Sea School Staff

heather kelday bio
Heather Kelday
Executive Director

After a 15 year long voyage working in the fields of experiential and outdoor education, Heather is still pushing the boundaries of her own journey as she joins the ranks of the Sea School as Executive Director. Heather spent her adolescence and teenage years at a summer camp in Ontario where she taught sailing, windsurfing and a variety of other outdoor pursuits. She credits her leadership style to the highly effective program her camp offered her to gain teaching skills, resilience, management skills and much more. . “Camp is about community . . . based in an outdoor environment and comprised mostly of youth . . . it helps young people find their voice and use it in preparation for their pursuits in adult life.”

This experience led her to pursue a career in outdoor recreation and she attended Lakehead University where in addition to mastering a variety of technical skills in paddling, climbing, hiking and winter travel, she also obtained a Honours Bachelor of Outdoor Recreation and a Bachelor of Natural Science. After obtaining her degrees, Heather entered the adult world working with her passion for musical performance and environmental education. She married these two loves and spent time traveling throughout Canada songwriting and working with youth around environmental issues.

Most recently Heather obtained her Bachelors of Education and moved to Nova Scotia in 2003 to establish a family in the Gaspereau Valley. She joined the Nova Scotia Sea School in 2007 and has worked as Program Coordinator and Instructor. She is excited to continue to nurture the organization and make experiential education accessible for everyone.

richard bio pic.jpg
Richard Leckenby
Captain and Head Wilderness Instructor 

As a child Richard always wanted to sail but opportunities were limited or non existent. As a teenager Richard immersed himself in river and mountain travel. When studying to become a teacher he explored ways of connecting school subjects to the natural world of land and oceans. He believes that high on a mountain peak or walking along a beach are unique places to explore the world around us and the impact humans have had on this ocean planet.

Eventually in the middle of the mountains in Northern England Richard crewed on a dinghy in a snow storm and he was hooked! Richard has instructed sailing, canoeing, mountaineering and wilderness skills in the UK and Canada, and became a Sea School instructor after the school's first instructor training course in 1995.

The impact of being with teenagers on a small open boat off Nova Scotia, or the winter wilderness, woods should not be underestimated. Richard feels privileged to see inner understanding; compassion and joy develop in the faces and eyes of his fellow crew and travelers whenever he does a Sea School trip. He believes in the Sea School because as an organization, we have worked hard to achieve our mission and provide opportunities to teenagers and adults from the full economic, social and cultural backgrounds represented in Nova Scotia and the word beyond.

C. Stookey wZ.jpg
Crane Stookey
Founder and Captain

Crane grew up by the water in New York and Massachusetts, sailing and rowing small wooden boats. Being near water always makes him happy. He discovered as an adult that being around teenagers makes him happy too. So in 1994 he combined these joys with the aspiration to do something useful and founded the Nova Scotia Sea School.

Crane has a Masters of Architecture degree from Harvard University and practiced architecture in Boston for 8 years. In 1990 he took time off to pursue his interest in the study and practice of meditation.

However after this Crane returned, not to his architectural practice, but to his childhood love of wooden boats and sailing. He served as deck officer and seamanship instructor on tall ships in the US and Canada, including HMS ROSE, PRIDE OF BALTIMORE II, CORWITH CRAMER and others, and earned his US Master¹s license as captain of sailing vessels up to 200 gross tons.

In 1994 he settled in Halifax, the best move of his life. He says that Nova Scotia is a sane and decent place, and that his life has really blossomed since moving here, and that the Sea School is the fruit of it.

In 2003 Crane was awarded the Queen's Jubilee Medal for the Sea School's contribution to the Canadian community.

Crane is now taking what he has learned at the Sea School into the business world, with his recent book, “Keep Your People in the Boat – Workforce Engagement Lessons from the Sea,” which is filled with Sea School stories.

D MacCulloch Picture
David MacCulloch

David MacCulloch is a native of Halifax, Nova Scotia and he grew up sailing in the Northwest Arm. He has been sailing for as long as he can remember as his mom and dad have always sailed. He joined the sea school as a student at the age of 15, doing boat building and summer sailing programs and he has been on trips with the Sea School nearly every summer since.  He has sailed all around the Maritime provinces, south to Bermuda and the British Virgin Islands. He worked his way up from a participant, to Leading Crew to Assistant Instructor, then in 2007, David graduated to a Sea School Captain and began leading trips.  He loves living on and around boats, teaching people how to sail and exploring the coast of Nova Scotia. 

evan bio
Evan Cervelli

Evan Cervelli became involved with the Nova Scotia Sea School as a student when he was fifteen. After many years and much learning he is now a captain. Evan appreciates the many life lessons which the Sea School has taught him and is excited about spending more time on the water for both work and play. Recently Evan worked for the Coast Guard Inshore Rescue which provided him with an opportunity to improve his seamanship and marine safety skills. Evan's educational background is Environmental Science and he is currently involved with the tidal power industry in Nova Scotia. Evan is excited about Nova Scotia's maritime traditions including the current manifestation of a vibrant marine technology industry. Evan is passionate about connecting youth with this growing industry and linking traditional sailing skills and philosophies with modern applications and opportunities.

Philippe Inacio-Goetsch
Assistant Instructor
Keegan Kerslake
Assistant Instructor

Keegan first came on a program with the Sea School in 2004 as a participant. He completed 4 sailing expeditions, both as a participant and as Leading Crew, as well as 3 wilderness trips with the Sea School and began working as an assistant instructor with the Sea School in the summer of 2009. He began working with youth through the Canadian Cadet Movement teaching music at summer camps and since then has become a Bosun in the Canadian Reserves. Keegan started sailing with the Cadet Movement, became hooked, and began taking Dinghy lessons at Dartmouth Yacht Club. Keegan is currently a music and history student at Dalhousie University. He maintains his boat skills through various courses with the Canadian Power Squadron, the Reserves, sailing with family and the Sea School.

Geoff bio pic.jpg
Geoff Beck
Assistant Instructor

Geoff grew up sailing in the Halifax area. He started racing at the age of 13 and competed locally and nationally. Despite an impressive resume of sailing victories which include a gold medal in 2005 Canada Games for the Laser Radial sailing class and a countless list of other medals and placements in laser sailing competitions all over North America, the Nova Scotia Male Sailor of the Year Award and the Nova Scotia Yachting Association Legacy Award, Geoff is an incredibly down-to earth guy and excellent instructor. Geoff will graduate this spring with a mechanical engineering degree from Dalhousie University and is Canada’s representative on the Sail Training International Youth Council. Geoff loves giving youth the opportunity 
to experience something unique with the Sea School; helping youth become 
more self confident and more aware of their potential through sailing with the Sea School is an experience unlike any other!

Sophia Hopkins
Program Recruitment and Logistics Coordinator
Phoebe Mannell.jpg
Phoebe Mannell
Assistant Instructor
Zoe Nudell bio pic.jpg
Zoë Nudell

It is with deep sadness that we let you all know our dearest friend Zoë Nudell lost her life in a serious car accident on the eve of October 30th 2013, in Hamilton, Ontario.

Zoë is regarded as the heart of the Sea School; she was a friend to so many of us and to so many young people. She had been a part of the Sea School since the very beginning as a founding builder of our first boat 'Dorothea'. She quickly became an instructor and then Captain and has impacted hundreds of youth on expeditions over the past 18 years. Our hearts go out to David Nudell (Zoë's father) and Ben Gallagher (Zoë's partner) and to all the friends and family who have known and loved Zoë.

Eight years after Zoë sailed as a student on Dorothea's maiden voyage out of Halifax, she guided the second expedition boat - Elizabeth Hall - through her maiden voyage, this time as an assistant instructor. This past summer was Zoë's sixth season as expedition captain. A lifetime of working with young people and the sea instilled in Zoë confidence, enthusiasm, respect and admiration for other people and the elements. The most valuable learning - the one she most wanted to share - was an awareness of one's own abilities, interests, and the satisfaction of being engaged.

Zoë's passion for leading sailing expeditions was matched by a love of art and encouraging creativity in others. She was most recently excited about working with the Sea School to explore the transformative power of creativity with community groups, and was working with our partnership program, The Spot.

Zoë, we love you and will miss you endlessly.

colin bio pic.jpg
Colin Guthrie

Over the last 18 years Colin has worked in the general area of health and human performance, specifically in the areas of leadership development and executive coaching, human factors and assistive technology, professional sport, sport psychology and experiential education. His focus is to coach elite performers in business or sport and lead them to deliver high performance under pressure and on demand. Colin has conducted research on the comparisons between novice and expert performers, the similarities between coaching elite athletes and senior business leaders, and the psychological make-up of professional sailors who compete in around-the-world sailing races.

In 2008, after spending time in the United States to finish his education and compete on the sailing circuit in the Etchell Class, Colin returned home to Nova Scotia with a vision to apply his knowledge and insight into developing a stronger and more vibrant business community in Atlantic Canada.

Colin earned a Ph.D. in Behavioural Studies/Kinesiology and a Graduate Certificate in Disability Studies from Temple University in Philadelphia (2008), and completed a Bachelor of Science and Master’s of Science in Kinesiology (Health and Human Performance) from Dalhousie University in Halifax. In addition, Colin holds an adjunct faculty position at Dalhousie University.

Colin’s recent clients in leadership development include Nova Scotia Power, Bangor Hydro and Electric, Nautel Ltd, Highliner Foods, First On Site Restoration, and the Canadian Sailing Team.

Colin volunteers his time with disability advocacy groups and remains active in the local sailing community. He promotes sailing at the grass roots level through club programs as well as not-for-profit organizations such as the Nova Scotia Sea School.

Colin resides in the Halifax area and enjoys an active lifestyle with his wife and two young children.

michelle bio pic.jpg
Michelle Howell
arista bio pic
Arista Holden
Katie BO
Katie Beck-Oliver
denma bio pic
Denma Peisinger
Assistant Instructor
lydia north bio pic
Lydia North
Assistant Instructor
mac petty
Mac Petty
Assistant Instructor

Sailor, surfer and lover of fun, Mac hails from the Great Northern State of Maine and is currently living in Santa Cruz, California. He graduated from Hampshire College in 2006 with a BA in psychology and education. His senior thesis explored experiential education as a means to provide modern rites of passage for adolescent males. He has worked in outdoor experiential education for three years. Outside of his time with the Sea School, Mac was an instructor for Outward Bound (OB) and the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). His work with Outward Bound dove tailed with his thesis and he developed a rite of passage program for boys ages 12-13 for Outward Bound. Working for Sea School, OB and NOLS, has given Mac the opportunity to sail around the coast of Nova Scotia, Massachusetts and Mexico. He is also a traveling wave-chaser, and has surfed in Central America, Australia, New Zealand, and Hawaii. He most recently returned from a delivery job, taking a boat through the Panama Canal to the Galapagos Islands.

Jake Wentzel
Head Wilderness Instructor
Chris bio pic.jpg
Chris Pyke
Assistant Instructor

Chris was born in Nova Scotia and has grown up with the ocean in his backyard. He spent his early summers playing in the woods and finding scrap materials to build rafts and watercraft. Chris first adventured with the Sea School in 2007 with the wilderness program, Take It Outside, and Chris soon found himself realizing childhood dreams of sailing with the Sea School. Chris recently completed the Baking Certificate program at the Nova Scotia Community College, and placed 3rd in the Nova Scotia Skills Competition for Baking. He also worked as an apprentice at Boulangerie La Vendéenne. Chris is now attending George Brown College in Toronto for culinary arts. Chris returned in 2010 as Provisions Coordinator and in 2011 as an assistant instructor in wilderness programs.

Pat Bannister bio pic.jpg
Patrick Bannister
Head Surfboard Building Instructor

Pat is the Sea School’s chief surfboard building instructor. He has run 3 Build Your Own Surfboard programs for the Sea School. Pat has built around 2 dozen boards, many through a painful trial and error process that the surfboard building course helps others avoid. Pat has almost completed his career goal of being all the things he wanted to be when he grew up. When not working he busies himself surfing, snow-boarding and planning to take over the world. He works with the Sea School as a way to learn, practice new skills, teach others a valuable skill and have fun!

ben bio pic
Ben Gallagher
Sea Change Art Instructor

Ben Gallagher moved to Halifax for love, and ended up loving sailboats too. He writes poetry, rides bicycles, and cooks often. He studied philosophy and literature in school, and after graduation has done work with GPI Atlantic, Heartwood Centre for Community Development, the Roberts Street Social Centre, Connections Clubhouse, and the Nova Scotia Sea School. He has a commitment to community-based projects, Do-It-Yourself living, and spending time outside. Above all, he believes that art encourages people to deeply engage with their lives, and wants to facilitate that engagement as often as possible.

kiersten bio pic
Kiersten Holden
Building Instructor

Kiersten Holden is a multidisciplinary artist and musician, with a focus in youth/community arts facilitation. She hails from the prairies of Manitoba, growing up in Riding Mountain National Park. In 2001 she completed an International Ecotourism Expedition & Adventure Leadership Certification from College of the Rockies in Golden, BC. She found her way to Halifax to study at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University, from where she received an Interdisciplinary BFA. She has been living and working in the North End of Halifax since 2002, and focuses her work around community arts, youth facilitation, and is passionate about the therapeutic effects of art and creative expression. She has worked collaboratively on creative community projects at St. Georges’ Youth Net, The Joseph Howe Elementary School, The George Dixon Center, The Ecology Action Center, and on Ironbound Island through Hands-On Projects, Etc (HOPE), The 4C’s Foundation, and The Nova Scotia Sea School. With a respect for the social, cultural, racial, and economic diversity of HRM, she is inspired to continue working with communities using art and creative expression as a powerful tool for personal and collective growth.

Zak Miller
Building Instructor

Zak has been with the Sea School for the past 4 years, acting as an instructor, program developer, and participant. Trained in Wilderness First Aid, Woodworking, and Shop Safety and hailing from Manitoba, Zak has focused on the ’dry land’ aspects of the Sea School. The lessons he fosters deal with the simple and the slow, the rewards of sticking to the plan, the importance of responsibility to the self; the patience accomplished after tooling your very own hand made Sea Chest that transfers into our everyday life; and the confidence that we build alongside the projects that prove to us we can do the things we have not done before.

Zak is a Public Educator and Program Coordinator for the Ecology Action Centre, an avid Capoeira practitioner, and a slam-hammering good time musician. Of all the things that make up his professional life, Zak’s principle focus is working with other people - especially youth - to help realize our potentials and our abilities to work hard and accomplish our goals.

sai sherwood pic
Sai Sherwood

Born and raised in England, Sai has been working in the field of outdoor education/recreation since 1997. He has worked with many different people in diverse settings; from leading 30 day wilderness expeditions for teens on the verge of serious trouble at home, school or in the community, to managing a high ropes course and climbing wall, to guiding dog sled trips. He has a broad range of international work experience, having worked in the U.K., Irish Republic, Italy, Switzerland, United States, and Canada. Sai is passionate about leading an active lifestyle and using active transportation when possible and promoting active living to others.

Nick Windt
Assistant Instructor

Nick is from Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia. “I unschool (kind of like home school) and live most of the time in a tipi on a farm with seven other people ranging in age from a few months to mid sixties.” He was introduced to the Sea School by Jake Wentzel, an instructor on Sea School wilderness programs, who lives on the farm.

He loves doing Sea School trips because the experience is so real; there's water, wind, cold and fog and there's no heated cabin where you can go when it gets miserable outside.

“At the Sea School I get to learn about navigation, reading the weather and sailing.”

As Leading Crew, Nick was referred to the tall ship Europa through the Sea Star program – he crossed the Atlantic during the 2009 Tall Ship Races and sailed around Nova Scotia, Maine and Prince Edward Island on the Tall Ship Virginia in 2008. He’s working towards becoming a traditional sailor.

Nick joined us as an Instructor in 2010 with the ' Take it Outside' march break trip.