Shelley is the founder of Wildflower School. She has worked with children since 1990 in a variety of roles, including teacher, tutor, nanny, and volunteer mentor. She received a MAT from Duke University and BA in English & Storytelling from Meredith College. 

Shelley is actively engaged in contributing to the creation a world-wide network of Reggio Emilia preschool educators and works to gather resources for those engaged in Reggio teaching. She is deeply interested in documenting, through photos and words, the learning of young children and making their thinking visible to themselves, their families and the community. She is also committed to creating a program which fully immerses families in the school environment. The 20/21 school year was Shelley's last year teaching children. She is now fully dedicating herself to directing the Wildflower School, training teachers and farming her

34-acre spot of heaven.

Shelley lives in Chapel Hill and actively works to create community wherever she goes through organizations such as the Red Boot Coalition. She and her partner Kevin are also fierce advocates of citizens' rights, and you can often find them at a local town council meeting! They also love color runs!

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Shelley Welch,
Founder, Educator

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Celia has a bachelor’s in theater education and has been working in the field of education for seven years. Her work has including teaching writing to incarcerated women and music to children. This past year, Celia was the sole teacher of a micro-school with five kindergarten students. She was responsible for all aspects of developing and facilitating this small K/1 education program, including end-to-end literacy as well as developing and implementing a nature and outdoor-focused curriculum.

She has worked as a farmer and farm educator for school groups. Even better, Celia knows how to drive a Kubota tractor! Celia will be a kindergarten teacher and Elementary After School Program teacher at Wildflower School at Belle Vie Farm.

Celia Lechtman,
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Emma Blackford,

Emma grew up primarily in the Pacific Northwest, surrounded by the everlasting green of conifers and the looming beauty of dual mountain ranges. She was the kid who would wake up early on weekend mornings to go bird watching on neighborhood paths, trying to put names to the organisms she was seeing on each adventure. From the PNW she headed south to California where she got a BA in Biology, then spent the last five years in Maine where she finished an MS in Biological Sciences and began work on an MS in Education. 


Over the years, Emma has worked with kids in a variety of childcare settings, but she really fell in love with teaching young people in an Environmental Education-based setting. She enjoys working with kids in settings where they let their curiosity run free, are willing to try new things, and where they watch with wide eyes to see what nature will offer them to explore. This inquisitive admiration and curiosity towards nature is something Emma is excited to see in the kids at Wildflower. 


Outside of work Emma can often be found observing the birds, going for walks with her dog, trying new baking endeavors, and spending time with family. 

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Emma is thrilled to be a part of the Wildflower School team! Originally from California, she attended the University of North Carolina Wilmington in 2015, earning a bachelor’s degree in Studio Art with a minor in Digital Art.


Since graduating, Emma has worked with children of all ages, from infants to adolescents. She has always enjoyed spending time with children, especially watching them explore and theorize about the world! She is excited to have the opportunity to build strong, long-term relationships with children at Wildflower. Emma's excitement about all things art is a wonderful fit for  our school and will support our students as they investigate the world and create beautiful art!

Emma Dunn,
Erica Joiner,

Erica is a third generation nurse who became a geriatric nurse practitioner in 2009 after almost a decade as an RN.  She was deeply impacted by the wisdom of the elderly and the “I wish I would have” regrets uttered by people of all ages at the end of their lives.  She left her medical work in hospice and palliative care six years ago when she and her husband, Rich, moved from her hometown of Madison, WI to Seattle, WA.  The birth of her first son, Junior, soon after the move refocused Erica’s life, and she realized that the greatest impact that a person can have in someone’s life may be at the beginning.


Erica and her family moved to NC in 2017 to be closer to family and live within nature rather than near it as they had in Seattle.  Wildflower provided that opportunity to be outside, and the Wildflower community has been an immense support to Erica’s family after the birth of their second son, Cookie.  Erica was drawn to give back to the community at the end of the 2020/2021 school year when she helped teach preschoolers during the last 3+ weeks with Shelley.  This experience reinforced Erica’s belief that children are incredibly competent as she witnessed a class of self-confident, kind, creative, joyful children who respected and embraced each other’s differences.


Erica and Rich recently started an organic garden business.  When she is not in the garden she enjoys hiking, going on long runs, reading, cooking, baking, watching old British mysteries, and spending time with family and friends.

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Jennifer recently moved from the west coast where she spent the past year living in Boulder, Colorado to attend the Boulder Journey School Teacher Education Program, which focuses on the Reggio Emilia approach to education and which includes a Master’s degree in Education and Human Development from Colorado University in Denver. She has taught young children for three years. The Boulder Journey is school a top Reggio Emilia school in the U.S. The school offers both the teacher training program as well as a preschool. She has also been actively involved in supporting sustainable agriculture.

Jennifer loves food and cooking with children, gardening, sensory explorations and building strong relationships with students, families and colleagues.

Jennifer Fischler,