The Spiritual Life Conference Breaks New Ground
On November 9, the Spirituality Mind Body Institute hosted the first ever Spiritual Child: Education Practice and Youth Development national conference. Educators and activists from over 150 institutions from the United States and abroad gathered for this landmark event, sharing insights and new directions for spirituality in education. The conference also launched the National Conference for Spirituality in Education (NCSE), a new organization dedicated to the support of spirituality in youth as the bedrock for character development, thriving and health. The NCSE is dedicated to exploring new ways in which the science behind spirituality can lead to innovations in education. To read more about the conference, click here.
The conference featured the following inspirational presenters:
Lisa Miller, Ph.D., is Professor of Psychology and Education, Director of the Clinical Psychology Program at Columbia University’s Teachers College, and founder and Executive Director of the Spirituality Mind Body Institute. Professor Miller’s research has been published in journals including JAMA-Psychiatry, American Journal of Psychiatry, and the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. She is the author of The Spiritual Child, which contains over fifteen years of research on the impact of religion and spirituality. She is Co-Editor-in-Chief of the APA journal Spirituality in Clinical Practice, Associate Editor of the APA journal Psychology of Religion and Spirituality and Editor of the Oxford University Press Handbook of Psychology and Spirituality. Dr. Miller is a Fellow of the APA, a former President of the APA Society of Psychology and Spirituality and received the Virginia Sexton Mentoring Award from the APA. She received a B.A. from Yale and a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania under Martin Seligman. Dr. Miller works through scholarship and public discourse to integrate spirituality into contemporary psychology.
As Senior Advisor at the United States White House to the Chief Technology Officer, Seth helps lead the Obama Administration’s efforts to promote and diversify STEM education as well as improve the country’s voter registration process. Previously, he founded and served as teacher, principal and superintendent of Democracy Prep, a network of 17 public charter schools in New York and DC. Under Seth’s leadership, Democracy Prep Charter School was the number one middle school in all of NYC, and Harvard researchers determined that the network is one of the most academically impactful institutions in the nation. He recently served as Senior Advisor to Secretary Arne Duncan and Superintendent in Residence at the U.S. Department of Education with a focus on education technology. Seth started his career as a teacher working in South Africa, South Korea and Massachusetts where he learned many of the best practices for serving disenfranchised communities. A zealot for civic learning and engagement, Seth has testified before Congress and been featured by dozens of media outlets, think tanks, and universities. The Truman Foundation, Common Cause, and the Prime Minister of South Korea, among others, have recognized him for his contributions for social entrepreneurship and civic participation. Born and raised in Upper Manhattan, Seth was recently honored with the “Hometown Hero” award from the New York Daily News. Seth holds an Ed. M from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a B.A. from Brown University. He has traveled to 63 nations on seven continents, visiting schools in nearly all of them, and looks forward to seeing the remaining 132 countries with his wife Lana and twin daughters Zannah and Lennox.
Dr. Athan is a member of the faculty in the Department of Clinical Psychology at Teachers College, Columbia University where she also received her doctorate in Clinical Psychology. She is the Clinical Training Director of the Spirituality Mind Body Institute’s LEO Wellness Center. She is also a founding member of the Sexuality, Women, & Gender Project. Her scholarly interests center on women’s development across the lifespan, with a current emphasis on the transition to motherhood, reproductive, and maternal well-being. Her clinical orientation is informed by depth perspectives such as Jungian psychology with a focus on the creative expression of the human psyche in art and psychotherapy. She has been honored to work with the Archives for Research on Archetypal Symbolism on their 10-year effort culminating in The Book of Symbols: Reflections on Archetypal Symbolism (Taschen). With a background in adult spiritual development and as an administrator in higher education, she applies a strength-based and transformational learning framework to foster the positive development of students through innovative curriculum design and academic guidance.
Editor, Independent School Magazine
Exeter, New Hampshire
Michael Brosnan is the long-time editor of Independent School, an award-winning quarterly magazine published by the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) in Washington, DC. He is the author of three monographs on diversity in education, published by the Association of Independent Schools in New England,, and numerous articles on education and other topics. His book, Against the Current: How One School Struggled and Succeeded with At- Risk Teens (Heinemann), was the basis for the 2009 documentary film Accelerating America. In addition, his poetry has appeared in various literary journals, including Confrontation, Borderlands, Prairie Schooner, Barrow Street, New Letters, Rattle, and Ibbetson Street. He lives, writes, reads, and runs in Exeter, New Hampshire.
Kai Bynum is the Director of Studies and the Director of Academic and Strategic Initiatives at the Roxbury Latin School in Massachusetts where he leads the research, design, and implementation process for the School’s curriculum development, elements of the strategic plan, and a range of school-wide programs. Additionally, he teaches English, coaches, and advises students at all levels. Kai previously worked as an administrator, teacher, coach, and advisor at two other independent schools—the Governor’s Academy and Belmont Hill School—and he started his career in public schools. Kai has served as a trustee for the International Boys’ Schools Coalition, a trustee for an independent coed school, and currently serves as a trustee for a K-8 independent school in Massachusetts. Kai is also a lecturer at The University of Pennsylvania where he teachers a doctoral course in Organizational Diagnosis. His current research interests include spirituality and student wellness, emotional intelligence, and organizational theory. He consults with independent schools on issues of organizational diagnosis, diversity and inclusion, and strategic planning ; and he has served on advisory councils on multiculturalism and diversity for the National Association of Independent Schools. Kai earned his Bachelor’s in History at the University of Washington, his Master’s in Literature at Harvard University, his Master’s of Education at Columbia University’s Teachers College, and his Doctor of Education at The University of Pennsylvania. He and his partner live in Jamaica Plain, MA.
In 2009 Dr. Mark A. Carleton became the Headmaster at Presbyterian School in Houston, Texas. Under his leadership, the School has grown its enrollment and expanded its reach in the Houston educational marketplace. Over the last six years, Dr. Carleton has encouraged a new long-range vision as well as several key initiatives that have helped reshape the program and outreach of the School. Examples of these initiatives include a vertically-aligned and child-centered curriculum focused on the “just-right challenge” for each PS student; a 1:1 iPad program that now includes grades 3–8; creative and extensive fine arts electives in grades 6–8 that include partnerships with neighboring museums and cultural organizations; comprehensive wellness offerings such as Biomechanics and Worldviews; targeted and Mission- focused servant leadership programs that include partnerships with area charitable organizations; and new Athletics offerings including swimming, wrestling, and golf. Nurturing and supporting each child is central to the PS mission, and Dr. Carleton is an avid believer in this commitment. Dr. Carleton has an extensive educational background as well as deep experience in independent schools as both an administrator and teacher. He received his Doctorate in Education with a concentration in Leadership for Teaching and Learning from the University of Tennessee, his Master of Arts in English from Louisiana State University, and his Bachelor of Arts in English from Centenary College. After eight years in the “trenches” of independent schools, Dr. Carleton became the Academic Dean and Head of Upper School at Presbyterian Day School in Memphis, Tennessee, in 2002 and served there until 2006. He was then named Associate Headmaster, Academic Dean, and Director of Upper School at the Darlington School, a coeducational, college preparatory, day and boarding school in Rome, Georgia. Finally, in 2009, he arrived in Houston to head Presbyterian School. A committed educational leader and lifelong learner, Dr. Carleton is also a man of sincere faith. He believes deeply in the importance of developing school programs that are rooted in moral purpose in order to guide the minds and build the souls of children. He and his wife Laurel are the parents of two children of their own: Camille, age 12, and Richard, age 7.
Nancy Heuston was born north of New York City, but spent the majority of her childhood in Garrison, NY, on the Hudson River. She attended the Northfield School in Massachusetts and Brigham Young University in Utah. She is married to Dr. Dustin H. Heuston. After living in Utah, Massachusetts and New York, the Heustons and their six children moved back to Utah, where Dr. Heuston founded the Waterford Institute in 1976. In 1981, Nancy Heuston became Head of The Waterford School in Provo, Utah. In 1986 the school added a campus in Sandy, Utah, and in 1989, closed its campus in Provo with plans to continue expansion in Sandy. The Waterford School is a liberal arts college preparatory school, comprising Nursery through Class XII. Currently, 900 students are enrolled at the school, which sits on approximately 45 acres. Recognized by her peers for her educational leadership, Nancy Heuston has served on the Pacific Northwest Association for Independent Schools Board of Trustees, is a member of the National Association of Principals of Schools for Girls (NAPSG), the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), and the National Association of Schools and Colleges (NASC), and is a past member of the Board of Trustees of the Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition. She also served on the Board of Trustees of IHC of Salt Lake City, Utah Valley University, Pacific Northwest Association of Independent Schools, and Harlem Day Charter School, of New York City, NY.
Ariel Kor, M.A., is a fourth-year doctoral student in clinical psycholog y at Teachers College, Columbia University. Ariel is Israeli-born and Singapore-bred, and a graduate of Oxford University (B.A., M.A.). Following a 15-year career in the world of finance, Ariel has returned to academia. He is a Founding Member of the Applied Positive Psycholog y Institute in Israel together with Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar and Professor Mario Mikulincer, and is a board member of Meor—a Jewish education and leadership program at over 20 campuses across the US. His research interests are in adolescent development, spiritual development, character development and positive outcomes.
Skeeter Lee has been working as a teacher, coach and administrator in independent schools for the past 41 years. For 30 years, he has been the Middle School Principal at two Episcopal schools, and for the past ten at St. Martin’s Episcopal in Atlanta, GA. He graduated from high school at St. Albans School, an Episcopal boys’ school in Washington, DC. He has presented at a variety of national conferences, most recently at the 2014 National Association of Episcopal Schools biennial conference, regarding the coordination at St. Martin’s between the religion, guidance, leadership, and counseling programs. He is currently teaching an 8th grade Ethics class with fifteen boys.
Dr. Bridgette O’Brien McGoldrick currently teaches in the history department at Annie Wright Schools. She earned an undergraduate degree in comparative world religions at the University of Puget Sound and a master’s degree from the religion department at Columbia University. She received her Ph.D. in Religion and Nature from the University of Florida in 2013. Dr. McGoldrick has also worked as a consultant to secondary schools with the Center for Spiritual and Ethical Education and taught at the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy in South Africa after receiving a teaching fellowship from the National Council of Girls Schools. Her dissertation focused on religion, ethics and nature in secondary school education and her current research investigates how secondary schools are working to incorporate ideas about ecological literacy/sustainability in light of people’s different religious understanding of the world. In her free time, she enjoys competing in triathlons, marathons and hiking with her family.
WILLIAM V.N. (BILL) PHILIP, M.A.
Bill Philip who has had a long and distinguished career serving in senior leadership capacities at Westminster School in Simsbury, Conn., became the school’s eighth headmaster July 1, 2010. A graduate of The Hotchkiss School, he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in history at Yale University and completed a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies at Wesleyan University. During his 32-year tenure at Westminster, Bill has served in a variety of teaching, administrative and coaching responsibilities, including associate headmaster for eight years and assistant headmaster for three years. He also taught history for 25 years, and served as director of studies, director of college counseling and senior development director. At the core of a boarding school experience, he has been a corridor and dormitory supervisor, a coach of swimming, baseball and lacrosse, and a sought-after advisor.
Rabbi Shaul Praver has served American Jewish communities since 1989. His training was in Israel between the years of 1981–1989, where he was ordained by Jerusalem’s Rabbinate. Rabbi Praver was also trained to be a professional Cantor at the Israeli School of Cantorial Art in Tel Aviv. Additionally, Rabbi Praver studied at Ohr lagolah which prepared him as an educator, public speaker, community rabbi and pastoral counselor. Rabbi Praver is known as the Spiritual Leader of congregation Adath Israel of Newtown, Connecticut. Rabbi Praver has founded the national organization Global Coalition for Peace and Civility to address violence in the United States. Also, he serves the State of Connecticut as a Prison Chaplain. He was awarded the Samaritan Medal for Peace and Humanitarian Achievement in 2014, and was named Letter Writer of the Year Award by CAMERA in 2007.
Christopher Tate is the Dean of Middle School at Porter-Gaud School in Charleston, South Carolina. He is also the Head Junior Varsity Football Coach of 14 years. Chris holds a Bachelors Degree in Sports Administration from the University of South Carolina, and is currently completing his Masters in Educational Leadership at George Washington University. He directs all Porter-Gaud Middle School student life programs. His creative and innovative approach to co-curricular and student life programs, such as Life 101, a weekly character development curriculum that focuses on
non-cognitive skill development for grades 6–8, sets him apart as an educational leader. Chris also created a middle school non-profit with the assistance of middle school students called Bicycles for Humanity-Charleston. Bicycles for Humanity-Charleston empowers students to make a difference in the lives of others by collecting used and new bicycles and shipping them to Africa where they provide life-changing transportation to water, food, healthcare and education for those who live in extreme poverty. He is married with two children and resides in James Island, South Carolina. His wife Gretchen is the Director of Community Service Programs at Porter-Gaud School as well. Together the share their passion developing young people to be successful in school and in life.
Reverend Stephanie Taylor is an Episcopal priest with a master of divinity degree from The General Theological Seminary and serves as chaplain of St. Martin’s Episcopal School in Atlanta. She previously served as a youth minister, interim canon for youth and young adult ministries in the diocese of WNC, and was the director of the diocesan camp, Camp Henry. In addition to serving as a school chaplain, Stefanie works alongside her husband, Dr. Arthur Taylor in the field of integrative spirituality and positive psycholog y. The Taylors’ work includes the nature of forgiveness in marriage and family life, modern manifestations of altruism, character education and development, emotional growth in children and teenagers, family relations, self-esteem in youth, and the development of empathy.
John Turner is the Head of Middle School at The Foote School in New Haven, CT. John graduated from Dartmouth College with a degree in English and holds a masters’ degree in educational administration from Seton Hall University. Now in his sixth year at Foote, John leads a team of educators that fosters a community of respect and kindness, values each individual child, and balances the development of non-cognitive skills with deep and lasting learning experiences. Before arriving at Foote in 2010, John taught at the Severn School near Annapolis, Maryland, for sixteen years, serving for the final six as the school’s Academic Dean; in this role, he led the school’s efforts to develop a new twenty-first century curriculum, to open a learning center to meet the needs of all students, and to create a student leadership training program.