grew up on a Charolais ranch in Quebec Canada. He has a BSc in Microbiology and Immunology, a BFA in film production, an MA in Communication, an MA in Education, and is presently a PhD. Candidate at UQAM in Communication. He researches how autoethnographic filming using mobile technology (cellphilms) engaged with the participant’s senses and affects contribute to ecopedagogies being inclusive of nonhumans. This allows for a holistic and ethical integration of the self and Earth through constant re-iteration of ecological thinking. Chbib also speaks several languages and has made a career in filmmaking winning awards and getting international film releases.

Bokyoung Kim graduated from Chung-Ang University in Seoul and joined the Korean Army. After discharged from the Army, he was selected as an exchange student sponsored by the University of Wisconsin at River Falls, a sister university of his alma mater. After that he went to the University of Connecticut as a doctoral student. He earned his doctoral degree and joined the post-doc course at the Center for Korean Research at Columbia University. At that time he received a job offer from the Korean Educational Development Institute (KEDI). So he hurriedly came back to Korea working at KEDI as a senior researcher for three years. Then he transferred to Incheon National University serving about 30 years and will retire on August this year. During his stay at the university, he was visiting professors at the University of Georgia, Northeast Normal University in China, and is currently visiting professor at Sichuan University of Culture and Arts in China. Last year he put up a tiny home in front of a beautiful lake enjoying his retirement.

Britney Foster, MSW, PPSC- Britney Foster, the visionary CEO and co-founder of Trajectory of Hope, weaves together faith, social welfare, education, and entrepreneurship. Through restorative practices, she fosters compassion and reconciliation, transforming lives. With a background as a teacher, counselor, and Dean of Students, she deeply understands the profound impact of discipline on school communities. Her Master’s in Divinity from Harvard enriches her vision, as she extends hope to vulnerable children as an Emergency Response Children’s Social Worker. Britney’s journey intertwines countless human experiences, inspiring us to unlock our extraordinary potential for healing and growth.

Brittney Townrow, a proud member of the Heiltsuk Nation (Bella Bella), BC, embodies the interconnectedness between Indigenous knowledge and Traditional Ecological Knowledge in a Two-Eyed Seeing approach. Pursuing a Master of Arts in Curriculum Studies at the University of British Columbia, Brittney’s journey reflects a deep commitment to relationality and reciprocity. With a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) background and NITEP Alumni, and Early Years Education Diploma (EYED) emphasising Indigenous Knowledge and Place-Based/Land-Based Learning, she now serves as the Junior School Indigenous Education Coordinator. In this role, Brittney bridges cultural teachings with educational practices, fostering a community-centric approach rooted in reciprocal relations and land-based pedagogies.

Cari Satran is a holistic educator who has been working with middle years students for two decades and has included daily meditations in her classroom for as long as she has been teaching. Throughout her career, she has matched her passion for supporting and advocating for her students and their well-being with her dedication to life-long learning completing both her Master’s in Teaching, Curriculum and Learning (2012) and her PBDE (2016). Cari is a longtime social justice warrior and believes that the purpose of education is to foster the growth and well-being of all learners.

Daniella Roze des Ordons (she/her) is a white settler PhD candidate within the Educational Theory and Practice program at Simon Fraser University. Her scholarly work explores ecopsychology-informed nature-based education within a socio-ecological justice framework. Her work as a scholar, educator, and Registered Clinical Counsellor is at the confluence of ecological, social, and personal systems change, with a focus on equity, inclusivity, wellbeing, and justice. Daniella has served as an instructor and researcher at several post-secondary institutions in British Columbia, teaches post-secondary and community-based teacher professional development, and is the founder of Thriving Roots Wilderness School. She serves as a Clinical Counsellor at Okanagan Indian Band’s Cultural Immersion School and facilitates Nature-Based Therapy trainings through Human Nature Counselling Society.

David Marshak’s publications include Evolutionary Parenting; The Common Vision: Parenting and Educating for Wholeness; Inviting Youths to Claim the Power of Their Imaginations; A Journey in Soul; and Kids Need the Same Teacher for More than One Year. David was the founding President of the SelfDesign Graduate Institute and now publishes weekly on Substack about The Evolution of Consciousness.

Debra Weistar, with her husband Tom, founded and directs Synergia Learning Center, located in a mixed conifer forest in the Sierra Nevada foothills. Her pioneering work in outdoor experiential education spans 35 years, and is focused on guiding youth to discover different ways to learn, and to see themselves as essential to the whole. During intensive fieldwork, she observed and documented the impact that social-emotional development had on individual and group capacity to learn. This work often took place on Synergia’s high and low Challenge Ropes Course, a unique learning environment that the Weistar’s adapted and developed over decades to bring about new levels of self-understanding, group unity, and social connection.

Diane M. Gallas, MEd., owns and operates Imagine That…Creative Children’s Centers in the Grants Pass area. Her programs have received the Preschool Promise grant to support childcare programs for preschoolers and partnership grants from the OCCD to support work with infants and toddlers. Currently, Michelle is an adjunct faculty member teaching ECE classes at Rogue Community College, and she participates in the local ECE director’s cohort. Michelle also has a private consulting business which specializes in early learning environmental designs, and she is a passionate advocate for the importance of PLAY as an early learning tool.

Don Berg is an award-winning author, education psychology researcher, alternative education practitioner, and leader. His award-winning book is Schooling for Holistic Equity: How to Manage the Hidden Curriculum in K-12. His research has been published in peer-reviewed journals. He has over 20 years of experience leading children in self-directed educational settings. As the Executive Director of Deeper Learning Advocates he is on a mission to embed the psychology of learning in policy so that policy stops undermining learning. Internationally he has presented his work at conferences in the USA, Canada, Chile, the Netherlands, and in China.

Elizabeth Heppner is a senior at Southern Oregon University who is completing a bachelor’s degree in Education Studies and a minor in Native American studies. Since the age of 10 she has loved volunteering in classrooms, and it was then that she found her love for teaching. As a child who grew up not knowing much about her Native American heritage, she took advantage of the great programs here at SOU to learn more. Through feeling more deeply connected with her heritage a passion grew to find ways to bring cultures into the classroom and become a more culturally responsive teacher. This fall she hopes to start working towards a Masters in the Arts of Teaching.

Elizabeth Hope (“Beth”) Dorman, Ph.D., is Professor of Teacher Education at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado, where she teaches graduate and undergraduate students. Dr. Dorman is passionate about pedagogy and learning from one’s practice. She enjoys trying out innovative approaches to assessment and studying the impacts. Some more recent areas of teaching development include cultivating a pedagogy of flourishing and well-being; equity-centered, trauma-informed practice; competency-based learning; and implementing a hyflex model in which students can choose to participate in class either in person or via Zoom. Her scholarship focuses primarily on the integration and effects of mindfulness and contemplative pedagogies on teacher development of social-emotional competence in diverse contexts. She is author for and co-editor of a three-book series on Contemplative Practices, Pedagogy, and Research in Education (2018) published by Rowman & Littlefield.

Fatima Brunson, PhD. is an Assistant Professor of Education at Spelman College. Dr. Brunson earned her doctorate in Policy Studies in Urban Education from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). Her research is used to connect literature on educational leadership and culturally relevant pedagogies. Currently, she works with schools and districts to better understand how school leaders and teachers work together to enact responsive pedagogies in racially isolated schools and culturally mixed middle schools, high schools, and higher educational institutions. As well, she provides consultation services to museums and education non-profits on inclusive practices that cultivate equitable outcomes.

Gianna Lowry is a substitute teacher in the Phoenix Talent School District and has worked with ages three through fourteen in a variety of educational settings. She is in her last year of her Bachelors program in Education at Southern Oregon University. After graduation she plans on attending Sonoma State University for her Multiple Subject Teaching Credential. She holds passion and experience in the areas of Holistic Teaching, Social-Emotional Learning, Restorative Justice and Core Reflection. She believes that compassion belongs at the center of eduation and advoates for that in her work with children.

Grant Gibson is a PhD Candidate in the Curriculum and Pedagogy program at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (University of Toronto). He is also an Occasional Teacher for the Toronto District School Board. His research falls broadly within the traditions of progressive, democratic, and holistic education, as well as qualitative research. Prior to teaching, he completed his Master of Arts in Philosophy at Queen’s University, where he studied phenomenology, hermeneutics and educational theory. Recently, he spent a year teaching in an Indigenous community in the Yukon. He is currently working on a practitioner research dissertation exploring how to approach spiritual education in Ontario public schools.

At the age of ten, Griffin Toffler (she/her) started her lifelong mission as a play advocate when she collected signatures for a petition, which she submitted to her school board, asking for a better playground at school. Currently, she travels around the world advocating for democratic education. She attributes her three years attending a school based on the Summerhill School model as having saved her life, literally. Her book, not yet published, is a survival guide for middle schoolers. She works as a substitute teacher in Klamath Falls, holds an MA in clinical psychology, and has over ten years of experience as a social worker in California.

Dr. Haley Moore is a high school orchestra director at Canandaigua Academy in Western New York. She has recently completed her Ph.D. in Music Teaching and Learning from the Eastman School of Music. She is certified in Mind-Body Healing and Wellness from the University of Rochester. Dr. Moore advocates for whole-child education and presents her research internationally at music education and holistic education conferences. In her free time, Haley enjoys hiking, mountain biking, swimming, and spending time with nature.

Irina Smykovskaya started her career as an ESL teacher when she was 19 years old and had a chance to work at almost all Japanese language institutions, starting from Language schools, Elementary to Senior High Schools, International schools, Technical colleges, and now at Universities. She is passionate about languages and ESL teaching and from now on she wants to challenge herself as a researcher. Her previous research was in the fields of L2 Motivation and Content-Based-Language Teaching (CBLT). Now she is taking a doctorate course at Kyoto University, where she is doing empirical research about the role of Affect in EFL learning and examining some Humanistic/ Holistic teaching methods in the entrance-test-based classroom environment.

Ivon Prefontaine, PhD is an independent scholar who is a sessional and field instructor in the Faculty of Education at a small private university in Edmonton, Alberta. He taught in Alberta-based K-12 schools for 23 years. Teaching in a unique hybrid school for 15 years, he prepared lesson plans for parents and other adults as co-educators to teach alongside him. Dr. Prefontaine earned his undergraduate degree from The University of Alberta, a Masters of Educational Leadership from The University of Portland, and a PhD from Gonzaga University in Spokane. Prior to returning to school, he worked in banking and finance for 12 years. Dr. Prefontaine’s recent efforts focus on hope and dialogue, a futures approach incorporating a hopeful pedagogy/andragogy, how each teacher’s lived-experiences inform their practice and offer hope for them and their students. He has presented and published on topics related to curriculum theory, how teacher experience becoming teachers, re-imagining K-12 and post-secondary settings, teaching, hopeful leadership, and learning to provide restorative and healing spaces where pedagogies/andragogies of hope counter hateful and polarizing ideologies and indifference.

Mr. James Edward Ford has been a dedicated educator in Thailand for over twenty-three years, and in that time, he has learned not only how to be a dynamic teacher in the classroom, but also a strong visionary leader. In July, 2022, He became the Head of School at Roong Aroon International School. At Roong Aroon International School, holistic and experiential learning are very important in the students’ learning journey. It has been a wonderful experience working with other dedicated educators to bring to life an educational system that puts the students’ needs and interest as a top priority. They see themselves as educational pioneers who want to make a deep impact in education in Thailand.

Javania Michelle Webb, Ph.D is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California Riverside. Dr. Javania Michelle earned her doctorate in Educational Leadership & Policy Studies with an emphasis on Social Justice & Women & Gender Studies at the University of Missouri-St. Louis (UMSL). As a Black Feminist researcher, Dr. Javania Michelle utilizes qualitative analysis and draws on a range of interdisciplinary methods such as life history, community and youth participatory action research, and ethnographic methodologies. She is currently working on a landscape analysis of BlackQueer organizations in the Midwestern part of the United States. Her research interests are Black Queerness, Social Justice, Women Studies, and Youth Empowerment. One of her aspirations is to change the conversation for BlackQueer People, especially youth. Also, Dr. Javania Michelle is the founder of You Are Worthy, Incorporated, an organization committed to providing mentoring and leadership opportunities for BlackQueer Youth. This organization gives an array of experiences in different visualizations by keeping diversity and inclusion at the forefront.

Jay Schroder is the author of Teach from Your Best Self: A Teacher’s Guide to Thriving in the Classroom (Routledge 2023) and creator of the Teach from Your Best Self professional learning program. Jay taught high school English and social studies for 24 years and is currently an Implementation Coach with Southern Oregon Educator Network and an affiliate faculty member at Southern Oregon University. He’s received both the Oregon Council of Teachers of English and the National Council of Teachers of English Teacher Excellence Awards (2021, 2022). Jay is a certified instructor of Social Emotional Learning and a sixth-degree black belt in karate.

Jelena Vasic is an independent scholar, educator, and researcher with over 18 years of teaching experience in Canada, South Korea, and the Philippines. She holds a Master of Education in Adult Education and Community Development/Curriculum and Pedagogy, with a focus on transformative and embodied learning, and spirituality in education. Jelena’s scholarly work explores and integrates a number of her passions: dance, philosophy, spirituality, ecology, ethnography, linguistics, and metaphysics. As a trained contemporary dancer and a certified yoga teacher, Jelena is passionate about honouring the wisdom of our bodies in our teaching, learning, and wellbeing. Since 2019, she’s been conducting an independent research project Metamorphosis Thought Movement which explores transformative power of dance and developing her approach to eco-spiritual andragogy and curriculum.

Jennette Hall, an esteemed educator and advocate, embarked on her academic journey as an Honors student at Portland Community College, earning an Associate’s Degree in Early Education. Currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Development at Southern Oregon University, she anticipates graduating in 2024. With over a decade of experience in education, Jenn specializes in early education, autism spectrum disorders, and behavioral support. Her expertise includes trauma-informed care, collaborative problem-solving, and Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). Jenn’s impactful contributions span institutions like the Hillsboro School District, Forest Grove School District, and North West Regional Service District, emphasizing her dedication to inclusive learning environments. Inspired by her four grown children, Jenn advocates for holistic family support and child-led learning experiences. Passionate about nature, she enjoys outdoor activities with her family, fostering authentic connections to inspire positive community change.

John Bickart likes to work in the background and let good ideas speak for themselves. He believes that children, and sometimes adults, know what they want and that they empower themselves when they listen to their hearts. In the 80s and 90s, he consulted on adult education in the corporate world to Fortune 500 companies. He has taught every age group from pre-school to adult and every type of student from emotionally disturbed to gifted in public and private schools as well as state prisons. He has taught in Shanghai to Peewaukie – New York City to San Francisco. John is all about heart thought – experiencing the fun – the deep joy – of finding relationship with this incredible world of ours. He is passionately grateful for the wonders of nature, including humankind. He considers just about everyone he meets as a friend. Recent Books: 20 Opportunities to Transform Yourself While Teaching, Bickart’s Just-in-Time Fables (Volumes 1, 2, 3), & The Next Version of You.

John Shindler is the Director of the Alliance for the Study of School Climate (ASSC) and a Professor at CSULA. He works with schools internationally in the areas of school improvement, classroom climate, and organizational development. He is the author or the books, Transformative Classroom Management, Transformative Leader’s Roadmap and Intentional Evolution (in press).

Jose Romero, From Eastern Oregon, is a transfer student and a senior at Southern Oregon University, majoring in Education Studies. Having spent a majority of his time in school as an educator in some capacity, through coaching or tutoring, He has held Financially oriented positions on student governments for both Blue Mountain Community College and Southern Oregon University, advocating for student’s financial health and tuitions. He is now using his cultural background as a bilingual son of immigrant parents to focus a lens on Trauma-Informed Education and Care and its use in rural communities. Working as a Children’s Library Specialist, he coordinates community building programs to further children’s literacy and library interactions.

Josette Luvmour, PhD, is a co-creator of Natural Learning Relationships child development. She’s an accomplished developmentalist, consultant, educator, author, and public speaker, specializing in human development and teacher professional growth. In her role within Antioch University’s Individualized Master of Arts program, she shares her expertise. Her extensive body of work includes six books, notably “Grow Together: Parenting as a Path to Well-being, Wisdom, and Joy,” alongside numerous published journal articles and chapters that emphasize nurturing healthy relationships with children. With over 26 years of experience, Josette operates her consultancy, Luvmour Consulting, LLC, enhancing lives through her commitment to optimal well-being in human development.

Katherine “Kat” Greene, Psy.D., has been in private practice as a Licensed Clinical Psychologist for the past 23 years in Southern Oregon, specializing in psycho-diagnostic assessments and evaluations for intellectual, cognitive, and learning disabilities. As a 3rd generation Chinese-American, Dr. Greene supports cultural diversity and the power of growth and self-learning through the arts. She was founder of the Chinese Folkdance Troupe of Fresno (1980-1992), and has presented her personal songs and stories about her family’s journey to America at numerous events, including Angel Island, S.F. and the Smithsonian Folk Festival in Washington DC. Dr. Greene is a board member of the Southern Oregon Chinese Cultural Association, instructor of Halau Hula O Nuku ‘Aina, and plays fiddle with the Celtic band Beyond the Rogue. “Take time to reflect on cultural differences and you will find not only diversity but discover similarities. Leave not with a better understanding of who I am, but who we are.” ~Kat Greene

Kathleen Kesson is Professor Emeritus of Teaching and Learning (LIU-Brooklyn). She currently serves as Program Director and Faculty for the Neohumanist Education Teacher Preparation program offered through the new Neohumanist College of Asheville in North Carolina. She has published numerous books and articles on democracy and education, arts in education, critical theory, curriculum theory, and spirituality and education. Her newest book, soon to be released by Information Age Publishing is Becoming One With the World: A Guide to Neohumanist Education. She is a Global Affiliate with the GUND Institute for Environment (UVM), and a contributing member of the Great Transition Initiative, an international network and think tank of the Tellus Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, dedicated to shaping our global future.

Kim Neiswanger is a 2nd grade teacher at Ruch Outdoor Community School. She is a teacher consultant for the Oregon Writing Project and the Teach From Your Best Self Institute. She is in her 15th year of teaching.

Laurel Waterman is a Ph.D. Candidate in Curriculum and Pedagogy, Wellbeing Emphasis, at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto. She teaches narrative non-fiction writing at the University of Toronto and is an adjunct faculty member in the Alef Trust’s MSc in Consciousness, Spirituality, and Transpersonal Psychology. She is a board member of The Scientific and Medical Network (SMN), a UK-based educational organization focused on the intersection of science and spirituality. She also belongs to the Academy for the Advancement of Postmaterialist Sciences (AAPS Global). Laurel’s research focuses on consciousness studies and education, aiming to popularize participatory and postmaterialist paradigms of consciousness in education.

As an educator, Lea Abrams has kept the concept of transformative change central to her work. For 40 years she taught, developed curriculum, directed divisions, coached teachers and consulted with new school initiatives. She won Teacher of the Year award through NAIS for her work with mindfulness in schools. After some major personal life transformations, Lea decided to focus on helping others through their own transformative processes as a somatic life coach, Courage and Renewal practitioner and a SoulCollage facilitator, She now supports people on their road to self-discovery. She is currently working with a government agency to bring SoulCollage practices into the workplace for building strong teams. She is a fellow and alumni steering committee member for TEL (Transformative Educational Leadership). For this conference, Lea brings the SoulCollage experience to give educators a taste of how this particular practice can impact their own lives as well as the lives of their school communities to help them grow and flourish.

As an educator, author, and musician, Lisa Marie Tucker (BEd, MEd) inspires people to connect with their deepest self, others, the Earth, and beyond. She has been involved in holistic education for over 3 decades, serving as a teacher in the early years, the director of Programs and Exhibits at the Manitoba Children’s Museum, and for the last 25 years has worked with teacher candidates in the faculty of education at the University of Winnipeg. Lisa is passionate about supporting educators in creating dynamic learning environments in which they and their students can truly flourish. Her book Flourishing in the Holistic Classroom was published in 2021.

Lorie Wright has worked in the publicly funded education system for the last twenty years. As an adult literacy facilitator who works with learners marginalized by poverty, undiagnosed learning disabilities, or carceral/institutional relationships, she understands many learners failed to succeed in k-12 because they lacked access to voice. Lorie is also a PhD student in Cultural Studies at Queen’s University. As an OCA(DU) alumnus, she brings an arts-informed lens to her role. Her work as a literacy facilitator has shaped her scholarship and focus, where she looks for possibilities for inclusion, envisioning an academic framework that resists the persistent colonial presence. She encourages educators to welcome voices in media currently excluded from k-12 curricula. She has published with the Journal of Qualitative Inquiry (QI) and Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Lori York, Med. resides on the traditional unceded territory of the xwməθkwəy̓ əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱ wú7mesh (Squamish), and Sel̓ íl̓ witulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations where she researches the intersections between environmental education and Indigenous pedagogy. She works as a District Curriculum & Assessment Mentor for the Vancouver School Board. She specializes in environmental and fine arts education. Her work is focused on training non-Indigenous educators to explore ecological and Indigenous frameworks. She offers professional development workshops on LEAF Pedagogy, Place-Conscious Learning and weaving environmental and Indigenous pedagogies together. She will begin her PhD in Curriculum Studies at UBC in September 2024. Contact lyork@vsb.bc.ca

Ven Mahayano ordained as a buddhist monk in 2011 right after finishing his master studies in International Development from the UK. Interested in education, he found that learning about oneself was the key factor missing in modern education. He spent the first 6 years of monk-life practicing with his meditation masters in the remote part of Thailand without much interaction with the outside world. Upon his return, he had explored and received teachings from other buddhist linages internationally which allowed him to broaden his perspective in the practice. He has also been working as a translator and coordinator for exchange programs between international buddhist communities in the past 4 years. He has acquired a unique combination of qualities through his monastic experience, his education and his ability to articulate buddhist principles and practice in accessible forms to international audience.

Mandy Dhahan has served as a public School Counselor for six years at title one schools in both primary and secondary schools within K-12. She has led community circles in secondary schools as well as with pre-service counselors. She is a doctoral student at the University of Arizona, Counselor Education and Supervision program. Her research interests include holistic trauma informed teaching practices that are learner centered. Additionally, her research agenda includes school counselor leadership and partnership/collaboration with school administrators as well as school counselors of color experiences in the field of education. She is also a part of the Black Youth Mental Health Initiative led by Dr. Renae Mayes who serves as the principal investigator.

Margaret Perrow is a professor of English and English Education at Southern Oregon University (SOU). As director of the Oregon Writing Project at SOU, she designs and facilitates professional learning opportunities for teachers. Her research interests include teachers’ professional identities, literacy pedagogy, and post-apartheid South Africa; she is the author of A Hidden History of Youth Development in South Africa: Learning in Transition.

Dr. Megan Farnsworth currently coordinates the School Mental and Behavioral Health Microcredential program at South¬ern Oregon University. Dr. Farnsworth believes in humans’ intuitive nature to re-connect to their bodies, minds and spirits, which re-establishes homeostasis and wellness. She utilizes her Oncology Massage Therapy and Aquatic Therapy certifications to witness her clients’ embodied stories. This witnessing can release traumas stored in the body, and is needed for resilience. Her academic research explores the ways verbal and somatic Storytelling impacts grief, trauma, and resilience. She is also documenting the ways warm water stimulates the body’s memories of optimal health stored from utero.

Dr. Meredith Shockley-Smith is the Executive Director of Cradle Cincinnati, Dr. Shockley-Smith is committed to building on the substantial reductions in infant mortality with a sustained focus on health equity and the elimination of the racial disparities of birth outcomes that still plague our community. In addition, she is a Field Professor at the University of Cincinnati Medical School in the department of Pediatrics. Prior to these roles she served as Director of Equity and Community Strategies for Cradle Cincinnati. During her tenure in this role she founded Queens Village, a community of Black women who work towards self-healing and sustainable systems change in the medical space.

Minyoung Song, PhD, is a leader in holistic education in Korea. After receiving her doctoral degree from Japan and returning to Korea in 1997, she founded the ‘Korea Holistic Education Research Society’ and developed it into the ‘Korean Society for Holistic Convergence Education’, which publishes a research journal four times every year. In particular, she contributed greatly to the nationwide spread of activities using the keywords ‘school forests and holistic education’. She is also a board member of ‘Seeds of Peace’, contributing to rebuilding the ‘Border Peace School’ near the DMZ, and participating in the movement for the peaceful unification of Korea. With over 40 years of service as an education official, she has received the Medal of Merit for Education and a Presidential Citation.

Introducing Dr. Jang Mi-suk. She has been providing practical education to infants and toddlers at early childhood education institutions for 20 years. Currently, I am working as the director of the Incheon Seo-gu Childcare Support Center and provide support to directors and faculty of early childhood education institutions. As a student of Professor Bokyoung Kim at Incheon National University, I was able to obtain a doctoral degree, meet Professor Minyoung Song, and practice holistic education. I am honored to serve as the current director of the Korea Holistic Convergence Education Society and to present at Southern Oregon University.

Mohammad Safayet Khan is currently a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand. He is also a senior research fellow and faculty member at BRAC Institute of Educational Development (BRAC IED), BRAC University, Bangladesh. With over 10 years of research experience, Safayet specializes in implementation sciences, early childhood development, and educational assessment, measurement and evaluation. He has published over 15 peer-reviewed articles, monographs, working papers and book chapters. At present, he is working on couple of research projects including a remotely delivered Early Childhood Development (ECD) service and its impact on cognitive and socioemotional development of children (0-5 years) and parental mental health and wellbeing.

Nina Meyerhof co-founder of One Humanity Institute Nina Meyerhof, Ed.D, is a visionary thought leader recognized for a life of advocating for children and youth. The co-author of “Conscious Education: The Bridge to Freedom”, and “Pioneering Spiritual Activism”. Nina has received many awards for her work from The Mother Theresa Award to the Citizens Department of Peace Award to The International Educators Award for Peace as well as the State of Vermont passed a Resolution honoring her for her life’s work in PEACE, the Seeds of Peace Award and second of recipients for the Public Peace Prize. Nina advocates for all people to go beyond cultural, ethnic and religious differences and strive for altruistic ethics. Her focus is on the realization that peace must come from recognizing our interwoven unity thus the One Humanity Institute-a City of Hope. Thus the project One Humanity Institute -a City of Hope is emerging adjacent to the Auschwitz Museum, a place of renown horror with 2 million visitors a year, to learn we must “Never Again” stressing NOT one of us should “Ever Again”. We are now actively in the process of designing a complex of a campus containing a variety of programs as learning opportunities for those interested in resolving conflict and inspiring alternative possibilities for a better world. The One Humanity Institute will offer structures learning experiences for young people and adults through formal and non-formal means.

Paul Freedman was an elementary classroom teacher for 28 years. He is the Founding Head of the Salmonberry School on Orcas Island, WA, where he has worked since 2001. He is a Senior Editor of the Holistic Education Review, a peer review open access journal he helped to re-launch in 2021. Paul serves on the faculty of The Institute for Educational Studies in their Integrative Learning MEd program. He is a doctoral candidate in the School of Leadership Studies at Fielding Graduate University. His dissertation will explore holistic leadership within holistic schools internationally. It centers on the question, how do school leaders’ infuse their holistic pedagogy into their work in organizational leadership? Paul is husband to Andria and father to Quinn (27) and Emma (23).

Pawida Saeho‘s role as a kindergarten teacher in holistic education at Roong-Aroon School for three years, she seamlessly integrates all her life experiences, knowledge, and skills. From her upbringing as the daughter of a rubber plantation owner and gardener to her academic achievements in Mass Communication, Psychology, and Thai culinary arts, she brings a rich tapestry of expertise. Believing in continuous learning, she embraces practices like yoga and meditation for inner growth, guiding her students on a transformative journey of discovery. In her hands, education becomes an unforgettable adventure, instilling a lifelong love for learning. With her holistic approach, she empowers students to thrive academically, emotionally, and socially, preparing them for life.

Dr. Peter Berg, the founder of Youth Transformations, works with teens and young adults as a mental health counselor. He is an adjunct instructor at Southern New Hampshire University, in the Doctor of Educational Leadership program. The author of the best-selling book The Tao of Teenagers: A Guide to Teen Health, Happiness & Empowerment, his work includes helping teenagers empower themselves so they can take charge of their health and happiness and be the masters of their own lives. His mission is to guide youth and families to create transformations that lead to health, happiness and empowerment. He holds a Doctorate in Educational Leadership and has written extensively on alternative, holistic, integrated educational theory and integrated health. Peter helps to organize many aspects of the Alternative Education Resource Organization. He has consulted on many school and organizational startups.

For ten years, Piyada Pichitkusalachai has taught kindergarten at Roong Aroon School, Thailand, delving into inner learning and life’s deeper meanings. Guided by a commitment to fostering self-regulation and well-being in children and colleagues, she holds a Master’s in Human Development and a Bachelor’s in Psychology. Crafting holistic learning environments is her passion, empowering both students and educators. Beyond academics, meditation and self-reflection fuels her personal growth, recognizing learning as boundless and evolving. Rooted in the belief that learning thrives with time, place, and intention, she is devoted to nurturing each individual’s innate curiosity and potential, shaping meaningful educational experiences.

Raven Reyes (Chicane/Yaqui heritage) is an undergraduate student at Southern Oregon University. They are graduating June 2024 with a Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies and Certificates in Native American Studies and in Ethnic and Racial Studies. Their research interests include settler colonialism, decolonizing methodologies, and disability justice. They are a McNair Scholar and plan to pursue a PhD in Native Studies. Raven has been an activist in the Rogue Valley for 10 years and currently works as an Organizer at Rogue Action Center.

Rebecca Tree has worked in the early childhood community for over 35 years beginning at Red Rocks Community College in Colorado. After moving to Oregon in 1990 she worked for various preschools prior to establishing a non-profit program in Medford, Oregon serving diverse populations for over 20 years. Rebecca is currently the Director of the Community Preschool of SOU and an adjunct faculty member in the Early Childhood Development department since 2014. Ms. Tree received her master’s in education from Southern Oregon University at the age of 62, proving that learning is a life-long endeavor.

Remington Cooney is a university lecturer, program coordinator and mindfulness trainer who has designed two university curriculums utilizing mindfulness and emotional intelligence: Mindful Leadership (NHL-Stenden Bali, 2019); and the award-winning Life Skills for Success & Wellbeing (Taylor’s University, 2017). Currently, Remington works as adjunct lecturer and consultant for NHL-Stenden Bali, whilst running his own coaching business – Dao of Now – training South East Asian business leaders and educators in mindfulness-based practices. He currently resides in Bali, Indonesia.

Robert (Bob) London is a professor emeritus at California State University. My major professional interest is integrating a spiritual perspective in secular education, including: identifying principles concerning education considered consistent with a spiritual perspective, clarifying a spiritual perspective for developing a strong connection with Nature, investigating the implications of the Mystery of Spirit for education, and transformative approaches to teacher education. I was the director/faculty for the MA in Holistic Education, California State University, a program recognized as transformative. I initiated the Spiritualty and Education sig in AERA; directed the Spirituality and Education Network that sponsored six working retreats and a five-day international conference; and am a holistic mathematics educator authoring a book on a comprehensive holistic curriculum for secondary mathematics education.

Dr. Robin Howe is an expert in Montessori Education with a focus on students from ages six through 18. Robin, began his experience in Montessori education at the age of two, when he attended the Barrie School in Silver Spring, Maryland. Over the next forty plus years, Dr. Robin, as the students call him, would go on to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Spanish and Religion, a Master’s Degree in Bio-ethics, a Doctorate in Education, and multiple Montessori credentials for students from ages three through 12th grade. Over his career, he has served as a head of school, university administrator, school consultant, and other roles in education. Dr. Howe’s interest in partnership education stems from his background in Montessori and blossomed as his relationship with Dr. Riane Eisler led him to start working with her, designing academic programs in Partnership Education. Dr. Howe has been fortunate to work with schools around the world and travel and experience cultures domestic and international and recognised the opportunity and need for change in the way that people perceive education, eachother, and the world at large. Consistent with many pioneers in education, Dr. Howe believed the way to a more harmonious future is through education and the development of the children that will be the leaders of tomorrow. In his spare time, Dr. Howe is attempting to run marathons in all fifty states and all Abbot World Marathon Majors. He is getting close.

Sarah Farrell Johnson, M.Ed. is a passionate 17-year public school educator (middle and high), a PhD student at Lehigh University, and the communications secretary for the International Association for Children’s Spirituality. Her research interests include spirituality in education: in particular, teacher well-being and secular spirituality in public schools. Her dream is to help the educational system realize a less industrialized and more humanistic and holistic approach towards teaching and learning.

As a Resolution Specialist at Resolve Center for Dispute Resolution and Restorative
Justice, Sarah Heigel has worked predominantly in the school setting delivering bullying
intervention programs and supporting staff in whole school implementation of restorative
Sarah started her path to restorative practices working as a river guide with the Life
Expanding Adventure Program (LEAP), a program that supports people affected by
significant health issues, psychological distress, and socioeconomic adversity in healing
and growth through immersive wilderness experiences. Through LEAP Sarah
experienced firsthand the impact that community building circles and restorative
practices can have and she discovered a passion for navigating conflict with
trauma-informed, intentional communication practices that empower those involved, and
ultimately strengthen our communities.

Sean Corrigan is an Assistant Professor of Multicultural Education at Southern Oregon University. Prior to his time in higher education, he taught social studies for 14 years in Compton, CA, Las Vegas, NV, and Vanuatu. He has worked extensively with culturally and linguistically diverse K-12 learners in several countries, in both urban and rural settings. Dr. Corrigan’s current research focuses on human rights education and global citizenship. He is especially interested in empowering teachers to center social justice and diverse perspectives in their practice, particularly when they may face opposition to doing so. He lives in Ashland with his wife and two daughters.

Shannon Ingraham is a current student at Southern Oregon University. She will be graduating in June 2024 with her Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Development, having already received an Associate of Science in Early Childhood Education and Associate of Arts in General Education at Shasta College. While attending SOU Shannon is simultaneously working in the Resource Room of a preK-5 elementary school, where she combines her passions for holistic child development with helping young at-risk students and students with disabilities. During her time at Southern Oregon University, she has also stood as president of the Early Childhood Education Leadership Club.

Dr. Shannon Leddy is a card-carrying member of the Métis Nation of British Columbia and an associate professor of art education at the University of British Columbia, whose practice focuses on using transformative pedagogies in decolonizing and Indigenizing teacher education. Her book, Teaching where you are: weaving slow and Indigenous pedagogies, written with Dr. Lorrie Miller, is now available from the University of Toronto Press. She is also a mother and a Nehiyaw/Cree language learner as well as a Danish language learner.

Shue-kei Joanna Mok is a doctoral student in International Education Policy at University of Maryland, College Park (UMD). Her research focuses on arts integration, global citizenship education, identity, and holistic education in relation to education for sustainable development. Joanna founded Contemplative Learning and Living, a graduate student organization at UMD that holds an experimental space for everyone to (re)connect to themselves, to others, to the environment, and to the world through aesthetic experiences and dialogues across departments and offices on campus. As an aspiring leader, researcher, and practitioner, Joanna has organized dozens of events and workshops at UMD and beyond to promote more inclusive, exploratory, and sustainability-conscious programming for holistic learning in higher education.

Stephanie Hougan, originally from Illinois, is a transfer student and Senior this year at Southern Oregon University (SOU) majoring in Education Studies. Stephanie has been an active member of the general Holistic Teaching & Learning Committee (HTLC), Tech Subcommittee, Conference Planning Committee and recently has become Vice-president of our Club Leadership team. She is also an active member of the Oregon Education Association’s Aspiring Educators chapter, as she currently serves on the AE committee in Oregon.

Thomas Peterson has served for the past 33 years as a professor of Social, Cultural and Philosophical Foundations of Education at the UWG. He teaches education courses including philosophy, critical theory, and cultural studies. His research interests include teachers’ inner-life, burnout/renewal, growing a spiritual classroom, and igniting a hope and discovery in youth. Son of a preacher, Thomas lived his formative years in South East Asia. Prior to his appointment at UWG, he was an elementary/middle school principal in NC, art teacher in California and Maryland, World Masters gold medal winner in badminton, flight instructor, and pilot missionary to Africa.

Tobin Hart, Ph.D. serves as Professor of Psychology in the University of West Georgia. His work explores human consciousness especially at the nexus of psychology, spirituality, and education. Recent books include: The Four Virtues (thefourvirtues.com), The Integrative Mind: Transformative Education for a World on Fire, and The Secret Spiritual World of Children.

Tom Browning is a professional learning leader at the Northeastern Nevada Regional Professional Development Program (NNRPDP) in Elko, Nevada. Dr. Browning is passionate about helping teachers create inspiring learning communities and seeks to promote core reflection, equity literacy, and inquiry learning. He has 20 years of teaching experience across a variety of contexts, including seven years as a high school science teacher in a nontraditional learning community for at-promise youth.

Dr. Troya L. Ellis, EdD- Dr. Troya’s research on reducing negative discipline outcomes for Black male students, conducted during her doctoral dissertation, now serves as a cornerstone in her mission to shift educators’ lenses to see the students as more than their behavior. As a full-time professor in Alder Graduate School of Education as the Child Development Faculty and COO of Trajectory of Hope, she passionately advocates for a whole child and whole adult approach in teacher training. Dr. Troya’s unique expertise equips educators to create inclusive and compassionate learning environments that humanize all learners.

Tsipora Claudia Berman, after five decades of expressive visioning wisdom, Tsipora, a creative educator for ages 5-105, providing expansive holistic adventures opening consciousness, welcoming empowerment supporting one’s highest potential. Integrating science, arts, mindfulness, and Positive Psychology through Integration, Imagination, Inspiration, Intuition, her enthusiasm, compassion, and joy are infectious. Her knowledge across multiple modalities and cross-cultural teachings mixed with playfulness creates excitement and engagement. A former educator, parent, coordinator, board president, and current board member at The School Around Us, founder of Days Meadow Science Center, Silver Falls Yoga Studio, and adjunct faculty at University of New England, Linn Benton Community College, and Oregon State University, presenting courses, workshops, and consulting in Holistic Education. Tsipora’s Wings: Mindfulness Education and Therapy is her current business.

Younghee Kim, Ph.D., Professor, Coordinator of the Early Childhood Development program, School of Education, Southern Oregon University, Ashland, Oregon. She graduated from Sogang University in Seoul, Korea, in 1985, and received her master’s in 1992 and her doctorate in 1996 at the University of Oregon in early intervention/early childhood. Prior to her teaching at SOU since 1999, Dr. Kim taught in the early child education and the Master of Arts in Teaching program in the School of Education at Oregon State University, 1996-1999. Her research interests include holistic education, whole child and teacher development, core reflection, the human potential, presence and compassion, contemplative practices, and inclusive education for individuals with diverse backgrounds in teacher education.

more coming soon….