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 info@sloclassicalacademy.com 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 talley.jill@sbcglobal.net 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 academyclasses@sloclassicalacademy.com.

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 volunteers@sloclassicalacademy.com .

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!

Susie


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 directors@sloclassicalacademy.com 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.


Parents

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.


Education

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
academyclasses@sloclassicalacademy.com


Events

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 julie-schuler@sbcglobal.net . 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.

Susie

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:

Parents

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!



Education

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 academyclasses@sloclassicalacademy.com


Events

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!

Susie

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.”