The Primary School Team
Teachers at The Nature School Primary are innovative, knowledgeable and passionate educators. With a range of interests spanning permaculture, native flora and fauna, sustainability and the arts, every staff member brings a unique edge to their teaching practice. Primary teachers at TNS are as comfortable in the bush as they are in the classroom - which is important because teaching and learning happens indoors and out every day!
Meet The Staff
Catherine Oehlman - Head of Primary
Catherine is the founding Head of The Nature School Primary. She is an accomplished educator, writer, poet, and self-confessed bird nerd. During the last twenty years she has taught all grades across the Primary School in NSW and QLD, as well as in the UK. She is also experienced in Gifted and Talented education, Primary Curriculum, and Professional Learning. Catherine regularly contributes to a range of publications online and off, presents at conferences, reviews picture books, and writes poetry for children. Currently undertaking post-graduate studies in Children’s Literature, she advocates for the use of quality Australian literature and has an enormous collection of nature related books. She is passionate about Australian wildlife and habitats, and believes education about our unique endemic species is key to their protection and survival. When she isn’t writing about teaching, or teaching about writing, Catherine is probably bushwalking with her two children or chasing endangered Swift parrots with her camera.
Matt Dooley - Teacher
Matt joined the team in 2019 on the back of a three-year adventure at the Green School, Bali. A keen environmental educator with an interest in holistic, meaningful, child-centred education, Matt is excited about joining a like-minded community and honoured to be a part of the growing TNS team. Over the past two decades, Matt has held roles as a Primary Mathematics Specialist, Primary Enrichment Coordinator, and Primary Head of Science & Technology in prominent Australian independent schools; worked in the field of adult education whilst teaching English in London; and applied his learning as a Teacher Training and Support Officer for the Ministry of Education, Ghana, through VSO International and Australian Volunteers. He has also been kindly honoured for his contributions to environmental education and sustainability. Matt is seldom happier than when learning something new or putting that knowledge to good use.
Roy Fleissgarten - Teacher
Roy graduated from a Bachelor of Teaching/ Arts in 2011 at the University of Newcastle and also completed further studies in Community service work. Being one of the founding teachers of The Nature School, he considers it a privilege to be part of something really amazing. Roy loves working in small community schools enjoys being able to work collaboratively with the wider community. He has a passion for all things creative, and loves using what is given to us in nature. A keen gardener, he takes pride in watching things flourish and trying new planting techniques. For Roy, The Nature School Primary is a place of learning, growth and fostering change.
Jessica Foulkes - Teacher
Jess currently teaches kindergarten at The Nature School Primary. She began her career as a teacher in 2012 after graduating with a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Education. Jess was drawn to The Nature School’s ethos of sustainability and environmental education. She holds a strong passion for being in nature, conservation and sustainable living practices. She currently resides in a bus, living off-grid and is continually taking steps to tread lighter and reduce her impact on the environment. Jess is a budding permaculturalist and spends her free time tending to her vegetable garden and using her produce in her outdoor kitchen.
Meridith Ebbs - Teacher
Meridith joins us with over 20 years of teaching experience. She is excited to have an
opportunity to apply her Science knowledge in Land Management, Biology and Ecology in
the classroom. Meridith has lived reduce, reuse, recycle since her teens and is passionate
about proactively protecting the environment. She is experienced in teaching with digital
technologies, after 4 years on a national project with the University of Adelaide, facilitating
learning for teachers in the implementation of the mandatory digital technologies content.
Meridith is looking forward to exploring opportunities to use digital technologies to learn
about nature and protect the environment. In addition, she is interested in gifted and
talented education and improving the participation of girls in science and technology. When
she is not teaching, she enjoys relaxing with family and friends, travelling and dining out.
Jemma Wilkins - Teacher
Jemma, our history buff and ‘drama-queen’, joined the team in 2020 after completing her Master of Teaching (Primary) at CSU. She previously completed a Bachelor of Art Theory/ Bachelor of Arts Honours at UNSW in 2008 and built a career around her love of art and cultural history, with a pinch of amateur theatrics and historical re-enactment thrown in. Jemma’s passion is in bringing cultural heritage to life by celebrating peoples’ relationships with natural and built places through literature and the arts. She enjoyed a career with the Historic House Trust of NSW (now Sydney Living Museums) in Sydney before heading to the UK to work for The National Trust, developing cultural programs and activities in woodlands, gardens and heritage listed sites. After travelling as far and wide as she could, Jemma missed the stunning colour palette of the Australian landscape and so returned to her hometown of Port Macquarie to raise her young family. She can often be found trekking a nature path by one of our pristine beaches or indulging in a historical novel.
Shannon Kelly - Teacher
Shannon is well known as a local eco-warrior, having coordinated Boomerang Bags in Port Macquarie as well as being part of the founding chapter of Seaside Scavenge (Port Mac). She brings a sustainable approach to her teaching and helps even our youngest students to speak up for the environment. Shannon is passionate about living sustainably, reducing waste, gardening, weaving, bushcraft, and connecting children to the earth and learning. With a Bachelor of Education (Early Childhood) and ten years experience across all primary grades, Shannon joined us in 2020. When she's not teaching, she is out exploring the world with her two young daughters, surfing, foraging for fungi and chasing waterfalls.
Kiah Fleming - Teacher Aide
& Aboriginal Education Officer
We are delighted to have Kiah joining our team in two different roles. Kiah is a proud Darug woman with a deep understanding of and connection to culture. She enjoys facilitating art lessons, yarning circles, cultural cooking, dance and history. Kiah is also an experienced Teacher Aide who finds working with children that have diverse needs the most rewarding part of her job. She is passionate about implementing strategies that not only provide an enhanced learning experience but build confidence and life skills.
Katwin Gibson - Teacher Aide
Katwin delights in the fact that she works at the school she wished for as a child! Ever-joyful, Katwin can be found supporting students in their learning play, or supporting teachers with their lessons. She loves being part of a dynamic team that celebrates and teaches children to be lifelong learners, to be self aware, to take responsibility for themselves, and to be custodians of our beautiful environment and stewards of the future. Katwin draws on soft skills from a business background to support the school during this exciting time of growth and innovation.
Karen Marlin - Business Manager
Karen Marlin joined the Executive Team in 2019 as our inaugural Business Manager – and we’d be lost without her! Karen holds a Bachelor of Commerce and is an experienced CPA in the education sector. For the past 18 years she has worked in Independent Schools in NSW. In addition to roles such as Head of Finance of a large school, Karen was instrumental in starting two new schools for Indigenous students on the Central Coast. This involved funding, registration, community engagement, land acquisition and Council DAs. She has served as a member of the Association of School Business Administrators (ASBA) National Conference Committee, and is currently the ASBA Regional Chair for the Mid North Coast. She has vast experience in strategic planning, financial management, government funding, risk and compliance, grant applications, IT system implementation, recruitment and HR, and financial modelling for multimillion dollar educational buildings. Karen’s skills and experience are invaluable as we grow The Nature School. A country girl at heart, the move to Port Macquarie has allowed Karen and her family to return to a more relaxed lifestyle out of the city.