Friday, October 07, 2005

SLOCA October Update: We're rolling!

Well, we are five weeks into our first trimester! It has been a great, eventful school beginning — so much has happened we can't believe it has only been just over a month. Here are some highlights of what has been going on at SLOCA:

• We have four wonderful classes that are jelling together
• Students are responding to the teachers, each other, the curriculum and their home schooling and are loving their work
• We have a new and dynamite monthly newsletter
• We've adopted a stylin' new logo
• We have a web site in progress
• We have our first fundraiser going on, working to raise money for classroom furniture
• We have four Academy Classes that our children our thoroughly enjoying - 2 levels of drawing classes, P.E. in the Park for K-1, and sign language.
• Our new systems are working and continue to be refined
• We are experiencing the beginning of a wonderful sense of community
• Field trips are being coordinated and we had our first one together at Avila Barn
• Our teachers are loving our children and growing in our classical focus
• All the paperwork for nonprofit status has been completed and sent off for approval

We think all this is pretty exciting for the school being only five weeks old! Thanks to those who have given your time, energy and hearts to make our dream a reality.

We are already planning for next year, and will begin opening registration in early March. In the meantime, keep up to date with monthly blogs and our web site, which will be announced as soon as it is up and running. As always, if you have questions, comments or encouragements, please call or email us.

Finally, if you are interested in the future of SLOCA, we'd like to invite you to join us during our first fundraiser. We are taking Pampered Chef orders through October 18th and will end with a SLOCA Pampered Chef party set for Monday, October 24th. We'd love to see you there! Time and place is yet to be determined, so if you are interested, please contact us and we will keep you posted. In addition, you can also visit the following web site:
Put in "SLOCA" when it asks for the organization name, and the proceeds will be directed to our school.


Susie Theule and Lisa Lewis

Saturday, August 13, 2005

08.12.05 Special Update

Hi all -

We thought some of you may be interested in knowing who our teachers are this year, and we are finally in a position to share this information!

This Fall we are delighted to be offering four classes: Kindergarten, 1st Grade, 2nd-4th Grades, and 5th-6th Grades. We are almost full in the 1st and 2nd-4th Grades, and are excited about the year ahead and about the teachers who have committed to partnering with us in the education of our children.

All of our teachers are outstanding educators with classroom experience in their assigned grade levels. They are all life long
learners and are excited about the vision and future of SLO Classical Academy. They are "naturally classical" in nature, and are already pursuing further education in this area. Each of them is a wife and mother who understands the need for balance of home priorities with work priorities. This desire for balance is what has helped us find these talented women who do not wish to work full time anymore. They are a perfect match for our school.

Laurie Ingham: BA in Education from Cal Poly; MA in Reading from Cal Poly. 16 years teaching experience in both public and private settings. Most recently 9 years of Kindergarten.

First Grade
Gail Kniffen: BA in Education from Cal Poly; MA in Curriculum and Instruction from Cal Poly. 21 years in education in both public and private settings. Most recently overseeing home school families through local school district.

Second through Fourth Grades
Donna Weber: BA in Education from UCLA; teaching credential from Cal Poly. 20 years in education in both public and private settings. Most recently teaching specialty classes to home school students.

Fifth and Sixth Grades
Barbara Hawkins: BA in English from Cal Poly; multiple subjects and english credentials from Cal Poly. 12 years in education in both public and private settings. Most recently tutoring home school students.

We will continue to accept new students, even after school starts, until each of this year's four classes are full. We hope you find this information helpful, and wish you all the best as you each pursue your children's education this year in the manner you have deemed best for your family. Please keep in touch!

Lisa Lewis and Susie Theule

"Education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire." --William Yeats

Saturday, August 06, 2005

SlOCA Weekly Email Update, 7/30/05

Friends of San Luis Classical Academy,

We can hardly believe it's the end of July! Where has the summer gone?

We are so excited to say that we are at 29 students! Our goal was twenty students to start the year. Now we have set a cap of 12 per class for the sake of space and management! We have only one spot in the 1st grade class and only two spots in the 2nd - 4th group. We still have room in Kindergarten and 5th - 6th. We have fabulous teachers waiting in the wings to work with all these wonderful children. Once again thank you all for speaking so favorably of what we are bringing to our community.

School Dates & Deadlines
The time to begin our adventure in school together is coming quickly! School commences on Tuesday, August 30th. We are so excited. On August 23rd, we will have our first "back to school" night to get out last minute details, information and to meet the teachers. For those families who have registered, plan to attend if at all possible! More details will come your way soon.

The first monthly tuition is due August 1st. Please send it to the address below if you haven't already done so. Remember, late fees apply after August 4th.

Nonprofit Work
We just received the hard copy of our IRS document allowing us to form a nonprofit corporation with the Federal government. This is good news to have received this document so quickly--only three weeks after the electronic notification of our acceptance. We are hopeful this bodes well for our nonprofit application approval. The faster this comes through for us, the better position we are in to get an excellent site

We will be addressing a list of twenty items which we must respond to quickly and thoroughly. The level of detail required is rather daunting until you stop to consider what we are asking the approval of; the running of a corporation without having to pay state or federal income tax, as well as being an entity that others can donate to and receive tax deductions. The potential for misuse and misappropriation is high and we want to be above reproach, so the details are essential.

Weekly Updates come to an end
Since we are at the end of July and ready to turn the corner toward the new school year, we have decided that this will be the last weekly update for all interested families. We need to focus our energy and attention on getting the year started and getting information to the registered families. We hope these letters have been helpful and informative for those of you who are still considering what your family's schooling situation will be this coming school year (and
beyond). Coming in September we will have our website up and usable and we're looking forward to that as well. If you are interested in keeping an eye on the school this year, please plan to make use of that web site! In addition, we will keep people posted on important information (such as the web site address) through the blog -

And as always, please don't hesitate to contact us with questions or concerns. We will continue to do our best to respond quickly.

Susie Theule and Lisa Lewis

Contact information:

San Luis Obispo Classical Academy
P.O. Box 3601,
San Luis Obispo, CA 93403-3601

Sunday, July 24, 2005

SLOCA Weekly Update, 7/21/05

Greetings to all,
I hope this finds you all enjoying your summer and hopefully finding time for reading, relaxing and renewal! Susie and her family are away this week. It is my family's turn next week. In spite of vacations SLOCA has had a productive week with many pieces of news.

We are pleased to announce our enrollment is now 25 students strong! We welcome the three children of the Scott Marcum family to our SLOCA family! We have only two spaces left for first grade and then we will need to establish a waiting list! We are still accepting applications and will do so until we reach our class size limit of 12. This is all happening via word of mouth, so thank you all so much for your enthusiastic approach to those you have in your circle of influence. We are really looking forward to this new school and school year!

School Site
We toured two potential facilities this week, each with pluses and minuses. Unfortunately we can't report that we have a site at this time, but we are making headway! We have also been able to follow up on other suggested leads. Again, please pass along to us any spaces that you become aware of that might work for our school even on a temporary basis.

As you are looking for literature titles, if you haven't already found this, Amazon will list sellers of a used copies of a particular title. I have had great success working with this method and saved a few dollars in the process. We have happily answered many curriculum questions either via email or telephone. I want to reiterate that we are happy to talk with interested families about what curricular choices we have made for the school. Please direct those you may know to our contact information found at the bottom of each weekly update as well as the blog.

The Feature Article this week-

How Much is Enough?
I have been asked a great question many times, "Are we doing enough?" More often than not those who have asked that question are doing more than "enough". Let's explore what might be an adequate measurement of what is enough when you are home schooling. First of all there are several considerations that we must identify. What is the age of your student (or students)? How much is enough varies from age and stage. Developmentally, enough is determined by focusing stamina. A young child usually has the staying power of 20 - 30 minutes per subject area. This focus time is not included in the time for a hands on project, it reflects their ability to attend through listening, their ability to process the information heard and retain it. If you planned a 20 minute period of instruction in one curricular area and then allowed about that much time additionally for an activity to reinforce the instruction, then you would want 30 - 40 minutes per subject for your time with that one child. Charlotte Mason recommends short, focused times of learning throughout the
various stages. I have found that to be best with my sons as well, even as they have grown older. We typically spend only the morning doing what one classical educator, Sally Clarkson, refers to as disciplined studies. These would include, math, language arts, science and history and Scripture (for those who study the Bible). The afternoon time is spent on discretionary studies such as art, music, crafts, building, and other pursuits in a particular curricular area. For example, our son loves to learn more in a subject area such as history, so afternoons are for reading the history encyclopedia or searching the internet for the recommended sites for the interest he is pursuing. Another consideration for knowing if you have been doing enough is the response of your students. Are they willing to work or are they over-whelmed with the amount or challenge of the material? The best skill a home schooling parent can develop is the skill of studying your students. You will learn if they are doing enough or if there is a character trait that needs to be developed such as diligence and perseverance. You will also know if they are desiring more than what you have been giving by the responses to the topics. Something else to consider is the reality of your family's season of life. Are you caring for a new baby, or for an aging or ill family member? What is enough may need to be adjusted to the various seasons of life. Keep in mind the core curricular areas of math, language arts, history, and science as you map out your time frames. Make time for those areas of study, perhaps trimming off time from other courses of study for a while until your available time is increasing. Sometimes forming a teaching co-op for a short period can help you with time management while you are being a care giver. All these elements are important considerations when you evaluate if you are doing enough. One important caution: don't compare your home school with another family. They are choosing their method and it may not fit with your student's learning style or age and stage. It saddens me to hear parents bemoaning what another family is doing that they are not. There are many ways to approach educating your children and the right way is the way your family has arrived at and feels peaceful about. This includes whether or not you choose to join a group or part time school like ours. The beauty of home schooling is that it can meet the needs of diverse students and families because it can be tailored in a variety of ways. Enjoy the journey!

We so appreciate all the great questions and suggestions that have been shared. Please keep them coming!

Until next week,
Susie Theule and Lisa Lewis

Contact information:
San Luis Obispo Classical Academy
P.O. Box 3601,
San Luis Obispo, CA 93403-3601

"Education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire."
William Yeats

Saturday, July 23, 2005

SLOCA Weekly Update, 7/14/05

Hello SLOCA Families-

It's Thursday, it must be update time! I heard someone say recently
"you'll probably address this in the blog". That was very encouraging
to know people are not only reading but are looking forward to finding out more! We do have many news items to share.

We Are Official!
San Luis Obispo Classical Academy is an officially recognized corporate entity at the state level! This is the first of three big steps toward becoming a nonprofit corporation at the state and federal levels.

Why Nonprofit if it's so much work?
We have been asked this question a few times. The purpose of going the extra steps to form a nonprofit corporation is to allow us to secure grants for curriculum, computer labs, special training opportunities for parent teachers and mentor teachers, and many other support services for the school. In addition, as a nonprofit entity the school will be able to receive donations for the ongoing benefit of program function and those who donate receive a tax deduction. These are long term goals but much easier to implement from the beginning rather than go back and reconstruct at a later date.

Intake Interviews
We have established an official parents with directors interview which each prospective family will attend. As we have been gathering data regarding how private schools function, one consistent point has been an initial interview between the parents and directors. The purpose of the interview is to discuss how both the school and family will implement the classical model, to discuss the SLOCA Code of Conduct and to clarify any questions that may have come up in the application process. This interview process also provides time for either the family or the school to reconsider the partnership with SLOCA. As a family indicates their interest in applying to the school, we are scheduling the interviews in August.

School Site Options
We had a great time meeting our many of our committed families on Tuesday evening. Of the many things we discussed our site need was a priority. There were many new ideas suggested and contacts are being made to follow up with the great suggestions. We're so glad to have such a great group of families! Hopefully we will have this site issue resolved soon!

School Size Limit
We have discussed how to best meet the needs of all the students who want to join us this year and we have decided to set a limit on the total number of students per class at 12. That means in first grade we currently have only 4 openings. If you know interested families, please encourage them to contact us soon. We are amazed at the number of calls and emails asking for more information about SLOCA daily. Thanks to you all for spreading the word!

The Feature Article this week is-
What is Home Schooling Like?
This is a question that has a variety of answers. For some it has added a wonderful dynamic to their family. For others (those of us over-doers!) it may add a lot of work. Allow me to explore this topic a bit for those of you who have not yet home schooled. I think of three F's when I think of a way to talk about home schooling, and those are not letter grades! Freedom, Flexibility, and Fun! These are ideas that really epitomize this journey for me. Freedom to establish a schedule that is conducive to the life of your family. Freedom to spend as much or as little time on a subject as you see fit. Freedom to skip to a different subject than you did at that time on another day. There are many more I'm sure that other home schoolers can think of as well. Flexibility is tied to freedom. But there is more to it as well. In home schooling your children you have the flexibility to adjust the instruction of a particular subject to meet the needs of your child. Let's use a math lesson for an example. You sit with your child and begin a lesson. As you are asking clarifying questions, you realize they understand the concept quickly. You have the flexibility to give them two or three skill practice problems to verify your observations, and once completed you can move on if you so choose. The final word for our family has been FUN! We have been able to spend time with Daddy when Daddy could take time off and not feel like we were shirking responsibility. We have built LEGO creations to represent the Pyramids, a castle, an oceanography unit and many other demonstrations of learning. We have done lots of math through baking together and of course eating together! We have been able to serve the needy at the Food Bank distribution site. I can go on and on. My point is home schooling is what your family makes it. We will be here to mentor you through the new adventure for your family and are looking forward to partnering with you in the journey.

On Curriculum:
We had a great resource mentioned to us that we want to be sure to pass on. is the web address. Their prices were consistently lower than other sites. It's worth checking out!

We so appreciate all the great questions and suggestions that have been shared. Please keep them coming!

Again, if you would like to be removed from this update list just email us to let us know and we will quickly honor your request!

Until next week,
Susie Theule and Lisa Lewis

"Education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire."
William Yeats

Contact information:
San Luis Obispo Classical Academy
P.O. Box 3601,
San Luis Obispo, CA 93403-3601

Saturday, July 09, 2005

SlOCA Weekly Email Update, 7/7/05

Hello SLOCA Families -

Time for another weekly update, and we have some exciting things to share with you!

We've Reached Our Goal!
We are so happy to announce that as of today, we have 20 registered students for this fall.  Our goal was 20, and we are thrilled we've reached it at this point in the summer.  We are confident we'll keep adding in numbers during the next 6 weeks.  Thank you again to all who have joined us and for those that have spread the word to interested families.  We are excited!

This week we have seven new families to welcome, including the Ronda's, the Pock's, the Olson's, and the Boughton's.  We'll share the other family names as we receive permission to do so.  There is an air of excitement amongst the families that is contagious, and we truly look forward to being partners with these families this coming year.

Class Distribution
Many are interested in how we will section off the various grade levels.  Let us share with you where we're at with this right now. This could change, as registration continues to add new students.  But for now, this is where it stands. . .

We will have one kindergarten class, one first grade class, one class of grades 2-4, and one class grades 5&6.  Our fourth grade may be added to the 5 & 6 rather than the 2 & 3 class.  That will depend entirely on the students who register.  Again our ideal is single grade level classes. There is still space in all classes, but enough to rely upon for sectioning them this way with the exception of kindergarten.  We definitely need more students to provide this grade level this year.  So far, we have two committed families, and will hold out through August for more kindergarten sign ups.  In the meantime, we continue to work with interested and qualified teachers in placing them in the most appropriate grade levels, but we are sure that Barbara Hawkins will be teaching the 5/6 class.

Parent/Director Meetings
One thing that will be occurring over the next few weeks if you have registered with us, or will register with us this year, is a 1/2 hour meeting with the directors of SLOCA, Lisa Lewis and Susie Theule. During this time, we will be working with parents in preparation for the school year making sure questions have been answered, helping parents understand further what to expect, and taking time to ask parents questions that will allow the upcoming year to be successful for all involved.  For those families who have already committed for this year, you will soon be receiving an email with dates and times that these meetings will occur.  Please don't stress about this! Meeting ahead of the school year is a common practice for private
schools, and will continue the process of getting to know each other - relationships we will all rely on in the education of our children.

Curriculum Lists, etc.
When a family registers for SLOCA, they receive a complete list of curriculum and required supplies.  We are happy to speak with those still considering the school about our curriculum, but are not offering the complete list until registration occurs.  Why?  We have spent hours working very hard to provide our students with a full, rich, researched curriculum.  While we realize curriculum choice is a definite factor in considering whether or not to register a student, we also realize that we want to protect at some level the investment of the families who have joined and of those who have done the research and planning.  Again, if you have specific questions, we are happy to discuss our curriculum over the phone.

Once a registered family receives the list, they are free to begin their shopping.  We are also working to keep required costs down, and this is reflected in our required curriculum list.  Shopping for home schooling supplies can be time consuming and overwhelming.  To aid you in this process, one of our moms put together a helpful list of online suppliers, which is listed below.  Some materials can be purchased locally (There is a home schooling supply store called The Parable in Paso Robles), which we always support, but many must be special-ordered, and for these, there are plenty of online resources. Here's the list our mom, Missy Grant, came up with (Thanks, Missy!):

1. Timberdoodle Co  A good resource with good prices.
2. Amazon   A good place to search for all books.  You never know until you look.
3. Love to Learn  A good source.  They almost always have stock.
4. Christian Books Distributors   They have some of the best prices on the web.
5. Great Home School Books (Sheperds) Good pricing.  Their site is a little confusing at times but they have a wide variety of curriculum.  You need to know what you are looking for, though.
6.  Ebay   For those who ebay.
7. Home and School Marketplace  (Christian Curriculum Cellar and Eagle's Nest Educational Supplies),
8.  Beautiful Feet Books   www.BFbooks   They are just starting to distribute their materials through other distributors.  They have great stuff, but you might be able to find their supplemental reading materials cheaper elsewhere.
9. Rainbow Resource Center, Inc.  A southern CA company who handles all the curriculum we need and has free shipping for orders of $150 or more.

There are many websites to find reading books.  Google a search and it will lead you to good prices.  The best place to learn of a product is to go to its website (ie) saxon, or Bob Jones University Press,Mcgraw Hill, Houghton Mifflin.  You don't have to buy from the distributor but you can read about the resource and price it.

Thanks to all who are working to make this school a reality.  For those of you still thinking about the school, we appreciate the difficulty a decision like this can be.  For those of you just now considering the school for your child/ren, there is still time to jump aboard!  And for those of you naturally gifted at sales, please continue to lead people our way!

And as always, if you'd like to be taken off our email list, just let
us know that through an email and we will gladly remove your name!

Until next week,

Susie Theule and Lisa Lewis

"Education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire."
--William Yeats--

Friday, July 01, 2005

SLOCA Weekly Email Update, 6/29/05

Hi everyone!

SLOCA is definitely moving forward and is becoming a reality! It has been an extremely encouraging week, both with sign ups, planning and feedback, and the short-term future of the school is now on solid ground. In addition, we've had many doors open and many people encourage us towards our long-term goals, giving us every reason to believe that this school will get stronger year after year.

This week we have several short updates and another great feature by Lisa Lewis. Be sure to read it all. Those of you still deciding on next year may find Lisa's article very helpful.

We are happy to report that our numbers went up from 9 to 15 this past week, and we couldn't be more delighted with the families that have joined our quest to offer our children a rich, wonderful education. That puts us 5 children away from our goal, and over halfway to our dream of 27 children this first year. We'd like to welcome the Montemurro family, the Allshouse family, the Oberts family, and the Palmquist family. There are two other families that have joined today and we are simply waiting for permission to share their names with you. Thank you to all these families for trusting in the year to come. We are looking forward to educating classically with you!

In addition, we have several others on the cusp of registering and are looking forward to hearing from them!

The deadline for the $50 registration fee is July 1st - this Friday. If you know you are going to register your child/ren, and can give us a definite "yes" by Friday, the $50 fee will stand. If you need more time to decide or if you are new to even knowing SLOCA exists, that's fine as well, but the registration fee goes up to $75 after July 1st.

Speading the Word
Some of the fun calls or emails we have received have been from people we've never met nor heard of. Thank you to all for spreading the word for us, and keep on doing it! We will accept kids all summer. The earlier the better for planning purposes, but we know that some families may need more time and some may not hear about us until later. The feedback from people about what we're doing has been wonderful. It motivates us to keep on keepin' on!

And Now, our Feature Article of the Week...

It is time to discuss why a partnership in education is beneficial. Many of you who are interested in SLO Classical Academy have been home schooling already. The thought of changing what you are already doing may not appeal to you, but I'd like to highlight the benefits to you of a partnership. As a professional educator I have had countless informal parent conferences over the tomatoes at Von's, on the side lines at baseball practice or waiting in line at a store. These conferences have often been with parents who know me as an educator but I have not been their child's teacher. You might think that odd but it's not really. These parents have wanted advice on homework, how to help reluctant readers or authors, ideas for helping with math, you name it. What they have wanted from me, and every other teacher I know, is support. We all need encouragement and new ideas as we work with our children, whether it is academic or otherwise. This support is a major component of what the SLO Classical Academy will be providing on an ongoing basis. The experience of working with many children and seeing the variety of ways that children learn and grow will be shared with you and your child/ren. You as the parent teacher will have a resource of information to focus on your child's learning experiences to help make the process as rich as possible. The partnership will also provide an additional learning environment for your child to experience with a very small group of students under the guidance and supervision of the mentor teacher. We will mentor your child through the education process and you through the teaching process. Our desire is to provide as much structure as each family
wants while also providing the parameters needed for continuity between home and school. We won't be telling you what to do every day your child is at home unless you want that much structure! We will however be available to you for those kinds of questions that you haven't had someone to ask, like "Am I doing enough?"

I am looking forward to this school year. We have many ideas that we are excited to implement! I hope you will join us in the partnership of education at SLO Classical Academy.

Susie Theule & Lisa Lewis

"Education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire."
--William Yeats--

Friday, June 24, 2005

SLOCA Weekly Email Update, 6/24/05

Hi Everyone!

We have a special section for you this week in our weekly update - Lisa Lewis has written for us on how SLOCA's in-school portion of the program will work with what some of you are already doing at home. The further along we get in our planning, the more detailed and clear our answers to some of your questions can get, and Lisa's article below is evidence of that. In the next couple weeks, we will address some of the hesitations people have before deciding that home schooling is an option. If this pertains to you, we encourage you to discuss your concerns with us or other parents you know who home

And now, a few other updates...

Parent Q & A
We had another rich and wonderful meeting at the Pollon's last night. It is good to see how concerned parents are about their children, their education, and the environment their kids will be in. People asked great questions, and we talked both from the head and heart about how SLOCA will work. There are no more parent informational meetings scheduled this summer, but we will plan another one in July if the need surfaces.

Registration Deadline
For all you waiting until the last minute to register your children for SLOCA, you have one week to take advantage of the lower $50 registration fee. After July 1, the fee will go up to $75. Spread the word!

We're Halfway There!
We currently have 10 committed students...half of our 20 student goal. We are hoping, though, for 27! Why 27? We'd love to see 7 kindergarteners start this fall on their classical education journey. Thus, our goal is 20, our dream is 27. A lot can happen in 2 months time (the time we have before school starts!)

What Else Do You Need To Know This Summer?
The curriculum list will be available for you July 1 so you can start shopping around and ordering your supplies for the fall. We're excited about the curriculum we've chosen, and you will find plenty of time to supplement it with your favorites. The school schedule will also be available in the beginning of July. We will commence this year on Tuesday, Aug. 30, and the schedule will follow the San Luis Coastal school district's schedule. We are planning a parent meeting for August as well, close to when school starts — the first of quarterly meetings for parent training, updates, etc. We will keep you posted on the date!

And Now, Lisa's Article...
A continuing theme in questions is, "How will the classroom/home connection work?" After attempting to answer a specific question with a hypothetical answer several times, I realized there is an underlying question that needs to be addressed. As a home schooling parent myself, I know the internal conflict that is going on; am I doing the right thing to consider having someone else teach my child? Let me attempt to speak to the hidden concerns in choosing to participate in a part time school.

First of all, our school does not take your place as the primary educator of your child. The teacher is there to assist you by
providing guidance and encouragement as well as the opportunity for your child to be in a different learning environment with a small group of learners. The types of learning that will take place in the classroom will not replace what you do at home but enhance it. The partnership of learning between home and school is the emphasis. Let's take history as an example. We will be using the Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer as our curriculum. The main book is in narrative format. The story will be read by you at home, on a schedule, coordinating with the activities and directed instruction in the
classroom. This is a simple example and not very thorough I realize. Next week's update will include a two week sample schedule for those of you who are visual in your learning style as I am.

Another of the underlying concerns that I believe may exist for those families who are already successfully home schooling is that you like what you are using as curriculum and you may not want to change. It is easy for me because what is on the required list is what I have found to be successful personally. We will have a required curriculum list and a supplemental list. The reasoning is twofold: one, to provide continuity between home and school and two, to provide a common framework to springboard from. This is where the supplemental list comes in. Say for example you are really sold on a particular spelling program. You will have plenty of time on your three days of home school to continue using your different program. What goes on in the classroom on Tu/Th will not necessarily add more work for your child but simply provide learning experiences/activities and lessons that will complement what is being done at home. We do not intend to have any "homework" from school but rather a continuum of learning skills and information that mesh between home and school all following the Classical model as set forth by two outstanding educators, Charlotte Mason and Susan Wise Bauer.

If you have done any reading regarding their approaches you will notice that they are not identical in form. Not to worry for the contradictions. Both approaches have validity. We will use their perspectives and suggestions as guides to us as we continue to establish the unique approach of SLO Classical Academy. We also will maintain as a reference the California State Standards for the individual grade levels. You may be thinking, "How can all these individual tools come together?" I liken this process to planning a trip. You may reference only one type of map to get to your destination and as long as you get there then no problem, right? But sometimes other maps have additional references such as historic sites, parks, and other places of interest. Making reference to this additional map has just enhanced your traveling experience. To follow the analogy, not every time you travel to a destination do you have the time or need for scenic side trips, but it is nice to know they are there if you should choose to enrich your trip. This is the value of several references, and the value of supplemental curriculum. I am certain there are additional questions that may come up for you even as you have read through this article. I want to encourage you to send those questions to us and we will address them as quickly as possible. It has been very exciting for us to hear the thoughtful questions and concerns and to have opportunity to address them. We are looking forward to this school year with those of you who are willing to join us in partnership in the educating of your children!

Until next week...

Susie Theule & Lisa Lewis

"Education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire."
--William Yeats--

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Welcome Grant & Montemurro Families

We are pleased to welcome two new families to SLOCA!

David & Missy Grant have committed to enroll Jacob (1st grade) and Joey (5th grade).

Mike & Kristina Montemurro have committed to enroll Soleil (1st grade) and Francesca (Kindergarten).

Thanks for jumping in and early! Welcome aboard!

That brings our enrollment total to 9 students, which means we are nearly halfway to our goal of 20 students for the Fall!

Who's next?

Responses to Recent Questions

As many are considering the possibilities of SLO Classical Academy and whether or not its a good fit for their family, we are encouraging questions and ongoing dialogue. We sure don't have all the answers, but are delighted to answer the questions we can. Our desire is to be flexible and open and work with interested families to make SLOCA work for you. Here are some recent questions from a family considering a commitment to SLOCA and our responses at this time. Perhaps, these are some of your looming questions. . . .

1. How is the home-study portion structured?  Is the home-study homework or is it new material that we as the parents would be teaching our children? Are the parents the primary educator or is SLOCA?

It is our plan that the home school portion will be a collaborative effort between classroom and home. By that I mean they will not be two separate learning experiences but a blending of the two. The different subjects will be instructed in class by the teacher and then suggested activities, readings, or other methods to progress will be presented to the family by the teacher. This will be done on an approximately two week basis, giving opportunity for 4 class times with students and 4 days of learning at home before the teacher and parent meet to review and to plan ahead. Since learning takes place at varying rates for every child, this is a relative example. There may need to be more interaction between parent and teacher
or there may not. But the two week time frame will be our guideline. The material to be presented will vary from subject to subject as to whether or not it will be all new each time or reinforcement of what was taking place in the classroom. The work at home is not intended to be simply "homework".

2. How is testing going to be handled? 

If you mean the ongoing assessment of what has been learned, that too will depend on the subject matter and age of the learner. Some assessment will be oral, some through a project, some written as a summary format, sometimes a paper/pencil quiz. If you mean standardized testing, we have not determined if we will use a normed reference test for our students.

3. How will class work be organized? 

The methods of organizing school work have not been finalized. The teacher will establish a list of materials for the classroom, including the method of how paperwork will be kept orderly.

4. How much flexibility for individuals to go at own pace? 

This is a tough question to answer for two reasons. As a practitioner I know how challenging it is to have a student who has worked ahead in a particular book and then is twiddling their thumbs while the other students catch up. As a parent I know how deflating to learning the waiting can be So here's my best two hat response: working ahead in the required curriculum will be discouraged for the sake of both sides, but working ahead in parallel suggested curriculum will be encouraged as that will bring a richness to the learning for both student and classmates.

5. How do we get the kids at the same stage when school begins (private school, public school and home school kids all together)?  Will there be an evaluation period before school starts?  Is that necessary?

If getting students to all be in the same place academically was possible, I would market the methodology and retire! It is not necessary to try to "get the students" to be in the same stage. The teacher will do some informal evaluations as the year begins. We are hoping to have a measurement tool for incoming Kindergarteners and First graders, but that may not be in place for this first opening!

6. Will parents be able to travel and school there children on the road without missing out too much?

Every effort will be made to integrate the learning that takes place away from the classroom. We took our boys on a two month trip around the U.S. They learned and experienced so much they still talk about the trip four years later. I believe there is no replacement for actually experiencing a location that has historic significance. There will still be the financial commitment to the school during the time away though.

I have made an effort to address each of your very thoughtful questions. If you need clarification or have additional questions come up, please let me know.

Thanks for your interest in SLO Classical Academy!


Thursday, June 16, 2005

SLOCA Weekly Email Update, 6/16/05

Here's SLOCA Weekly Email Update #2, sent June 16, 2005. . . .

Hi all! We're excited to be sending our second weekly update! If you know anyone who'd like to receive these emails, please send us their email address. If you'd rather not receive these, let us know that and we will get you off our list.

Well, we continue to work towards San Luis Obispo Classical Academy's opening this fall. As we move through the lengthy and involved process, we are learning a lot about schools and businesses, and continue to grow in excitement about what the school will be like this year and in years to come. Classical education continues to draw our loyalty, and the concept of coming alongside parents in the education of their children in the unique manner we are offering continues to motivate us.

Q & A Meeting only one week away!
We'd like to remind you about the Q & A meeting we have scheduled for Thursday, June 23rd, 7:00 p.m. at the home of Joe and Betsy Pollon. We have wonderfully rich information nights on May 23rd and June 6th, and look forward to another great evening on the 23rd. Please feel free to join us to further clarify answers to your questions, and please invite anyone who may be interested in SLOCA! If you are unable to make this evening, please do not hesitate to ask us your questions through an email or phone call.

Who is this Mystery Teacher, anyway?
We have mentioned that one woman has agreed to teach at the school this fall, but have yet to mention a name. Well...(drum
roll)...Barbara Hawkins, a teacher known and admired by many, is excited to join us in our endeavor to offer an excellent educational option to you. Barbara brings 11 years of teaching experience to the table, is versed in classical education, and has spent time teaching home schooled children. In addition, she is a lifelong learner (she recently enrolled in Latin with some students!) and is a great, energetic role model for our children. She will offer us all helpful skills and expertise, and will respect parents' desire to be very actively involved in their children's education. What grades will she teach? Not sure yet! That depends upon enrollment numbers.

Registration Deadline
We have set July 1st as the deadline for registration for the fall. If you need the necessary forms, please let us know and we will get those to you. What will reserve your child's spot at SLOCA is the $50 registration fee and the completed forms. We are happy to assist in any manner possible. If you are unable to register by this date, the registration fee will go up to $75 to cover additional costs related to late registration. We encourage you all to register as quickly as possible as we work to plan out the upcoming school year. The more time we have to plan, the stronger the year will start.

Meet the Board of Directors
We had another full and productive board meeting this past Monday evening. And we promised to let you know who the board members behind SLOCA are. The are 5 members, each bringing unique expertise and input to the board and the school. They are, in no particular order:

• Ron Johnston - Ron is the member of the board that brings years of business experience to the school. He is a visionary, and has successfully started and been involved in his own businesses and larger corporations. He also brings experience being on boards to the school, helping us utilize our time and energies productively. Currently, Ron is President of Johnston Systems, a business consulting firm specializing in Internet marketing. He's partner in a San Luis Obispo company, Parable Interactive, which provides online stores for hundreds of Christian stores and ministries nation-wide.

• Stephanie Valliere - Stephanie is a long-time SLO resident, and a woman who has cared about education both for her own children and for the community for a long time. She has successfully brought 3 children through their primary and secondary education, utilizing private, public and home schooling. She has been a support to the founders for two years, adding her own passion and community connections to help keep things moving along.

• Anne Schwab - Anne brings a unique background to the board. Not only did she work as a secondary teacher for 25 years, she was an administrator for 10 years and retired as a successful principal of a large high school in the L.A. area. Anne is greatly respected for her work as a principal, and has proven herself as a wonderful administrator and leader. Anne has also written many successful grants, and is willing to help us secure grants in the very near future!

• Lisa Lewis - Lisa brings 24 years of teaching experience to the board, in public, private and home schooling settings. She is widely respected as a teacher and is committed to her own lifelong learning. Lisa has spent hours becoming versed in classical education and has used classical methods in her teaching. Lisa is one of the founders of SLOCA, and continues to work hard keeping the vision alive and perfecting the model.

• Susie Theule - Susie brings years of education to the board and an ongoing, passionate commitment to classical education and the SLOCA model. She also has spent hours researching the classical method and has home schooled her 2nd grader using this approach this past year. Susie holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and is currently using her brain power (or what's left of it after 4 pregnancies!) towards getting a classical school option happening in SLO. She is also one of the founders of SLOCA.

So...that's our board. Any questions?

Have you accessed the blog yet? All the information in our booklet is available on the blog, and these weekly email updates are posted as well. Until we get a web site up and going, please refer to the blog - and refer others to the blog! - for information about the school. Thanks to Tim Theule for his time setting this up!

The address for the blog is

Are you Ready to Go?
We're ready for you to join us! There are many issues people are working through before committing to SLOCA for this next year. We want to assure you, once again, that we are deeply committed to your family having a rich, wonderful experience next year that will far out weigh whatever it is you fell you might have to give up. We are convinced that this model will serve your educational goals as a family, not disrupt them. We are excited to see who registers as a part of this school, and we have big plans for the future. More on that next week!

Until next week...

Susie Theule and Lisa Lewis

Education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire.
--William Yeats--

Friday, June 10, 2005

Volunteering at SLOCA?

Parents are vitally involved in school life and are expected to contribute in every way possible to see that their children receive a superior education. SLO Classical Academy, especially during early years, is dependent upon parent volunteer time. We will require 6-8 hours per family per month. Ample opportunities will be available to allow completion of this requirement, and will include time in the classroom, secretarial/clerical hours, coordinating and chaperoning field trips, fulfilling administrative needs, teaching an elective, and other needs as they arise.

Upcoming SLOCA Dates?

Registration for current SLOCA families for the school year 2006/2007 will begin February 1, 2006 and open registration for new families will begin March 1, 2006. We will not be holding spots for any student before these dates. Other dates for that school year are yet to be determined, and will be posted as soon as they become available!

Where does SLOCA meet?

We currently meet in four San Luis Obispo homes, but are actively searching for an adequate facility to house all our classes.

What is the SLOCA curriculum?

Curriculum must be ordered on your own. A list of required curriculum will be made available after receiving the registration fee. We encourage you to shop around and check out internet resources, which will also be attached to the curriculum lists. Often, good used items are available. In addition, a list of suggested supplemental materials will be provided at the same time. This includes curriculum we recommend for a classical education for subjects not addressed in the classroom, as well as recommendations for materials helpful in supplementing the study of certain areas and subjects. We will also provide a recommended “good books” list for students and families to gather for free reading.

SLOCA costs & tuition?

There will be a yearly non-refundable registration fee of $50.00 due July 1 and a fee of $75.00 thereafter. In addition, there will be a tuition cost per student that is determined the February before the following school year. This pays for teachers, facility and administrative necessities (i.e. copies). At this point, we are regretfully unable to offer sibling discounts. Payments are due by the 5th of each month, beginning in August, and ending in June. There will be a late fee of $25 if payment is not received by the due date.

A typical week for a SLOCA family?

Students grades 1-6 attend school Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:30-1:30. Four of these hours students will participate in class, and the other 60 minutes students will have free time for fresh air, a snack and lunch. Kindergarten children attend class from 8:30-11:30.

Students will participate in home study Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Teachers will provide assignments in the four core subjects on Mondays and Wednesdays, with ample time for studies in addition to these four subjects. Fridays have been set aside for parent-teacher conferences and coaching, which will occur one time a month per family. In addition, additional special interest workshops called Academy Classes will be available on Fridays during various times throughout the year, such as science labs, art, sign language and cooking. These offerings will be dependent upon availability of qualified parents or those in our community available to teach. There may be a fee for these classes if necessary.

Who will SLOCA serve?

SLO Classical Academy opened in fall of 2005 with 30 students in four classes: kindergarten, 1st grade, 2nd/3rd/4th grades, and 5th/6th grades. In the future, our goal is to offer at least one class per grade level. In addition, we would like to offer both 7th and 8th grades by fall, 2006.

SLO Classical Academy accepts students throughout the San Luis Obispo county. We admit students of any race, color,national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programsand activities generally made available to students. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin in the administration of its educational or admissions policies. All families who wish to attend SLOCA must fill out completely the registration packet and attend a private interview with the directors to arm appropriateness for program academically and behaviorally. Parents must be in agreement with the mission and vision statements of SLOCA, and they must be able to offer home instruction three days per week.

Is SLOCA a religious school?

A specific religious affiliation is not a distinguishing characteristic of SLO Classical Academy. It is our desire to provide an excellent educational option to all families of the Central Coast, regardless of religious affiliation. However, the classical education model is often infused with Christian tradition as well, as the methods used have roots in Christian education centuries ago, and as world history is also rich in Christian content. Therefore, while curriculum is chosen based upon its ability to reach the educational standards and goals of the school (not for religious orientation), we will make no apologies for occasional content that is distinctively Christian.

What's special about SLOCA?

While our classical focus is the primary distinguishing characteristic of SLO Classical Academy, there are several other items that provide for a unique learning setting.

· A set classical curriculum for in-school and at-home settings in four core subjects (math, language arts, history and science), providing parents with helpful structure to make learning fun and successful.

· A suggested curriculum for studies at home in addition to the core subjects.

· Small classroom size (up to 12 per classroom).

· Focus on each child, allowing for curriculum and assignments to be tailored to child’s interest, abilities and learning style.

· Trained, credentialed teachers who demonstrate a passion for learning and creativity and will ensure that students attain the highest achievement possible within family goals.

· Focus of character development, which naturally unfolds in the context of classical curriculum.

· Strong parental involvement that takes place not only through in-home instruction, but through required volunteer hours at the school (around 6-8 per month).

· The encouragement of “classical home” where reading, creative playtime, interaction, and observation of the world around us is encouraged. Too much time watching television or playing video games is discouraged. Teachers are instructed to respect family time and assign only relevant and necessary homework in keeping with the grade level guidelines.

· The offering of additional special interest courses one day a week.

· A school which is child and curriculum focused rather than test score focused.

What is SLOCA?

San Luis Obispo Classical Academy is an exciting educational alternative in the Central Coast area. It is distinguished by a classical education accomplished within the best of both in-school and at-home learning environments. Our mission is to assist parents in their goal of developing thoughtful and exemplary young men and women who possess analytical thinking skills, solid character, and a passion for learning, all built upon a strong foundation of knowledge.

It is our desire to unify the benefit of excellently trained teachers with stimulating classroom experiences, and the richness and flexibility of home schooling. Students will learn from trained, credentialed teachers 8-10 hours per week, which will provide both structure and professional education. Students will spend those same hours per week with other students, where the Socratic method of open discussion format will be employed. In conjunction with this in-class experience, students will also be provided with home education. This allows education to be more personally tailored to each student, it allows families great flexibility in scheduling, it allows greater flexibility in educational choices, and it allows students to receive valuable input from and training by their parent/s. Each family will be matched with one of the teachers for ongoing guidance and coaching to insure that the in-home piece of the child’s education is successful and that the parents feel supported.

What is Classical Education?

Although the expression “classical education” is often an unfamiliar one to families in this day and age, it is a time-tested educational approach dating back to ancient Rome which achieves academic excellence by laying a firm foundation of language and math, training students to think clearly and critically, and to eventually express themselves effectively through both verbal and written means. A strong foundation of learning will be pursued through content-rich classical education methods, which will be followed both in the classroom and at home.

Classical education in founded on the concept of the Trivium, or the three stages of education. Each stage has a method of education which is developmentally suited to the age of the students, and which builds on the previous stages.

The first stage is the grammar stage, which occurs during grades K-6. It is this foundational stage that SLO Classical Academy currently emphasizes. During this stage, the child’s mind is like a sponge, eager to soak up facts. Thus, curriculum is chosen which is filled with hearing and reading stories, memorizing poems, learning spelling rules, chanting math facts, and learning about characters from history. While the program is often rigorous, learning these facts, however, is not dull, as the methods used to teach them focus on creative teaching and students’ natural interest in the world around them. The goal is the mastery of the fundamental skills of reading, writing and math, wed with a broad introduction to music, art, science and history. In addition, students will be encouraged to study Latin with a recommended local teacher.

The grammar stage is an important time in a child’s development, as it will lay the foundation for the rest of their academic career and life. Mastery of the fundamentals can be hard work, yet done well, children love it, and will more deeply develop their love for learning as the skills they are acquiring continue to open up the world around them. In order to accomplish this, we also incorporate some of the specific learning methods of classical educator Charlotte Mason. It was Mason’s belief that each child is valuable, and must be taught and respected as a person. She believed that language was the best tool of learning, and this is incorporated into school in a couple of key ways. The first is through the reading of living books versus textbooks. Living books include the original source documents and well-written fiction and non-fiction. Thus, this educational method encourages immersing the child in good literature rather than textbooks, which is far more stimulating to the mind and soul. Secondly, Mason’s belief was in the value of whole class discussions in seminar format rather than lecture format. Again, this stimulates learning and thinking and encourages participation in these educational processes. It is our goal at SLO Classical Academy that this form of discussion occurs in our classrooms. In addition, Mason encourages good writing skills which promote creativity and self-expression, developing skills in observation (teaching children to observe and enjoy their world), and a focus on speaking skills through the retelling of what one has read, learned, seen, etc. A distinguishing component of Charlotte Mason’s classical approach is the value of the world of the child. She emphasizes a balance of the child’s learning day must be free for creative exploration and play.

Parents should expect to help their children work hard, and are encouraged to teach their children with a certain level of structure. At the same time, the curriculum is so rich in content, that parents are also encouraged to develop the love of learning through hours spent in good books, in nature and in following children’s natural desires to explore the world (and subjects) around them. It is our goal that this program allows for the success of every child and family, and we expect this to look different depending upon each child. We desire each child to achieve at the highest level possible for that individual, and while the curriculum does require a standard of learning which matches and exceeds the California State Standards, we also expect to personalize the program for each child according to his or her own interests, abilities and styles of learning.

Completion of the grammar stage sets the foundation for the following two stages. During the dialectic stage, grades 7-9, students will develop emerging abstract reasoning skills, and will have the factual foundation on which to build these skills. They will continue to make connections between all the facts and subjects they have learned, but at a more rich and complex level. During the rhetoric stage, grades 10-12, students will have the thinking skills necessary to develop an ability to express themselves clearly and persuasively in writing and speech. In the end, they will be equipped to reach their own conclusions and express themselves with confidence.

There is an increasing amount of research demonstrating that students who are trained classically perform exceptionally well on college entrance exams and are well prepared for life choices after high school. We encourage you to spend time studying Classical education further as you consider this method for your child.

There are many excellent resources on the internet and in print which describe classical methods in great detail.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

SLOCA Weekly Email Update, 6/9/05

San Luis Obispo Classical Academy has just launched a Weekly Email Update. We will post those updates here on the SLOCA Blog. Here is this week's. . . the very first one. . . . .

Thursday, June 9, 2005

Dear Friends of the San Luis Obispo Classical Academy,

In an attempt to keep you all informed of emerging developments related to the SLO Classical Academy, it is our pleasure to introduce the SLOCA Weekly Email Update. You are receiving this email because you have expressed at least a mild interest or curiosity about SLOCA and how it might work for your family. So here goes. . . .

Encouraging Parent Information Nights
After having 10 families represented at our first "Parent Information Night" on May 23, we held our second Information Night on Monday, June 6th. We had 13 families represented this time around and two special guest teachers were present. In both sessions, we shared valuable discussion and fielded many great questions. Thanks to all for setting aside the time. And many thanks to Joe and Betsy Pollon for their gracious hospitality!

After these meetings, many of you have indicated that you are either "interested" or "very interested." We're eager to have a few more brave families jump into the journey with us and help make SLOCA a reality. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to call or email either one of us (contact info. below). If you are ready to go, you may let us know through email or phone contact. We are excited to hear from you!

Parent Question & Answer Night scheduled for Thursday, June 23
Speaking of your questions, we thought it might be valuable to have one more evening together that would be specifically focused on addressing looming or emerging questions. We have earmarked Thursday, June 23 as the date for a SLOCA Parent Question & Answer Night. We'll plan to gather at 7:00 PM at the Pollon's Home once more. Please invite other friends, neighbors and complete strangers that you think might be interested in SLOCA. If you need directions, drop us an email.

New Enrollments
We are pleased to announce that both the Pollon and Peterson Families have thrown their lot in with us. Joe and Betsy Pollon will be enrolling their first grader, and Scott and Ruthie Peterson will be enrolling their second grader. Welcome aboard!

Our First Committed Teacher
One of the most encouraging aspects of our SLOCA journey thus far has been the positive feedback from the many teachers with whom we've had the opportunity to chat. So many have expressed an understanding and interest in classical education and several have indicated a real interest in being involved with SLOCA. In fact, we are very pleased to inform you that one teacher has committed to join us in the fall — assuming we can pull together enough committed families. We are eager to share this person's name, but will hold off for now until we have just a few more enrolled students.

Registration deadline is July 1!
As a reminder, July 1st is the deadline to register your children for SLOCA. The spots for children will be held on a first-come, first- serve basis, and you can hold a spot with your $50 registration fee. In addition, the registration paperwork will need to get turned in at that time. If you or anyone you know is in need of a registration packet, let us know and we will get one (or more) into your hands.

Grade Levels & Spreading the Word
We are hopeful for at least 20 students to start this fall, but do dream of a higher enrollment in order to provide more teachers and more classes. The more kindergarteners we get, the higher chance for a separate kindergarten class. The more 6th graders we get, the higher the chance for a 6th grade class! Please join us and spread the word to those with whom you are in contact.

Articles of Incorporation Completed
Starting a non-profit corporation has been quite a learning experience for Lisa and I. We continue to feel our way through the process. What a lot of steps and heaps of paperwork. We happily completed and just sent off our Articles of Incorporation as part of the process of obtaining our Non-Profit Status at the state and federal levels. We are also in the process of writing a business plan and completing the rest of the paperwork for our non-profit status (thank you, Lisa!). We continue to run into surprises and new work, so if anyone is available to help, please let us know!

SLOCA Blog Now Live & Website Coming Soon
Any bloggers out there? My husband has convinced me that a SLOCA Blog would be a good promotional tool and the simplest way to get some information about SLOCA out there on the internet (so when you do a Google search for "classical education San Luis Obispo, we come up!). So as a step toward a well-designed, excellent website in the longterm, we'll begin with a blog now in the short term. Posts will include these weekly emails and other information we feel compelled to share. Check it out, read along, and enter into the dialogue. . . .and as always, refer some friends.

The SLOCA Blog can be found at

Next Week's Weekly Update. . .
Next week we'll introduce you to the new SLOCA Board of Directors. We're excited to have these talented and neat people committed to the future of the San Luis Obispo Classical Academy.

That's all for now!

Susie Theule with Lisa Lewis

"Education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire."
--William Yeats--

Contact information:

San Luis Obispo Classical Academy
P.O. Box 3601,
San Luis Obispo, CA 93403-3601


Welcome to the San Luis Obispo Classical Academy. . . .