Our Board

No nonprofit can exist without having a board of directors, but at Schoolhouse, we could not thrive without our dedicated board who gives tirelessly of their time, talent, and passion for kids. 

Board Officers

Co-Chairperson
Rebecca Dodder, Senior Physical Scientist/U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Pronouns: she/her/hers
Board Member Since: 2015

Rebecca serves on the board of directors for Schoolhouse because of the tremendous impact that Schoolhouse has had on her sons and family.  “I honestly feel that it has made us better, kinder, more empathetic people,” she says, adding: “As a bonus, we can also identify snakes and plants better than many!” 

What she most appreciates about Schoolhouse of Wonder is its people. Schoolhouse of Wonder is a camp where children learn and grow through exploration and play; her family keeps coming back to camp because the wonder and excitement continues year after year.  “It is all of the people at Schoolhouse, from the home office to sites across all three counties, that make this happen,” she says. Together, they create opportunities for wonder and magic that seem so natural and spontaneous, but require a tremendous amount of organization, programming, training, and planning. 

Rebecca felt so strongly about this, she jumped at the opportunity to see this organization grow and serve even more families in our communities, including families who might have financial or other barriers to attending camp.  She loves serving on the board because by supporting this organization, she feels that she can support other families to have this same opportunity.  And, she adds, “it doesn’t hurt that the board and staff are interesting, fun, and passionate people who are great to be around!”  

Rebecca also supports a number of environmental education outreach events through the EPA’s Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM) Outreach Program in Research Triangle Park.  As part of that program, she develops science-based games and interactive activities to help kids learn about energy, climate, and air quality. Rebecca was also a Citizen Teacher (8 semesters) through Citizen Schools, teaching about renewable energy and air quality. Originally from Colorado, Rebecca has lived all over, from Spain to Boston to Mexico City…but North Carolina is now home!

Considering serving as a board member?
Rebecca urges you to come with your ideas, excitement, open mind, and a sense of humor. She shares: “In our strategic planning, we are exploring how Schoolhouse will look 10 years from now, and we welcome new energy and excitement to our board.”  


 

Board Treasurer
Elyse Bernstein, Senior Health and Safety Specialist, bioMerieux
Pronouns: she/her/hers
Board Member Since: 2017

Elyse loves Schoolhouse’s mission of creating kind, curious, and confident kids, and the work that Schoolhouse does to truly live by this mission. As someone who previously worked in outdoor and environmental education, Elyse enjoys maintaining a connection to this field through her work as a board member for Schoolhouse of Wonder. She also enjoys working with her fellow board members, problem solving, and of course getting a chance to feel the Schoolhouse magic! However, she wishes that more people knew about the work that Schoolhouse does in our community to promote growth in kids, staff, and board members.

Elyse also previously served as Peace Corps Volunteer in Nicaragua, working in Environmental Education.

Considering serving on the board?
Elyse encourages prospective board members to jump right into projects. “Our board is small,” she says, “but that gives even our newest members a voice in our meetings and the work the board is engaging in.”


Board Members

 

Board Member
Janie Cooper, Environmental Engineer, Cree, Inc.
Pronouns: she/her/hers
Board Member Since: 2015

Upon moving to the area in 2013 for graduate school, Janie wanted to find a way to engage with the Durham community. She found that Schoolhouse’s mission embodied all those things that she feels are important in the word:  kindness, curiosity, acceptance, individuality, and appreciation for the natural world. While serving on the board, her favorite moments have been hearing stories of impactful scholarship experiences, and anecdotes of joy that come out of camps and field trips. She also appreciates that although Schoolhouse is a tight-knit community, everyone from staff to campers adds to an inclusive and accepting environment. In this environment, Janie says, “Schoolhouse allows room for kids to discover curiosity individually. They are allowed to touch, try, ask questions, and to be themselves.”

She also wants more people to know that Schoolhouse is a nonprofit that has been around for 30 years! Janie says, “We are conscious about hiring terrific staff, and ensure you see the same wonderful person for drop-off and pick-up. We also offer scholarships, to give everyone a chance at the Schoolhouse experience.”

Considering serving on the board?
“’Schoolhouse magic’ is a term thrown around occasionally,” Janie says. “You’ll understand what people mean as soon as you spend your first day in camp. Schedule that early in your tenure, and repeat it every year to refresh your memory with first-hand experience.”


Board Member       
Jen Costanza, Research Assistant Professor, NC State University Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources
Pronouns: she/her/hers
Board Member Since: 2018

Jen is a parent of two kids who are not yet old enough for Schoolhouse, and she can’t wait until they are old enough for camp! Schoolhouse’s mission of kind, curious, and confident matches the qualities she hopes to instill in her kids…and to her, playing outdoors sounds like the perfect way to spend a childhood. She loves that at Schoolhouse, differences are celebrated, and everyone is treated with kindness and respect. Kids can be themselves, run wild [with careful supervision], get dirty, while learning to appreciate one another. Jen serves on the board because she believes in Schoolhouse’s mission, vision, and values; and she enjoys working with and learning from the other board members, who are creative, imaginative, and hard-working.

To Jen, Schoolhouse is much more than an outdoor camp. Yes, it’s outside, but at Schoolhouse the outdoors is the setting for teaching kids self-efficacy, respect for others, and curiosity about the world around them.

Jen also volunteers as coordinator of student travel awards for her professional organization in landscape ecology, where she distributes grants to students so they can travel to present their scientific research at the organization’s annual conference.        

Considering serving as a board member?
Jen shares, “A little bit of your time can make a big difference to Schoolhouse! As a board member, your views and ideas are respected and valued. Please share some time with us, help out, and you’ll see that effort pay off really quickly.”


Board Member
Paul Mosca    
Pronouns: he/him/his/they/them
Board Member Since: 2015              

Why is Schoolhouse of Wonder such a special organization? To answer that question, Paul quotes Baba Dioum, “In the end we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught.”

Participating on the board for Schoolhouse of Wonder gives Paul the opportunity to learn deep leadership practices that are decentralized, self-aware, mature, and connected to community.

He feels that our nation and the planet are in a “moment of change,” and that we need a shift from the existing power leadership paradigm to fix the problems facing our planet. In his words, “we can do this by connecting people to the outdoors and teaching leadership principles of kindness, curiosity, and confidence.” Schoolhouse of Wonder provides paradigm shifting leadership experiences for the next generation.

Paul also serves as a volunteer with the Carrboro Arts Center Ceramic Center, the Marbles Kids Museum, and with WUNC Radio.

Considering serving on the board?
Paul advises spending a half a day at camp–choose from camps in Orange, Durham, and Wake counties. And, he adds, “Stay curious.”       


Board Member
John Offenberg, Senior Research Chemist, US Environmental Protection Agency
Board Member Since: 2016    

Schoolhouse of Wonder has helped thousands of Triangle children to grow, encouraging kind, creative minds through outdoor activity. As a board member, John enjoys helping build the organization and encouraging greater access to Schoolhouse across the Triangle. Why Schoolhouse? He loves that Schoolhouse instills confidence and freedom in children through artful outdoor activities. 

Considering serving on the board?
John encourages you: “Come give it a try.  There are great people here, doing wonderful work.”


Board Member
Christine Ogilvie Hendren, Research Faculty, Duke University Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Pronouns: she/her/hers     
Board Member Since: 2018              

Christine’s “work” work is in the area of complex, hard to solve problems of environmental risk, and she’s found that it’s been good for her soul to be part of an organization that focuses on loving the world. She appreciates that everyone at Schoolhouse of Wonder, from counselors to field staff to organizational leadership, is fully committed to the culture of educating the whole child in the wild. Conscious discipline is practiced, emotional development and creative freedom are prioritized, and the natural world is allowed to be explored for FUN. According to Christine, “My child glows when he is in camp. I love that children are welcomed to be children while falling in love with nature and storytelling.”

Christine serves on the board because she believes wholeheartedly that Schoolhouse of Wonder is creating healthy, joyous experiences for kids in an age where we really need more of those, and where we need a stronger connection with the natural world. She loves the diversity of thoughts and skills of the people on the board, the shared eagerness to reflect and improve, and the commitment to strive for equity in the organization and in the children it serves. “And,” she says, “we laugh a lot together! These are wonderful humans.”

Christine feels that while many people already know about the outdoor education component of Schoolhouse of Wonder, some may not realize that storytelling was also one of its original big ideas that continues to play a large role in camp, and she loves that storytelling is being handed down along with love for and knowledge about nature.

Christine also serves on the Board of Directors for Vantage Pointe Homeowners Association and is a seasonal volunteer with A Helping Hand senior companion care.         

Considering serving as a board member?
Christine hopes you like hummus! (Just kidding, though it will be a bonus if you do.) Serving on the board has been a great decision for Christine. Though she was worried that her plate was already too full and she wouldn’t be able to contribute much, she finds the monthly meetings are very fun and productive, and that commitments outside of board meetings are “as-you-can,” such as serving at information tables during the spring season when people are signing up for camps, or at fundraising events. She’s found those commitments have been fun and educational and have afforded her the ability to share Schoolhouse of Wonder with others.


Did you know? Schoolhouse of Wonder is 30 years old this year! 

We are excited to spend some time this year looking back at where we have been and continuing to forge our new path going forward.          

If you have a passion for Schoolhouse, find yourself telling anyone who will listen to you about how amazing Schoolhouse is, or have a skill set that you think can help in the many aspects of a non-profit organization, reach out to us!