Sunday, December 30, 2007

academy schwag

We've got a whole bunch of new schwag . . . beanies, men's and ladies tees, pullover and zip up sweatshirts and more.

Contact the school at to purchase yours.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

A Vote For Latin

SLO Classical Academy offers and strongly encourages middle school students to take at 3 years of Latin. Why in the world would we value our students to study a "dead language?"

Our terrific Latin teacher, Sarah Weinschenck, recently spotted this great NY Times Op/Ed piece entitled, A Vote for Latin. This article explains it all and is a must-read for enrolled and interested families. Here's a couple of paragraphs . . .

But what they gain is a glimpse into the past that provides a fuller, richer view of the present. Know Latin and you discern the Roman layer that lies beneath the skin of the Western world. And you open up 500 years of Western literature (plus an additional thousand years of Latin prose and poetry).

Why not just study all this in English? What do you get from reading the “Aeneid” in the original that you wouldn’t get from Robert Fagles’s fine translation, which came out just last year?

Well, no translation, however fine, can ever sound the way Latin was written to sound. To hear Latin poetry spoken smoothly and quickly is to hear a mellifluous, rat-a-tat-tat language, the rich, distilled, romantic, pure, heady blueprint of its close descendant, Italian.

But also, learning to translate Latin into English and vice versa is a tremendous way to train the mind. I think of translating concise, precise Latin into more expansive, discursive English as like opening up a concertina; you are allowed to inject all sorts of original thought and interpretation.

As much as opening the concertina enlarges your imagination, squeezing it shut — translating English into Latin — sharpens your prose. Because Latin is a dead language, not in a constant state of flux as living languages are, there’s no wriggle room in translating. If you haven’t understood exactly what a particular word means or how a grammatical rule works, you are likely to be, not off, but just plain wrong. There’s nothing like this challenge to teach you how to navigate the reefs and whirlpools of English prose.

With a little Roman history and Latin under your belt, you end up seeing more everywhere, not only in literature and language, but in the classical roots of Federal architecture; the spread of Christianity throughout Western Europe and, in turn, America; and in the American system of senatorial government. The novelist Alan Hollinghurst describes people who know history’s turning points as being able to look at the world as a sequence of rooms: Greece gives way to Rome, Rome to the Byzantine Empire, to the Renaissance, to the British Empire, to America.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Winter break Update - 12/27/07

Every week, enrolled families receive a Director's Weekly Update email. Here is this weeks update. . .

The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose; new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes. Unless a particular man made New Year resolutions, he would make no resolutions. Unless a man starts afresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective. ~G.K. Chesterton

Dear Classical Academy Families -

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas celebration together. We sure did, and we are really enjoying the change of pace for awhile! And now 2008 is upon us! Can you believe it? In spite of being a bit of a resolution cynic, I must say that I do enjoy having the chance to tweak the old and try anew! And once in awhile, something actually sticks! May this be a sticking year for us all!

I have a few things to communicate with you about, and then I am actually going to be off for a couple of weeks out of commission with my family for our usual January get-away. I will be breaking from the school starting today, Thursday the 27th, through Wednesday, January 9th. Please make a note of that so you might remember why I'm not returning emails, etc. Lisa Lewis will be serving as my back-up and April Kemp will handle issues connected with the classroom, so we are well covered!

Special Announcements:

Speaking of Lisa Lewis, I would like to share with you an exciting change for her and the school. As you know, Lisa took a leave of absence this fall and during this time, did a great deal of soul searching. As she contemplated her work at the school, she took into consideration what she most enjoys about education and what she feels she is most gifted to contribute. We have decided as a board and as a staff to affirm her request to serve as our Education Resource Manager at SLO Classical Academy beginning immediately. Lisa will concentrate her efforts in curricular areas, especially in setting up resources for our teachers as we implement our own curriculum at the school. This is a greatly felt need by the teachers and something Lisa has the gifts, desire and ability to provide for them (and thus for us!). Therefore, Lisa will no longer be serving as a director but doing what we need and what she loves. Thanks, Lisa!

Along with this adjustment, April Kemp will officially serve as our Teacher Lead or supervisor. April has years of experience overseeing and coming alongside teachers (and is a credentialed teacher herself with years of classroom experience) and is an original Classical Academy parent, so she is a great fit to head up our wonderful teaching team. Thank you, April, for jumping in!

I will continue to serve as the school's director, or as what I like to call the Visionary Director.

In addition, we have developed a new Curriculum Development Team, which includes myself, Lisa, April and Rea Berg. We will be working together to insure that our studies and educational goals are clear and solid, our curricular and literature choices support our goals and are planned out in detail for our four year cycle, and that these choices are provided to you in a timely manner.

We are excited about all the adjustments and improvements we have been able to instill and feel that not only are they good fits for each of us, but that the families we serve will benefit greatly as we learn from our past, refine in our present, and purposefully plan for the future!

Parents at SLO Classical Academy

Thank you to all of you for giving our office and staff a break from phone calls and emails! As a reminder, the office is closed until Monday, January 7th. You will be receiving your usual email from teachers the Friday before.

Thank you also to those of you who have made a donation to the school for much needed funding. It's not too late for others to join the cause in keeping our school on sure footing as we grow and develop. You may send donations to the school at P.O. Box 3601, SLO 93403 and as long as they are postmarked by December 31st, they will be tax deductible for this year. In addition, we do have a brokerage account set up, allowing easy giving of tax-deductible donations via mutual funds, bonds, stocks, etc. If you are interested in this, please contact our board member, Jill Talley at in my absence.

As a reminder, tuition is still due the 5th of next month. You will have to send in your payment to the P.O. Box just mentioned, and it needs to be postmarked by the 5th. Thanks for making the effort to get it to us on time!

Leadership Site Team - We are still looking for a couple more parents to serve on our Leadership Site Team, which will oversee policy development. If interested, send an email to the directors address and I will get back to you when I can after my vacation.

Education at SLO Classical Academy

Academy Classes are coming! Right now we are set to start January 25th. If you are interested in teaching a class, or providing childcare for another parent to teach the class, the families of these volunteers will be given priority in signing up for that session of classes. As usual, let Kateri Rein know of your interest and great desire to help at

Want to wipe out your volunteer hours in a short time? We are looking to get our little offices across from the outdoor bulletin board painted and would love to see a parent or two (or three) wipe this out in January. The doors are open before and after school hours - take a peek and think about it. We are using these rooms for regular fundraising meetings for the larger community and the poor space needs some tlc. Our next meeting is at the end of January. Anyone? Please let Camille know at .

Also, we need someone with some sewing skills to help crop some simple curtains for the space as well. If interested, email Camille and she'll let me know of your interest (but remember, I won't be around for awhile!).

Events at SLO Classical Academy

Mark the dates - Mandatory Middle School meeting January 15th, and all school Parent Meeting January 24th.

PIE night! Come and hear from my husband and the other great PIE folks on Thursday, January 10th at 6:30. The evenings are very fun, helpful, comforting and inspiring! (Although I hold no responsibility for what comes out of my husband's mouth!) Start the new year by attending your first PIE night! And remember, you can earn an hour of volunteer time for attending, and up to 3 hours for those nights and/or Classroom Connection attendance. What a deal!

And finally, the Reading Group will be meeting on January 11th. Big week, I know. But such a great night! Join us in discussing I, Juan de Pareja at 7:00 p.m.

Did You Know...(a new, improved update section)

Over 1800 hours of parent volunteer time were put in during fall trimester alone? Now that's a lot of hours! Thank you!

Okay, that's enough now! There will be no update next week, and we're working on it for the week after while I'm still on vacation! Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy your break. I'm looking forward to 2008 together!


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

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Weekly Update, 12.12.07

Each week enrolled families receive a Director's Weekly Update via email. Here is this week's update. . .

And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more. ~Dr. Seuss

Dear Parents -

It is hard to believe that Christmas is just about upon us. I am ready for a break and time to put on the top of the list some of our own family traditions for this season. This year we are reading some winter and Christmas based literature together in the evenings instead of some of our other reading, and it is a delight. I'm looking forward to more time for this as well! I hope you all have a wonderful break enjoying a different pace - and may the pace you decide instead of the other way around! And may there be time in the midst of the rush for what truly matters.

Here's our announcements for the week:

Vacation: Next Monday begins our Christmas vacation - we will resume class on Monday, January 7th. The office will be closed during these weeks, and thus the phone will be "closed" as well. If you need to get a hold of us, you may email us, but the turnaround time will be significantly longer during break as we all look forward to time with our families. Thanks for keeping this in mind as you head into the vacation!

Leadership Site Team - Our current school policies have all been put in place by our Board of Directors and staff, with parent feedback. As we continue to face policy needs as the school grows, we are putting together a new team of staff and parents to make the process of policy setting more streamlined and official. If you are interested in sitting on this committee, please let me know at the address. It would likely mean an average of 1 meeting a month during school hours (more often if urgent issues arise), some possible work at home (typing minutes, researching other policies, etc.) and some email contact. While these hours would count for volunteer time, I would encourage you to see this as an investment in your family and school. I would love to see some parents with experience at other school settings on this committee in addition to parents that are truly interested in making our school a special and safe place for all.


December's PIE night TONIGHT, December 12th will focus on 'Changing your attitude' where we will share specific remedies for anger, impatience, isolation, guilt and a whole host of other roadblocks that we all deal with in order to create the most healthy homeschooling situation. Please join us Wednesday, December 12th at 6:30 in room 9 for more laughs and inspiration.

Volunteer hours - this trimester, you have the opportunity to earn 3 volunteer hours total for going to either PIE nights or Classroom Connection Meetings. Each night or meeting you attend will be worth 1 hour total (even if you are there longer) but if you attend 3 of them, you may log 3 meetings at 1 hour each. We want to encourage you to take advantage of these great community experiences - parent to parent connection is so helpful on this journey!

Funding - We thank you for your ongoing commitment to the school and would love to have you consider a year-end donation. If you are interested in donating (Remember, that brokerage account is good to go!), please feel free to email us over break. Thanks!

Overflow - please check the Lost & Found - we will be donating the clothes after our last day before break.


Important Middle School Parent Meeting - please save the date for Tuesday evening, January 15th at 7:00 p.m. for a mandatory meeting. We will be making some adjustments and improvements in math instruction and they will be laid out at this meeting.

Academy Classes are coming again!

We are putting together our third session of Academy Classes. It will be a 6 week session on Friday afternoons (12:30-3:30) from January 25-February 29. WE WOULD LOVE TO OFFER MORE PARENT-LED CLASSES. This is an opportunity for you, as parents (or grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc), to share your interests with some wonderful children. It is a great way to earn volunteer hours and connect more with the school community. If you are interested, but need ideas or a co-leader, we can work something out. If you would be willing to babysit so that someone else can teach a class, you can earn volunteer hours for helping in this way as well.

Here are some specific classes we would love to see happen:
P.E. class for K-2 (could be soccer, teaching a variety of games, etc.)
Science class for K-2 (and older?) - we have some great books with easy ooey gooey recipes in them that the kids would love!
Knitting class - any knitters out there that would like to pass on the art? Grandmas? Friends? Yourself? History - we have had history enriching classes before, and they are a wonderful addition to the kids' studies. We have a parent willing to head a
class up but we need a couple of parents to assist.
Nature Journaling - a long-time tradition for some in classical education. We have some resources for you!

If interested, willing or able, please contact Kateri at


T-shirt pick-up will be next Monday and Tuesday the 12th and 13th after school. Thanks for all your orders - we'll do it again after the holidays!

Mandatory Parent Meeting January 24th. This is one of about 3 all school parent meetings during the year that we need you to plan on attending. It will be an evening that will reflect on the past, clarify the present and look forward to the future together as registration opens for current families MONDAY, FEBRUARY 4TH.

One of our parents has let us know about a conference coming to the area. Here's the information: Encouragement for the Homeschooling Family Conference will be held on Monday, January 21 from 7 p.m.- 9:30 p.m. at the Atascadero Bible Church (ABC Church) at 6225 Atascadero Mall in Atascadero. This is a FREE Christian conference for the entire family that focuses on the "home" part of the homeschool experience rather than on the academic side. There will be various breakout sessions for parents and young people. Please pick up a flyer in the office for more details. For questions or to pre-register, e-mail Julie Schuler at . An added plus is that the following day is a school holiday so the evening conference won't make for sleepy students the next morning.


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

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Will Durant on the Death of Civilization

"A great civilization is not conquered from without
until it has destroyed itself from within!"
Will Durant

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Weekly Update, 12.05.07

Every week enrolled families receive a Director's Update via email. Here is this week's update. . .

We cannot teach people anything; we can only help them discover it within themselves" ~ Galileo Galilei

Dear Parents -

I hope you are all having a great week of home instruction! I enjoyed seeing this quote in our Galileo book last week - often I feel overcome by the responsibility of all I have to make sure my kids learn - but viewing it as a discovery process is freeing to me - I can discover with them and can move them towards discovery. It's still work, I suppose, but so much more life-giving than cramming kids full of information! I know I am on that journey of discovery in so many areas of life. I take heart in knowing that I have many like you to keep me company!

Here's our announcements for the week:


December's PIE night on December 12th will focus on 'Changing your attitude' where we will share specific remedies for anger, impatience, isolation, guilt and a whole host of other roadblocks that we all deal with in order to create the most healthy homeschooling situation. (And you thought you weren't normal!) Please join us Wednesday, December 12th at 6:30 in room 9 for more laughs and inspiration.

Volunteer hours - this trimester, you have the opportunity to earn 3 volunteer hours total for going to either PIE nights or Classroom Connection Meetings. Each night or meeting you attend will be worth 1 hour total (even if you are there longer) but if you attend 3 of them, you may log 3 meetings at 1 hour each. We want to encourage you to take advantage of these great community experiences - parent to parent connection is so helpful on this journey!

Thank you! to the Schrantz family for donating the new (and very comfortable) desk chairs! They're great, and we appreciate both the chairs and the time and effort it took to get them to us! For others who might know of resources or who are deal-finders, we have a Wish List printed in our outdoor bulletin board. We will keep it updated as needs are met and as they arise. Thanks always for your investment in the school.

Funding - some exciting things are happening in the area of funding.

1. We have our brokerage account set up! This allows people to give via stocks, bonds, mutual funds, etc. If interested, please let me know and I
head you in the right direction. Again, thank you for considering the school's needs as you consider year-end giving.

2. Thursday we are kicking off our big picture fundraising plan with a one hour "get to know us" event. If you are interested in finding out how we plan to get the word out about the school or if you are wondering how to pass the word along to someone you think might be interested in donating to the school, you are free to join us at 11 a.m. in our Administration Offices (across from the outdoor bulletin board). We will hold this one hour every 3-4 weeks for several months.

3. We received a $10,000 donation from an anonymous family at the school on Tuesday. These are much needed funds, and we'd like to thank this family from the bottom of our hearts for making this thoughtful and very generous donation!

Overflow - please check the Lost & Found - we will be donating the clothes after our last day before break. Also, please check those family files for overflow as well! There's lots of paperwork sitting just dying to be read. Thanks!


Important Middle School Parent Meeting - please save the date for Tuesday evening, January 15th at 7:00 p.m. for a mandatory meeting. We will be making some adjustments and improvements in math instruction and they will be laid out at this meeting.

Academy Classes are coming again!

We are putting together our third session of Academy Classes. It will be a 6 week session on Friday afternoons (12:30-3:30) from January 25-February 29. We are going to try this after hearing from you with our survey. We're excited!

While we are bringing in some classes from the community, WE WOULD LOVE TO OFFER MORE PARENT-LED CLASSES. This is an opportunity for you, as parents (or grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc), to share your interests with some wonderful children. It is a great way to earn volunteer hours and connect more with the school community. If you are interested, but need ideas or a co-leader, we can work something out. If you would be willing to babysit so that someone else can teach a class, you can earn volunteer hours for helping in this way as well.

We also have some specific needs:

We would like 2 more people to help teach (or assist) a History Enrichment Class for Intermediate and Middle School students. This class will be an opportunity to do some of those extra fun projects that are often hard to fit into a school week.

Coming in January, we are hoping to offer music classes for K-Primary on Wednesdays and Thursdays. We have a musical mom putting together a great class, but she needs a babysitter for her children during class time. She will bring her children to your house (SLO on either day or also South County on Weds) and she can bring your school child(ren) home after the class. This job could be for either volunteer hours or a class fee exchange.

Please contact Kateri at


T-shirt pick-up will be next Monday and Tuesday the 12th and 13th after school. Thanks for all your orders - we'll do it again after the holidays!

All right! Have a great week - thanks for all you put into this journey together!


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

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Flickr Pic of the Week, 12.04.07

Here's one of our students on the first day of school this year. Doesn't she look happy to be back in school?

To see lots more photos, go to our flickr site.

Monday, December 03, 2007

shifting gears

Its becoming more and more clear that becoming a Classical Academy Family involves far more than just choosing a school . . . it involves a shift of paradigm in terms of the way you "do family" and think about education. SLO Classical Academy is a lifestyle! This is true whether your coming from either direction . . . from a homeschooling paradigm or a public school paradigm. SLO Classical Academy is different altogether. We're discovering that the families that whole-heartedly embrace this paradigm shift are the ones experiencing the most fun and satisfaction. Those who resist the change or simply can't make the shift, have a much harder time and sometimes just don't survive at SLO Classical Academy. All of this is important to consider as you evaluate if SLO Classical is a good fit for your family.

To get a better idea of what it means to shift your educational paradigm, take a listen to this fantastic lecture given last Fall at the Academy by Andrew Pudewa, entitled Rebuilding Your Educational Paradigm. Andrew is the founder of the acclaimed and nationally recognized Excellence in Writing program and who also just happens to live here on the Central Coast. Andrew serves on our Classical Advisory Board and has a child enrolled at SLO Classical Academy.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

making sense of the chaotic present through the abstract wisdom of the past

Back to School Blues

By Victor Davis Hanson

Last week I went shopping in our small rural hometown, where my family has attended the same public schools since 1896. Without exception, all six generations of us -- whether farmers, housewives, day laborers, business people, writers, lawyers or educators -- were given a good, competitive K-12 education.

But after a haircut, I noticed that the 20-something cashier could not count out change. The next day, at the electronic outlet store, another young clerk could not read -- much less explain -- the basic English of the buyer's warranty. At the food market, I listened as a young couple argued over the price of a cut of tri-tip -- unable to calculate the meat's real value from its price per pound.

As another school year is set to get under way, it's worth pondering where this epidemic of ignorance came from. Our presidential candidates sense the danger of this dumbing down of American society and are arguing over the dismal status of contemporary education: poor graduation rates, weak test scores and suspect literacy among the general population. Politicians warn that America's edge in global research and productivity will disappear, and with it our high standard of living.

Yet the bleak statistics -- whether a 70 percent high school graduation rate as measured in a study a few years ago by The Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, or poor math rankings in comparison with other industrial nations -- come at a time when our schools inflate grades and often honor multiple valedictorians at high school graduation ceremonies. Aggregate state and federal education budgets are high. Too few A's, too few top awards and too little funding apparently don't seem to be our real problems.

Of course, most critics agree that the root causes for our undereducated youth are not all the schools' fault. Our present ambition to make every American youth college material -- in a way our forefathers would have thought ludicrous -- ensures that we will both fail in that utopian goal and lack enough literate Americans with critical vocational skills.

The disintegration of the American nuclear family is also at fault. Too many students don't have two parents reminding them of the value of both abstract and practical learning.

What then can our elementary and secondary schools do, when many of their students' problems begin at home or arise from our warped popular culture?

We should first scrap the popular therapeutic curriculum that in the scarce hours of the school day crams in sermons on race, class, gender, drugs, sex, self-esteem or environmentalism. These are well-intentioned efforts to make a kinder and gentler generation more sensitive to our nation's supposed past and present sins. But they only squeeze out far more important subjects.

The old approach to education saw things differently than we do. Education ("to lead out" or "to bring up") was not defined as being "sensitive" to, or "correct" on, particular issues. It was instead the rational ability to make sense of the chaotic present through the abstract wisdom of the past.

So literature, history, math and science gave students plenty of facts, theorems, people and dates to draw on. Then training in logic, language and philosophy provided the tools to use and express that accumulated wisdom. Teachers usually did not care where all that training led their students politically -- only that their pupils' ideas and views were supported with facts and argued rationally.

What else can we do to restore such traditional learning before the United States loses it global primacy?

To encourage our best minds to become teachers, we should also change the qualifications for becoming one. Students should be able to pursue careers in teaching either by getting a standard teaching credential or by substituting a master's degree in an academic subject. That way we will eventually end up with more instructors with real academic knowledge rather than prepped with theories about how to teach.

And once hired, K-12 teachers should accept that tenure has outlived its usefulness. Near-guaranteed lifelong employment has become an archaic institution that shields educators from answerability. And tenure has not ensured ideological diversity and independence. Nearly the exact opposite -- a herd mentality -- presides within many school faculties. Periodic and renewable contracts -- with requirements, goals and incentives -- would far better ensure teacher credibility and accountability.

Athletics, counseling and social activism may be desirable in schools. But they are not crucial. Our pay scales should reflect that reality. Our top classroom teachers should earn as much as -- if not more than -- administrators, bureaucrats, coaches and advisers.

Liberal education of the type my farming grandfather got was the reason why the United States grew wealthy, free and stable. But without it, the nation of his great-grandchildren will become poor, docile and insecure.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Lisa Boyd Parent Profile

Here's a great profile of one of our parents, Lisa Boyd, from the November 2007 Scoop. It provides a great window into how families are experiencing the Academy . . .

You probably have seen Lisa Boyd in your meanderings on campus during
the first couple months of school as she is actively involved. She
is on the field trip committee, the special fund raising committee,
is a classroom liaison and works several library shifts each month.
Certainly, she has figured out how to earn her volunteer hours
quickly! Her beaming smile and energy convey her enthusiasm for our
school in only the way our devoted parents can.

Like all of the parents here at SLO Classical Academy, Lisa Boyd is a
busy woman. With one child in pre-school and her daughter on the
intermediate track she juggles a double duty trying to balance the
needs two children. She confided that it is often challenging to
adequately fulfill all of her duties—with Evan needing pre-K skills
to be developed and Autumn needing her curriculum requirements tended
to, there is the ever present feeling of her wanting to be able to do
more. She manages the best she can and makes sure that she takes
time for herself as well.

The newest outlet that Lisa has discovered as a way to increase her
own personal growth is through the book club offered by Classical
Academy. In fact according to Lisa she “just LOVES it!” After
overcoming her initial feelings of intimidation that the other
parents in attendance would all be literary whizzes and that she
would be out of her league, Lisa discovered a forum where she could
expand her own horizons while at the same time learn new ways to
teach the books at home. By reading the books for the club and then
again with her daughter, she’s “really amazed at how much you get out
of a book reading it for the second time.” She’s relearning
forgotten literary terms, gaining motivation from fellow parents and
most importantly laughing in a relaxed and comfortable, yet somewhat
structured environment. This is not your girlfriend’s book club
where everything BUT the book is discussed. With a little food, a
little wine and a little learning she has found yet another valuable
resource to help integrate both herself and her family into the
fabric of our school.

The Boyd family joined Classical Academy last year when Autumn was in
second grade and has found it to be a great match for them. Lisa
says that Autumn “loves it so much and is so excited by everything,
every day—it’s just a great space for us.”

Friday, November 30, 2007

Volunteers are making it happen!

Camille DeBruin, our Volunteer Coordinator, just informed us that that there were 1866.50 volunteer hours were logged last trimester alone. That's not including the countless parents who far exceeded their required hours and so just stopped recording them.

Wow! Many thanks to our amazing parents!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The History of Rome Podcast

As parents of classical students, we want to be classically educating ourselves as well. Its hard to squeeze it into already busy lives. Here's a terrific 15 minute per episode podcast on the history of Rome. . . . fun, informative and oh so classical. To listen in iTunes, CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Flickr Pic of the Week, 11.29.07

Here's a great classroom pic from last year. They are all much bigger this year! Fun to see them grow before our very eyes. . .

Weekly Update, November 28, 2007

Every week, enrolled families receive an email update from the Directors. Here's this week's update . . .

One kind word can warm three winter months. ~ Japanese proverb

Dear Parents -

Welcome back! I truly hope you had a meaningful and even restful extended Thanksgiving holiday. The staff met for many hours discussing, evaluating and planning, and we are more unified than ever and ready for a great trimester with you! Thanks to those who offered kind words as we took the time needed to keep our pioneering school moving forward. Keep those words coming as we continue to plow ahead! And we will do the same.

Some business for you:

Special focus this week: Where, oh where, is Lisa? We originally told you we had given Lisa a leave of absence through the Thanksgiving holiday. Well, after thinking it through, we have happily granted her a few more weeks, so she will be off through the entire holiday season. We are happy to give her this time!

In the case you didn't know...April Kemp, an original Classical Academy parent and experienced teacher and leader, is filling in for Lisa in the area of teacher mentoring and leadership. Thank you April!

Parents at SLO Classical Academy:

Whoa! What is up with the GIANT PACKETS I'm going to find in my family files starting today after school? These are our Winter Trimester packets - a very good read, if I must say so myself. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE find time to read these. Everything in that packet is there because of the feedback you or the teachers gave us this last trimester. Grab that glass of wine or cup of coffee and read it through. Thanks!

Volunteers! It's time again - don't save your volunteer hours until the end of the trimester! We have many options open to you - contact Camille at for help fitting in. We have several home options right now - preparing yummy desserts for our staff Christmas party and ironing (yep, ironing!). We also desperately need help selling t-shirts, etc. after school these next couple of weeks (receive a $10 credit towards your order) and we have another Honey Do Job! We need someone with a truck and a strong back to haul off a couple of furniture items we can't use. We really need these items gone by Tuesday, Dec. 4th. Please let us know if you can help!

Giving with our Brokerage account - We mentioned once that we would be setting up an account which allowed people to give tax-deductible donations to the school via mutual funds, bonds, stocks, etc. Well it's set up! Thank you to the Talleys (board member) and to R.E Wacker Associates, Inc. who have made this an affordable and active reality! We will be working on finding the easiest way for people able to give to do so, but in the meantime, if you or someone you know would like to give much needed funds to the school, please have them contact me at Thanks for your consideration of donations as year-end giving comes to a climax!


Changes: In your packet, you will find some schedule changes for our history, literature and science. We think you will like the changes, but key word to like is "read" (the packet, of course!). If you find you have a book that you absolutely cannot use and don't want due to these changes, and you cannot return your purchase, please let me know and I will do what I can to purchase the book from you.


Sweatshirts & T-shirts - They're back, and we have some new items! Items will be available for viewing next Monday the 3rd and Tuesday the 4th after school. Hate to rush you, but in order to get items back in time for Christmas gifts, orders will need to be placed that day as well - pick up with the the 12th and 13th. The order form is attached to this email for your shopping perusal or you may download the form on our website - resources, downloadable forms. We will sell once again after the holidays! Thanks to Jeannie Pleasant for putting this together for us! If you can help take orders, please let Camille know at - you will receive a $10 credit for your purchase as well as volunteer hours!

PIE night! Earmark Wednesday, December 12th to join other parents at our PIE (perspective, inspiration, encouragement) at 6:30 p.m.

Reading Group Change! Steve is not available to lead our group January 18th, so it has been rescheduled for January 11th. After changes in reading schedules for the kids, we are going to read I, Juan de Pareja to discuss that night. We will then discuss Children of the New Forest in February, and there is only 3 weeks between the January and February date, so you might want to get going on those books!

Okay...that's it! I'm saving your reading time for that lovely, informative packet...

Thanks! And have a great rest of your week...


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

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Early Bird gets the Worm!

If you are interested in being on a waiting list for the 2008/2009 School Year, download, read carefully, complete and send in or drop off our Early Registration Form. We are accepting these early registrations from now through January 31st.

PLEASE NOTE: Early registration does not guarantee your child does not guarantee a spot but places them on a waiting list which gives them priority right after our current families reenroll.

Monday, November 26, 2007

SLO Classical Academy on Google Maps

Just figured out you can embed a google map on your website and blog. Here's our location, which was also just added to our contact page. Click "SAT" in the upper right corner to view a satellite image of the same location. Pretty cool!

View Larger Map

Julie Schuler is thankful for SLO Classical Academy

Here's another great testimony from a new family at SLO Classical Academy. . .

This is our first year with SLO Classical Academy and I feel so blessed to have this school available to our family. I am a homeschooler at heart and wasn't willing to put my daughter in full-time school for many reasons. I didn't want her under a lot of pressure at such young age which would soon squelch her love of learning. I wanted to be able to modify our teaching style and pace to her individual needs, I wanted to remain a larger influence in her life than her peers. I wanted her to still have free time to enjoy family time as well as time to just play and be a kid. We homeschooled for kindergarten, and while we enjoyed it, there were many creative things I wanted to do with her which were difficult to accomplish on my own. When I attended the information meeting, I knew I had found a great fit for us. Hearing the directors talk about learning through living books, history days, integrated subject matter, strong family involvement, small class size, character development, and fostering the love of learning was really exciting to hear. We would still be homeschooling with all of its benefits, but now in addition we would be enriching her education with all the vision, energy, and expertise that the school had to offer.

We enrolled our daughter in the primary class, and she absolutely loves it. It is her favorite place to be. She adores her teacher and has so much fun with the other kids. She is a very social little girl and I have been impressed with all the children and families that attend the school. It puts a mom's mind at ease to know her child's friends are from families that make their children a priority and invest time in them. It really shows. The school has such a homey, family feel to it and I love seeing all the parents and younger siblings around before and after school. The education she is receiving here is superb. She is excited about learning, enjoys our time reading all the historical literature, and of course the history days are a highlight of the year. One of the big benefits in my opinion is that she still has time to be a kid. She can spend hours playing pretend and letting her imagination and creativity flow. Many times her play involves the things she has learned at school which lets me know she really "got it." Her stuffed animals become the pilgrims on the Mayflower landing in the New World, etc. It's fun to watch.

As you can see, I am sold on the school, it's philosophy, and the dedicated staff and families that make it all happen. We are thankful to be a part of it. -- Julie Schuler

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Let's Eat

Katie Allshouse and Jenny Bischoff, two active moms in our Classical Academy community, have created our newest community resource. . . . LET'S EAT . . . a food and cooking newsletter designed to help busy families delight in the duty of daily meals.

Check out the October and November issues of Let's Eat RIGHT HERE.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Why Latin?

Were you aware that two years of Latin are required for Middle School students at SLO Classical Academy? Do you know why?

Here's a great, short, explanation provided by our very own Latin teacher, Sarah Weinschenk, that will make you want to take Latin too!

Why Latin?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Cozy Faber's Surprise

Cozy Faber's story is similar to many parents at San Luis Obispo Classical Academy. Perhaps her experience will resonate with your own . . .

Prior to enrolling in Classical Academy, I never classified myself as a home schooling parent. In fact the entire notion of home schooling was initially very uninteresting to me. I fully intended to languish in the luxury of having my children in school daily for several hours in a row. I anticipated with excitement the number of things I would be able to accomplish without them on my heels every hour of every day. My intention was to follow the "American model" and send my soft and warm five year olds into the cold regime of a questionable system.

As the actual decision making process drew upon our family, we did a fair amount of research and determined that the public education system was not going to be a match for us after all. We also discussed at length the possibilities of schooling the girls on our own. As the primary care taker in our home, I was skeptical about my ability to manage a home school system, make sure my girls were getting what they needed and keep a positive attitude through it all. I didn't think I could do it. We then started looking for private schools in the area and discovered the answer to all of our needs: San Luis Obispo Classical Academy!

By combining a classroom structure along with a home school routine, our family is discovering a love of learning together. We have fun; interact with each other during times of the day where the focus isn’t on getting to the next activity: we are the activity! The other piece to this that is so important is the actual school campus setting. My girls are social and they crave interaction with other children. By having them in classes two days a week, they are able to cultivate this human need. In addition to making friends within their own age group though, they are also learning how to interact with older children and next year will share a mixed age classroom. These kids are confidant around people of all ages; they are polite to each other and to their teachers in a way that I personally have never witnessed in such a broad cross section of age ranges.

We have discovered an answer to every question that we had raised during our search for schools and are nothing but elated with the experiences we have had thus far. --Cozy Faber

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Weekly Update, 11.14.07

Every week, enrolled families receive a weekly Director's Update via email, here is this week's email. . .

Every now and then go away, even briefly, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work your judgment will be surer; since to remain constantly at work will cause you to lose power. ~ Leonardo da Vinci

Dear Parents -

Greetings from Phoenix, Arizona! I am here with five other SLO Classical Academy parents and another board member for a fundraising training seminar. Although we miss our families, it is good to get away to get new perspective and vision.

Well - it's a short one this week! Please make sure you read the special update that went out a few days ago as that covered some bigger picture issues.

Parents at SLO Classical Academy:

Just a reminder there is no school next week at all! Enjoy the time and cater it to your own family's needs- including a little R & R if at all possible. Although our teachers will be meeting for some extended planning meetings, please allow them that week and weekend for vacation. They have worked more hours than you know this trimester and need the time to be with their families. You may email them if need be, but please take on a "school is closed" mentality. The office will be closed as well.

The volunteer log is also closing for this trimester at the end of school on Thursday, the 15th. Thanks for all the many hours you put in this trimester! The school is truly blessed with amazing and dedicated families.

Parent Reading Group - We are skipping December and our next meeting will be on Friday evening, January 18th. We had decided to read Children of the New Forest, but with the teacher planning going on, we may switch that around to better coordinate with our children's reading assignment. For those of you that have not been able to attend - it is a very fun evening - does not feel like another school commitment at all! Feel free to join us.

We're blogging again! Check out the blog link on our website to keep abreast of the most current updates on the web site. We have all sorts of fun stuff posted, such as a video and all kinds of pictures from the history day! http//

Education at SLO Classical Academy:

Progress reports are also due by the end of Thursday, the 15th. Please hand your 2 copies in to the front office staff for safekeeping. We do not want emailed progress reports this time around, so get those copies to us by 2:30 Thursday. Thanks! Remember you may download them on our web site and there are several samples posted on the web site as well. Your teacher progress reports are due Friday the 30th - we will a copy of that to you as soon as possible after that deadline. Form web link:

Waiting List opening soon! For those of you with friends interested in attending the school next year, we have a waiting list for 08/09 starting on Monday, November 26th through January 31, 2008. Directions will be posted on the web site beginning the weekend before along with an Early Registration Form families will need to fill out to get on the list. These people will get priority for next year's slots AFTER our current families receive their slots in February.

Events at SLO Classical Academy:

SAVE THE DATE! A mandatory Parent Meeting is scheduled for Thursday, January 24th starting at 7:00 p.m.. Please plan to have at least one parent there for some updates and information about next year (can you believe I just wrote that?). Some of our board of directors will be there to meet with you and I will share vision related to where we've been, where we are, and where we are going.

Thanks - and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Flickr Pic of the Week, 11.13.07

Here's a great pic of our own School of Athens from last Friday's Renaissance Tableaux History Day.

Raphael painted the original in 1509-1510. The most famous philosophers of ancient times move within an imposing Renaissance architecture which is inspired by Bramante's project for the renewal of the early Christian basilica of St Peter. Some of these are easily recognizable. In the centre Plato points upwards with a finger and holds his book Timeus in his hand, flanked by Aristotle with Ethics; Pythagoras is shown in the foreground intent on explaining the diatesseron. Diogenes is lying on the stairs with a dish, while the pessimist philosopher, Heracleitus, a portrait of Michelangelo, is leaning against a block of marble, writing on a sheet of paper. Michelangelo was in those years executing the paintings in the nearby Sistine Chapel. On the right we see Euclid, who is teaching geometry to his pupils, Zoroaster holding the heavenly sphere and Ptolemy holding the earthly sphere. The personage on the extreme right with the black beret is a self-portrait of Raphael.

Here's the original...

To see more Tableaux pics go to

Monday, November 12, 2007

"Friends of" Email Update, 11.11.07

Occasionally, we send out an update to those who have signed up for our "Friends of SLO Classical Academy Email List at our website. Below is the latest update, sent 11.11.07. . .

To sign up for our "Friends of" Email List, just fill in the blanks. . .

Your Name:

Your Email:

The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it. ~ Michelangelo

Dear Friends of SLO Classical Academy -

You are receiving this email because, at some point, you signed up to be on our Friends of SLO Classical Academy email list. If you are new to this group - welcome! If you have been on the list for awhile and no longer wish to be on the list - just hit reply to this email and let us know you would like to be removed. We will be happy to do that. If you know people who might be interested in being on this list or who have signed up but do not receive this, please have them go to our web site to sign up or sign up again!

It has been awhile since you have heard from us. We have been quite busy with a growing school and the joys and challenges that come with that growth. We are winding down from a very full trimester, and it is high time to give you some quick updates and then make a couple of announcements.

Here are some highlights from this trimester:
• Our 6 returning teachers and 4 new teachers have done an amazing job lighting a fire in the hearts and minds of our students. The kids truly love learning, both in their class and home environment!
  • We have added 60 new students and add more each week.

  • We have enriched our history and literature studies to include a more complete overview of history and to make it meaningful and engaging with the books our students read together with their families.

  • We have added a number of parent support services - including a monthly evening meeting called "PIE nights" - Perspective, Inspiration and Encouragement. We have new classroom liaisons that serve as a bridge between the teacher, the parents of that class and the school. We offered training in various home schooling issues on the first days of school. And we added a Parent Reading Group that meets once monthly to enjoy refreshment and great conversation about the books our children will read right after our discussion.

  • We had our second Fall Classics Fundraiser at Tolosa Winery and it was a fabulous evening. We are still confirming the total raised!

  • We just celebrated our history this trimester with our own Pageant of the Masters - our own Renaissance Art Tableau. Each child's classroom put together a live model of a Renaissance painting complete with the history of the painting, the artist, the important elements of the piece, etc. Photos of the event are now posted at It was an incredible morning!

We continue to be amazed at how our parents, our students and our teachers move forward as pioneers during these early years of our school. We don't have it all figured out, but we feel that what is going on now is exceptional and there are only even better things to come in the future!

Here are a couple announcements for you:

  • At the request of many families, we are starting an Early Registration process, or Waiting List, for the school year 2008/2009. It will begin on November 26th (right after Thanksgiving) and will close on January 31, 2008. Details will be available on our web site beginning that same day.

  • Registration for our current families begins on February 1, 2008, and open registration for new families will begin on March 1, 2008. Parent Information Nights - required for our registration process - will begin in February. Keep you eye on that website for details as they are set in place.

  • Our website is being updated! Please visit to see the new look and many updates! There are calendars, slideshows, updated testimonials,etc. We have more to do and will be updating at least once a week, so stay tuned for more changes. One easy way to check out the latest updates is to click on the "blog" button in the menu bar at the top of the site.

We hope you are enjoying your fall and that you have a wonderful Thanksgiving. If you have any questions, you are free to email them to or give us a call at 805.548.8700. We'd love to hear from you!


Susie Theule, Director

Sunday, November 11, 2007

An Amazing Day

The Renaissance Tableaux History Day was such an amazing day last Friday. Our students not only were exposed to great art, they became it! This is what classical education is all about! Many thanks to our hard-working parents who make events like these possible. Here are two resources to give you feel for the event, also now posted on the website . . .

First, a great YouTube video put together by one of our parents, Marjorie Peterson.

Second, here is the still-growing Flickr Photo Set for the event:

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Sites for Students on the Website

We've recently been adding some links to our Sites for Students section of the website. It probably could use a bit more categorization, but its a start. Check it out at. . .

Attention Classical Academy Families: if you've got sites that your students use regularly, we'd like to hear about them. Just email the webmaster.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Weekly Update, November 7, 2007

Every week, enrolled families receive a Director's Update via email, here's this week's update. . . .

How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world. ~ William Shakespeare

Dear Parents -

Many of us are weary right now. We are reaching the home stretch of our first trimester in our 2007/2008 pioneering school year, and we have given of ourselves perhaps more than ever before. There are "good deeds" to be done yet, so it is important to find again the purpose behind our work. It is the easy thing to complain, or even give up - but together we need to remind each other that it is to light a fire in our children that brings us together. We don't do it perfectly at the school nor in the home, but if you are willing to see it, you will notice that things like the history day will throw its light far and wide in the life of our children. Watch for it Friday, look for those little shining moments in your home, and remind yourself that your good deeds - your hard work - truly has a purpose.

Special Announcement:

You will be receiving an email after this one with an attachment that explains the details of History Day. It is lengthy, but PLEASE READ IT. It tells you what time to be there, how we are offering childcare, how to make sure your child is ready, etc. I will keep this update short in order to free you up to read that email! Many hours have been put into this special event - an event meant to inspire our children towards the love of history and art. It is a day of celebration. How you approach that day will definitely affect the way your children experience the day. It isn't going to be perfect. Kids are going to lose pieces of their costumes, their beards will be crooked, they will wiggle and they will giggle when they are supposed to be still. This is a sign of LIFE, and we are going to celebrate that life and the lives of those that came before us this Friday! Take a deep breath and enjoy the life.

Thanks to all of you for again helping to pave the way for a wonderful event - to the history day committee, to our teachers, to our classroom liaisons, our resident artists, and to the parents who have greatly invested in this event being amazing!

Parents at SLO Classical Academy

Pottery - there is pottery to be picked up in the administrative offices directly across from our outdoor bulletin board. Doors will be open right before, during and after school.

Fall Classics winnings - there are also items from the Fall Classics Fund Raiser to pick up! Make sure you check the winners list and gather your items to bring home!

Notecards are on sale in the office as well - these were put together from our children's artwork sold at the fund raiser. They are $10 for a pack of 8.

Check out our website! There is all kinds of new stuff on there, including many form downloads, school calendars, a blog and slide shows. We're getting there!

Education at SLO Classical Academy

It's Progress Report time! Don't panic - we have the forms available in the office and online along with samples for you to peruse. Go to our updated website at - head to the resources page, down-loadable forms. Scroll down and you will see all sorts of goodies - the parent progress report form, the guidelines for filling them out, and samples from every grade level. Or, just click on this link:
The Word version of the Progress Report can be completed on your computer then printed out to hand in. If you really have difficulties downloading these, you may stop in the office and pick up hard copies.

2 COPIES OF YOUR PROGRESS REPORTS ARE DUE IN THE OFFICE BY THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 15th. The teachers will then have access to your feedback as they write their progress reports, which are due to our office by Friday, Nov. 30th. Thank you for honoring our deadline!

Have a great week - see you Friday!

Susie Theule

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

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Jacquelyn Moses gets it. . .

Jacquelyn Moses, a parent of a kindergartner, has this to say about their family's first year at SLO Classical Academy . . .
I'm writing this testimonial to describe the unanticipated blessings that homeschooling has brought to our family. Let me start off by saying I never wanted to home school. Ever since the birth of our oldest I have always looked forward to the day when I could send the kids off to school for a few hours and have a chance to catch up on house work and the millions of things that don't get done when you are trying to juggle kids, friends, church and ... well, ... life!

When my husband and I started to explore our options for educating our children we realized that we would not be able to afford private school, we don't live near a good public school and we weren't really excited about full time home school. After attending a Parent's Night at the school without me, my husband came home full of excitement over the Classical Academy program and I knew we had found something special.

Once I got over the initial fear of being a teacher and realized that education is a "full contact" sport I was all for it. We did have a few things to sort out at beginning of this year; we had a few questions and some minor glitches but for the most part, we've had a lot of fun.

I really believe that I have become a better mother to all 3 children because I'm approaching things differently now. I've always read stories to them, but using the Five in a Rowcurriculum has given me a structured way to teach my kids from any book I read. I've also been able to include my 3 year old and 1 year old in some of the most basic aspects of many of the lessons which teaches all of them to follow direction, extend their attention span, enjoy the world around them and be excited about learning together, working together and playing together. Approaching life as an educator instead of as simply a child care provider makes a huge difference!

One of the things that has helped me the most is knowing that the "real teacher" does the lesson planning and that she is available for reassurance and helpful suggestions whenever I need it. It is so comforting to know that the only way to fail at this thing is to quit. As it turns out, it isn't as time consuming or difficult as I thought it would be, who knew teaching kindergarten could be so much fun!

Renaissance Tableau this Friday!

At the end of most trimesters, we try and pull together a climax event that captures and embodies some of what the students have been learning during the just completed trimester. These events have been some of the highlights of the SLO Classical Academy experience. The kids get to see their studies come alive. Everybody is united in the challenge of working toward a goal together. The kids gain the invaluable experience of orally presenting poems, monologues and play parts. Its a ton of work for our teachers and families, but definitely worth it all.

This trimester the students are going to make some renaissance art come to life as they live stage several different art pieces. If you've seen the Pageant of the Masters in Laguna Beach or other such exhibits, you know what we mean. It should be a wonderful Friday morning (8:30 AM -11:00). Don't forget your cameras.

For those of you just exploring SLO Classical Academy, below is a slideshow from last Spring's Renaissance Faire. . . .

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Flickr Pic of the Week

Here's a happy middle schooler over at Anam Cre Pottery. He apparently had to be talked into this Academy Class, but then ended up loving it. . .

We've just updated the photos page at

Click over and check out the new built in slide show!

Attention SLO Classical Academy Parents: Did you know that you we'd love for you to add your photos to our Flickr collection. New photos are being added by families all the time. All you have to do is email the webmaster for the username, password and instructions.

Procedure for Pictures


Here are a few things to know when ordering pictures. . .
  • In you family file are your child's proofs.
  • You can download an ORDER FORM here.
  • After making you selection attach your proof to the form.
  • If you would like a class photo. You can find the numbered pictures on the bulletin board outside the office.
  • Write the # of your child's class photo on the top right hand corner of your form.
  • Orders /checks are due to the office by Nov.12-13. A late fee of $15 will be applied to any orders received after this date.
  • Please make checks out to IBG.
Thanks . . . SLO Classical Academy Office

History=the Swiss Army Knife of education

Thought-provoking quote on the value of history. . . .

The problem with history is that there's so much of it: more than enough to cherry-pick for propaganda purposes, too much to grasp comprehensively. The response is often cynicism or indifference: What does it matter whether Gettysburg came before Appomattox, anyway?

My answer is that a well-furnished mind is full of labeled shelves for receiving new knowledge, and the more shelves (i.e., context) you have, the more you'll understand. This includes chronology, as well as biography, philosophy, economics, etc. Or, as one website commentator remarked, history is the Swiss Army knife of education—relatively easy to acquire, endlessly handy for all disciplines. --Janie B. Cheaney

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Progress Report Forms available online now

Progress Reports for the first trimester are due Thursday, November 15. Everything you need to get it done is now available online here including several sample progress reports. All of this is intended to take the guess work and anxiety out of the Progress Report process. Don't freak out. Its not that hard.

new google calendar

Check out the new SLO Classical Academy google calendar at

So cool! Hopefully this will help us all keep track of all that's happening in our vibrant community.

resurrecting the blog!

Its been a year and half since we've posted. . . because we've been focusing on the website, but we'll see what we can do from here on. Speaking of the website, good stuff going on over there.