Matt Davis – Director of Children’s Programming
Matt has over 17 years of experience as a farm-based educator. He has worked in the Place-Based Learning Center (PBLC) since the fall of 1999, when he became an intern in the Visiting Students Program. After finishing his internship, Matt had the opportunity to stay on with the Program as a permanent staff member. He has served the PBLC in many ways over the years, including managing the children’s gardening activities, waterfront safety at the pond, managing the Field Camp for teenagers in the summer, and codirecting the Visiting Students Program. Matt’s interest in place based learning was cultivated while he studied Sociology and Environmental Studies at the University of California San Diego. Email Matt.
Indigo Ocean – Program and Day Camp Manager
With a long history in both the arts and special education, Indigo’s path ultimately turned towards Waldorf education. She served on the Hawthorne Valley Waldorf School faculty for many years, receiving her Waldorf teacher training certification from Hawthorne Valley Alkion Center. She is now able to combine all of her passions for art, education, farming, and food in her role at the Place-Based Learning Center. Email Indigo.
Helen Enright – Business Manager
Helen is responsible for all the functions of a very busy office environment and has been with the program since 1999. She enjoys scheduling the class visits with the teachers, and talking with parents about all the program offerings. As a Business Manager of the program, she is involved with the financial oversight, billing process, and the maintenance of camper records. Hearing the laughter of children as they rush by her window with farm animals is one of the perks of her job. Email Helen.
Betsy Brennan – Program, Field Camp & Operations Manager
Betsy first came to Hawthorne Valley in 2002 as a visiting student. Her farm trip made such an impression on her that she continued to return year after year as a summer camper and then counselor, until she joined the Place-Based Learning Center as a full-time program and summer camp manager in 2018. Betsy studied Germanic Language and Literature at the University of Maryland, after which she journeyed to the Midwest to fulfill a life-long dream of intentional living by joining the Camphill Village in Sauk Centre, Minnesota. The time there was life-changing, and though she felt called back East, the reverberations of the experience there remain with her. She is grateful to return to Hawthorne Valley with a renewed understanding of land stewardship and human relationships. Witnessing raw childhood and growth through challenge is her favorite part of her work. Email Betsy.
Tessa Schmidt – Program & Camp Manager
Tessa first came to Hawthorne Valley Farm as an intern in 2004, wanting to deepen her understanding of Waldorf Education upon graduating from Evergreen University with a degree in education. After interning for a full year, Tessa came to the understanding that she was being called to stay with the Visiting Students Program and joined the full time staff. After some time, she moved back to her home state of Ohio to farm with her family, at which point her daughter Genevieve joined the world. Tessa, Genevieve and their dog Trusty returned to Hawthorne Valley in 2016 and together they enjoy the rhythms that farm-life have to offer. Email Tessa.
Nina Barry, Program Manager
Nina first fell in love with Hawthorne Valley during her time as an intern for the Visiting Students Program in 2010 and has been connected to the Waldorf community ever since.
Growing up she spent her time working with her parents as professional photographers, and learning creative pursuits. She began college at Parsons School for Art & Design and found that while she had always been passionate about the arts she felt a pull towards teaching experiential arts. She transferred to Eugene Lang at The New School and found herself delighted with the alternative Education program they offered. Studying ways of implementing hands-on, nature-based education in schools, she came upon Waldorf Education. She knew she wanted an immersive experience and found Hawthorne Valley’s Place Based Learning Center internship. The experience was transformative for her and she was yearning to gain a deeper insight into the philosophy behind Waldorf Education. Nina enrolled in the Alkion program and completed foundation studies.
She began raising her family and during this time she created a freelance agency, working in the field of graphic design, photography, marketing and web design as well as working for a wellness-based company as a manager, goal coach and personal development educator. She simultaneously became connected with Mountain Laurel Waldorf School where she joined the parent child program and became the Kindergarten assistant there. She knew that she wanted to return to Hawthorne Valley with her family and was delighted at the opportunity to work as the Program Manager for the Visiting Students Program.
Michele Connors-Kowalski, Dining Hall Manager
Michele’s first trip to Hawthorne Valley was in 2005, as a visitor with her family to our annual Fall Festival while expecting her youngest child, Charlotte. Little did she know what fate had in store for her! The farm, biodynamics, and Hawthorne Valley Waldorf school made such an impression, that she and her family decided to find a way to a simpler life. The Kowalski clan became members of the Hawthorne Valley Farm family in 2008 when Michael, her husband, left his corporate job to pursue farming full time. He became a farmer here that same year. The family soon relocated to Harlemville. Michele continued her career as a commercial photographer on a part-time basis while raising their daughters on the farm and sending them to Hawthorne Valley Waldorf school. She was also the go-to cook for the farm’s new learning center for special “day on the farm” events. She cherishes this time in their lives, the wonderful people they met and the simplicity and seasonality of it all. In 2011, they decided to start their own family farm and Full Field Farm was born. Through this, she realized her love of farming was really a love of food and cooking. Michele began selling breads and pies at their markets, catering small events and a new career was born! She came full circle in 2014, when she joined our team as dining hall manager. She loves cooking with clean, local, seasonal foods and enjoys the challenges involved in ensuring this for our programs.