Monday, October 31, 2011

Magical Moment

Today's Magical Moment is by Joy Newman. Joy and Cade are a Track A family with Eli (Intermediate), Abraham (Kindergarten), Esther (4 years old) and Ezra (8 months, waiting in Korea).  This is their fourth year at SLO Classical Academy.

Mrs. Milligan has her students doing a home project with Don Quixote.  They must complete at least one project weekly that has to do with one of the five elements of literature: character, setting, plot, conflict, and theme.  Suggested activities include: drawing a map of the scene (setting), write a letter from one character to another (character), draw a cartoon (plot), etc.  The students may pick what they'd like or parents may help with suggestions.  Mrs. Milligan really worked some magic in the classroom. Eli came home and was excited about the home project and he was fully aware that Mrs. Milligan encouraged the students to do their best work with their best attitudes. I could tell he had fully accepted her charge.

Eli is a strong student in many areas, but writing isn't his favorite activity.  He probably dislikes creative writing more than just writing.  If he journals, I have to be specific about the topic and the length (i.e. write 3 sentences).  Several weeks ago, he knew that he wanted to write a short story about Don Quixote dreaming that he stumbled upon a castle and thought it was an inn.  He sat down with great excitement, and proceeded to write 3/4 of a page on regular binder paper, without skipping lines. A huge achievement for him! But the best part was seeing the pride reflected in his beaming smile and the care he demonstrated in writing his story.  He was visibly proud of his work when showing his dad later that evening.  Since then, he has proceeded to make a puppet stage, puppets and wrote a short script of Don Quixote mistaking the windmills for giants.  The magic here is that these activities are outside the realm of what Eli usually gravitates towards. It's moving to see his excitement and see him take responsibility for and pride in his work.  A huge thank you to Mrs. Milligan for laying out the charge in such a way that Eli would readily take it up!

Eli with his puppet stage

Friday, October 28, 2011

Free Friday

Friday is here once again!  Home projects are nearing completion and may need some finishing touches this weekend, but hopefully there will be time for some relaxation.  This is such a magical time of year here on the Central Coast!  Saturday there is a Sierra Club Hike in Reservoir Canyon (459-6752). Pismo Beach is hosting their "Pumpkins on the Pier" event.  Perhaps wandering through Arroyo Grande's Farmer's Market on Saturday is more your speed.  

Whatever you choose, remember to be Free by Five today.  Turn off your electronics and fully engage with family and friends.  Happy Weekend!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Parent Perspective

Parent Perspectives will show up on the blog from time to time. They are written by parents for parents to offer encouragement, tips and perspective on various aspects of home schooling.  If you'd like to participate, please email

Cozy and Jeff Faber have been involved with SLO Classical Academy for 4 years.  They have two daughters, Ava and Sia who are both in the intermediate level on track B.  Cozy is also the Development Director of SLO Classical Academy.

What Gives? Nobody Does it All...

 I put a lot of thought into how I wanted to structure this post—about how I schedule my home school time, about how while the days don’t go as I had planned, they usually end up having accomplished most everything I set out to do.   I took the time on Sunday night to write up an ideal “vision” of what my best case home school Monday would look like.  I took it hour-by-hour imagining what a gas it would be to compare my “best case scenario” to “WHAT REALLY HAPPENED!” You know, like one of those hilarious urban legends where the wife works her tail off all day long, the husband comes home and the house is a mess and as he cascades through the entrance he spies that lovely wife of his laying on the couch with a towel over her head, the kids in the yard mucking about and he disdainfully wonders what she did all day!  Of course, we have seen how she lured the cat off the roof, how the cable line fell from the sky out of nowhere and almost electrocuted all of the kids in the play group, how little Sally experienced her first bout of anaphylactic shock after peanut butter cookies and who knows what else.  His perception is simply that his children are unattended in the yard while their mother is lounging about.  The reality is so very different from the perception.    This is the type of entry I forecasted for this past Monday morning direct from our humble abode.  I did think I could come up with a funny anecdotal story to share -- ah, the joke was on me.

Monday morning as 7:00 turned into 8:00 and then 8:00 rolled right into 9:00, I noted how already things had strayed so very far from my musings of a healthy breakfast and math completed by 9:00.  What folly!  My two girls tumbled downstairs starving and specific about what they wanted: popovers for one and baked donuts for the other.  Knowing I was going to be writing my comparison of the day I thought “Ha ha, Cozy, this is a scheduling challenge for you…embrace it!  Have another cup of coffee; let the girls make their own breakfasts!  You are a homeschooler, that’s what THIS is all about!”  So that’s what we did.  One hour and two breakfast messes later; we were seated at the dining room table reading about Arduino and his plight as an apprentice.  Good times…

I think that perhaps we should have ended our homeschool day right there.  Maybe that would have been the best idea given the day that unfolded before me.  I did take notes at first, about how one was mad that the other had my focus and she therefore could do NOTHING more until my attention was back where she felt it belonged.  I wrote about how healthy it was that to relieve her anger, my fourth grader turned to a ½ hour on her flute in an attempt to blow the roof off of the house.  Just in case I wasn’t sure about the intensity of her dissatisfaction.

I ceased recording the hilarity in the deviation from my best laid plan compared to the reality of my life when I felt the exterior tips of my eyebrows lift involuntarily when all of a sudden – after years of place value practice—neither girl remembered how to write the number 220.   “MOM, I just don’t know, don’t get MAD at me, it’s not MY fault!”  Seriously—what have I been doing for the past four years?  I had another cup of coffee.

Unlike the way the morning rolled and lolly gagged from 8 until 9, the afternoon careened from noon into 1:00.  The kids were starving but I was motivated.  Motivated to complete every subject—motivated to report that I can have a perfect home school day, the same way that the moms on the You-tube videos have their 2 year olds complete ten frames in 20 seconds flat.  I AM as good as all that and my kids are better! Right?

I did push it, I know it’s only the second real week of school and I know that these two little lovebugs are not leaving for college next week, and maybe the pressure of doing everything right isn’t the best mode for our household.  I am generally an individual of moderation and imposing a day of spectacular upon everyone around me isn’t really fair. Looking back at the tones I took, at the vocabulary I chose to express my dissatisfaction, how spectacular was I?  Perhaps a flute and a little roof blowing in my case would have been a more appropriate choice. 

Anyhow, we did get everything done.  (Well, there was this little write up in history about the weather in Florence that I felt was better left for the Florentines…sorry Mrs. Milligan).  But when I discussed what had happened with my husband that night and flogged him with every detail and regaled him with the description of every eye roll and every frustration I felt during the day I ended up where I do every time.  I made a difference today.  I did not give up on my girls.  They were not suppressed to the lower half of a 4th

I vow to go lightly on Wednesday when again we are together at home.  My expectations are high and ever will they remain, but slowly….slowly.  Oh, and for sure: MATH IS GOING FIRST every morning from now on!


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

What's for Dinner?

photo by Joy Newman

Focaccia Bread

Okay, please don’t hate me today. I’m posting a homemade bread recipe but it’s super easy and doesn’t take as long as you think and your family will adore you for making it.  Cross my heart.
The recipe is written up for a 9x12 sheet pan, but I like to use a baker’s half sheet pan  (18x13) and double the recipe.   This way we have leftovers we have enough to share or to freeze. It can be eaten the next day but it doesn’t taste as good, in my opinion.  My kids don't even mind the red onion and thyme so please don't exclude those ingredients. They really help make this recipe. I like to make sandwiches with this, but it's also delicious served with soup or salad. Or eaten, slightly warm when nobody else is looking.

Martha Stewart and Janell

¼ c extra virgin olive oil, plus more for baking sheet
1 ½ T sugar
1 packet (2 ¼ t) active dry yeast
1 T fresh thyme leaves, chopped
3 ½ c flour, plus more for kneading
2 t salt
finely chopped red onion

1.     Lightly oil a rimmed bake sheet and set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine 6 T warm water with the sugar and the yeast. (The water should be 105 degrees to 115 degrees;  I just put some water in a measuring cup and briefly warm in the microwave. The water can’t be too hot or it will kill the yeast) .  Stir to dissolve and let stand until foamy about 5 minutes. (If your yeast doesn’t foam then it’s probably dead.  Start over with new ingredients.)  Add the oil, 1 c warm water and the thyme. Stir to combine.
2.     Add the flour and salt and mix on low speed until all the flour is incorporated, about 2 minutes.  Increase the speed to medium and continue mixing until a very sticky dough forms, about 3 minutes.  Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface. Knead dough with lightly floured hands until smooth and elastic, about 2 minutes.
3.     Place dough on prepared baking sheet, turning to coat with oil. Cover lightly with plastic wrap; transfer to a warm place and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes. (If you need a warm place, briefly turn your oven on to make it warm only, not hot and then turn it off. Place dough inside to rise.)
4.     Preheat oven to 425 degrees with the rack in the center of the oven.  When dough has doubled in size, press it out to fill the pan. Let dough rest for 10 minutes.
5.     Using the knuckle of your forefinger, press slight dimples into the dough.  Drizzle with olive oil, salt, more chopped thyme and the chopped red onion. Bake 20-30 minutes until the top is golden brown and the bread sounds hollow when tapped. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Make sure bread is cool before cutting.  Slice it up and serve with dinner or slice into squares, and then in half to use for sandwiches. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tips for Scrip

Kirsten and Bob Criswell are entering their second year at SLO Classical Academy.  They are a Track A family and have two children:  Camille (Primary) and Michael (Lower Middle School).  The Criswell family has been very successful at using Scrip and today, Kirsten is sharing her tips.

Last year, our first year at SLOCA, we were just working through the steps of being at a new school.  One of the requirements was to generate $200 in Scrip purchases. We had never heard of the program.   I got a head start over the summer by sending an email to SLOCAsh to see how the program worked.  I figured that we had to generate about $25/month to meet the requirement.  It was suggested to buy cards for groceries, gas and restaurants.  This was challenging because we do not shop at many of the big stores that participate in Scrip.  On that note, those categories typically offer a lower reward percentage on your spending dollar.  I began to think that this was going to be impossible for us to meet the minimum $200.  
I took the time and printed the entire Scrip list in search of the businesses that offered a higher percentage back to SLOCA.  Lands’ End was one of the better reward percentages.  I knew that Kmart and Sears were affiliated but their return percentages were lower.  Online, I was able to read the back of the Lands’ End card and realize that it could be used at both Kmart and Sears too.  I didn’t really shop at these stores either, but I knew this would be one way that we could generate our required Scrip donation. 
We asked grandparents and other friends to help with the fundraising endeavor.  When it was announced that for this school year, 75% of Scrip donations would be directly available to the families, we knew this would be a great way to ensure that our kids could participate in everything at SLOCA that they wanted to, such as Academy and Enrichment classes.  The other great thing is that 25% of the rewards still get donated to SLOCA. It’s a win-win. 
Somehow, we have convinced at least 4 families to give up their Costco memberships and shop elsewhere (Kmart and Sears) for similar items that they usually purchased at Costco (toilet paper, paper towels, Kleenex, household cleaners, pet supplies, car batteries, lawn mowers, tires, washing machines, mattresses, refrigerator, etc.)  In-store specials are great deals too.  With Costco increasing its membership fee 10%, it was another reason some decided to make the switch.  Meghan Smith let us know that she was able to buy other gift cards at Kmart using her Lands’ End cards (iTunes, Barnes & Noble, and restaurants).  For projects around the house, friends and family have purchased Home Depot and Ace Hardware (can be used locally at Miner’s), and Bed Bath & Beyond.  Starbucks and Jiffy Lube have been popular too.  We now use Vons cards to purchase gas for personal and business use.  Office Max is great for school and office supplies.  Shutterfly, Old Navy and the Gap are other favorites.  
We are really encouraging our friends and family to support this new shopping and fundraising method.  When our son attended public school and kids were asked to “sell” stuff (candy, chocolate, wrapping paper, magazines), we never participated because I hated asking my friends to buy junk.  Our friends and family can really get behind this fundraiser because we’re not asking them to spend additional money. This is dollar for dollar money that they are already spending on items they need and the companies are supporting our kids and SLOCA!

Thank you, Kirsten!  For more information on how to use Scrip or to make purchases, please contact Susanne Sanders at      

Just a reminder that school photos are this Wednesday and Thursday.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Years are Short

The trimester is coming to a close in a couple of weeks and deadlines are looming--home projects, progress reports, history day, etc.  In the midst of paper mache, work samples, clay, whatever the medium in your house, it can feel overwhelming.  Remember we are striving for excellence and not perfection.  As Susie Theule so eloquently stated in last week's update, sometimes we "must remember the importance of the good-enough parenting concept, or as Mother Theresa suggests, love not extraordinarily, but 'without getting tired.'"

Take a few moments to watch this video and remember that the years are indeed short. Happy Monday.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Free Friday

Take a big breath--it’s Friday.  Time to relax and enjoy the changing seasons. Can you feel fall in the air? Take a family hike in the woods and enjoy the beautiful colors that come only during this season. Cook up a pot of chili and a batch of cornbread, sit down together and break bread.  Remember it’s Free Friday–turn off your electronics by 5 o’clock and be fully together. Happy Weekend!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Classical Education: Part III

This is Part III in a series on Classical Education written by Troy Wathen.  Click here for Part I and Part II.  Troy is our Associate Director as well as a Lower Middle School teacher on Track A.  He and his wife, Summer, moved here recently with their two 
daughters, Faith Marie and Grace.  Both girls are in Lower Middle School.

“Why do we do it this way?” is a common question people ask regarding the methods and content of classical education. The curious thing about this particular question is that classical educators are asked it repeatedly when we have very good answers for the question while “modern” educators are seldom asked to provide sound reasons for the methods used in most classrooms across the country. I believe this is because most in our modern society have come to accept that those who write textbooks and those who use the textbooks know what is best for our children. However, an education without a clear philosophy behind it ends up lacking clarity of purpose. Furthermore, education becomes a process of teaching students to take packaged tests rather than teaching them how to think. As classical educators, this is why we teach the way we do—we want to light the fire of thinking in our students.

Regarding the methods, classical educators ascribe to the medieval process of the Trivium—grammar, logic, and rhetoric. Most educators agree that all students move through developmental stages from the concrete understanding of simple facts, to the logical connection of those facts, and finally, to the ability to pull these connections together and communicate them effectively. These stages are essentially The Trivium. Some of us also believe that grammar, logic, and rhetoric are necessary components of learning any subject regardless of one’s developmental stage. If I learn guitar, it is best to memorize the strings on the guitar (grammar), how to form notes, and how to combine those notes to make chords (the logic), and lastly, how to blend the individual notes and chords to create beautiful music (rhetoric). I personally, failed to take the time with the grammar of guitar so I remain limited in my ability to create truly beautiful music. I need to go back and re-learn the grammar and logic instead of memorize a whole bunch of chords. This is also why good readers begin with phonics and work their way to reading. The basic skills are essential for later flourishing.

Latin textbooks available in SLOCA's bookstore

Latin is a common classical subject choice that gets critiqued because of its lack of use in modern society. However, Latin is foundational for unlocking the system of language in general, and especially the Romance languages of Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, and Romanian. Latin further drives the student to truly understand how English works because it forces the decomposition of language in order to comprehend the purpose words play in the sentence. It presents grammar in a different form from English, demanding that the learner wrap his/her mind around what a subject, direct object, verb, object of the preposition, and adjective actually do in the sentence. This forced understanding enriches one’s mastery of English. The key to Latin is to appreciate the benefits and beauty of the language; something often lost on pre-adolescents and adolescents—especially for those whose significant adults agree that Latin is a “dead language.” It is far from dead. It only is to those who choose not to learn and appreciate the deep benefits of the process and content of Latin.

Due to space, I will tackle one last distinctive—great books. My definition of “great books” is those books that capture the essence of the human struggle. Some come at this struggle from the perspective of the value of bravery and valor in the face of conflict, some from our tendency to run from conflict or our inner struggle to do right. Others deal with the philosophy of how human motivation works and the struggle between good and evil. At the core, great books capture the human story that is shared by every human being in every generation. Sometimes it is necessary to understand the context of the time period to link the theme to us today, but most great books are timeless because we can relate to that which is common to all human beings. Great books acknowledge the grip of selfishness but call us to rise above to act with virtue. Most great books relate to other great books enhancing this story of human interaction with the world and with others who share this world. Great books help us to rise above the mundane and consider nobility of character and our struggle to attain the highest virtues. Most help us to see that life is better when we pursue the true, noble, and right. Lastly, great books are worthy of multiple reads because of their depth. C.S. Lewis said, “The sure mark of an unliterary man is that he considers “I’ve read it already” to be a conclusive argument against reading a work…Those who read great works, on the other hand, will read the same work ten, twenty or thirty times during the course of their life (emphasis mine). At SLO Classical Academy, we are just getting our students started by reading through the timeline three times from 1st grade to 12th.

There are so many levels to classical education, making it one of the most humbling and yet enlivening forms of education available to us today. If you are interested in learning more about the details of classical education, I encourage you to visit one of our School Tours offered each month or visit our website. Most who do wish they could go back to school. The great thing is that at SLO Classical Academy the whole family does get to go back to school. We welcome your intelligent pursuit of an education that suits your family.

Thank you, Troy for educating, inspiring and reminding us why we have chosen a classical education for our children and thus for ourselves.  Semper discentes (always learning together). 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

What's for Dinner?

photo by Joy Newman

This is such a delicious side dish!  If you balk at eating cauliflower, try it this way and see if you feel the same way.  Roasting the cauliflower gives it such amazing flavor.  I found the recipe a little salty so I have decreased the salt from Ina’s original amounts.

Garlic Roasted Cauliflower
Ina Garten, how easy is that?, serves 6

1 whole head of garlic, cloves separated not peeled
1 large head of cauliflower, trimmed and cut into large florets (to save time, I buy precut)
4 ½ T olive oil, divided
salt and pepper
¼ c minced Italian parsley
3 T toasted pine nuts
2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice

1.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

2.  Bring a small pot of water to a boil and add the garlic cloves. Boil for 15 seconds. Drain, peel, and cut the largest cloves in half lengthwise.  (Boiling the garlic enable easy peeling of the skins.  You can skip the boiling and just peel them.)

3.  On a sheet pan, toss the cauliflower with the garlic, 3 T of olive oil, 1 t salt and 1 t pepper.  Spread the mixture in a single layer and roast for 20- 25 minutes tossing twice until the cauliflower is tender and the garlic is lightly browned.

4.  Scrape the cauliflower into a large bowl with the garlic and pan juices.  Add the remaining 1 ½ T olive oil, parsley, pine nuts and lemon juice.  Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Toss well and serve hot or warm.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Workbox Tip from Jill Talley

The PIE team hosted a workbox seminar on Friday--did you attend?  Today we have another workbox tip from Jill Talley.  Jill and husband, Todd, are a Track A family with three children:  Karena (Primary), Violet (Kindergarten) and Daniel (Jr. K).  This is their third year attending SLO Classical Academy and Jill has been serving on the Board of Directors for 5 years.

I had heard about Sue Patrick’s Workbox System from a number of moms here at the school and went to the PIE team’s Workbox System workshop last year to get a feel for it. After hearing from other moms and seeing how the system works, I did a quick read of Sue Patrick’s Workbox System book and felt like this was something I needed to implement. I needed help staying ahead on my home school days and I knew that organizationally the home days were not going to get easier on their own.  As a matter of fact, with my two younger children also at SLOCA this year, the home days were only going to become more challenging.

Fast forward to today, I have implemented a lot of what Sue writes about in the books. For example, we do the Posters, the Science Centers, and I make sure my kids know that those “I Need Help” cards are very valuable (I tell the kids they are like a wild card in a card game) and to be used only when they cannot move forward with their work.  However, one area where I’ve actually added a lot is how I communicate to my kids what they need to. Sue talks about how there should be “very little extra talking” in the home school room and I agree with that. I get worn down pretty easily when my kids are consistently asking me to clarify something that could have been presented (by me) much more clearly.  

photos by Jill Talley

As you’ll see in the picture below, I’ve made a number of custom labels that I use so that my students know exactly what they are expected to do, even before they’ve looked in the box. As you all know there is a lot of repetition in our home day studies. I’ve made simple labels for those repetitive study areas on card stock with a Velcro back. Some of the labels I use are: Nature Journal, Poem Practice, Library Book Free Reading Time, Math Flash Cards, Sharing Assignment, and Home Project to name a few. This way the student sees the label and knows what’s expected of him or her. If my children need further instruction (about any specifics with an assignment), I include those specifics on a 3X5 card inside the box. 

The noticeable change I have seen, is that my children very rarely ask me what they need to do. The label communicates it first and, if needed, the 3X5 card drills down into the details of the assignment. Sue Patrick, creator of the Workbox System, says if your student doesn’t understand the assignment it’s not because the student is lazy or lacking intelligence, instead it’s because the teacher (you and me) hasn’t presented the assignment in a way the student can fully understand. 

Improving the communication with my kids during our home school days has been transformational for our family.  

Thank you, Jill, for sharing how the Workbox System is used in your home.  Do you have any workbox, organizational or home school tips you'd like to share? Please email if you have an idea.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Magical Monday

Congratulations to Colby Stith! His comic strip "Planet Marshmellow" will be in the Atascadero News every other week. Click here to read the wonderful article--Colby is referred to as a "Renaissance Youth" and Colby shares his love of Latin and Logic.  The Stith family is a Track A family and Amy Stith is one of our Track A Intermediate teachers. 

Also coming up on Saturday, October 29th is SLO Classical Academy's Down Home House Tours.  The three home school classrooms on this new tour cover a variety of ways to set up your home school space and represent a variety of home school classrooms. This tour gives SLOCA families ideas/suggestions/vision on how to set up an organized, enriching and thriving home school classroom at your kitchen table or in a designated room or area in your home.

The tour begins at 9AM and ends with a prepared lunch at the beautiful Talley Vineyards Tasting Room in Arroyo Grande.  The cost to attend the tour is $20 and includes lunch. Space is limited so sign-up in the office soon to assure your seat!  

Friday, October 14, 2011

Free Friday

Can you believe this was our eighth week of school?  The trimester is flying by! 

Friday has arrived once again!  Don't forget to be Free by Five--turn off your electronics and enjoy our hot, fall weather with family and friends.  Around town today there is a Sierra Club City Walk of the Mill Street Historic District (772-1875).  Pismo Beach hosts their annual Clam Festival this weekend (  Check out to find out more about exploring the Oceano Lagoon or the White's Point Vista.  Or, maybe take advantage of the warm evenings and stargaze in the backyard.  Whatever you decide to do, may you find rest and rejuvenation.  Happy Weekend!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Classical Education: Part II

This is Part II in a series on Classical Education written by Troy Wathen.  For Part I click here.  Troy is our Associate Director as well as a Lower Middle School teacher on Track A.  He and his wife, Summer, moved here recently with their two daughters, Faith Marie and Grace.  Both girls are in Lower  Middle School.

Last year I read a book entitled Education for Human Flourishing because the title captured an idea that I had been stewing on for a few years. The conception of education for human flourishing is essentially why I believe classical education is so important in this age of technological and cultural change. Though the world around us is changing at what seems a break-neck speed, there are many truths that remain constant. While technology can increase our productivity, leading to profitability and increased wealth, many are still finding that happiness is fleeting. Don’t get me wrong. Classical education is not the answer to all of modernity’s ills. However, as a model for fostering a life that flourishes, I have found no better educational philosophy.

At this point, a classically educated student would be encouraged to point out that I cannot make such a bold claim without supporting evidence. The reason classical education leads towards human flourishing is that we seek to offer an education that trains how to think and communicate rather than one focused on isolated subjects. Teachers in classical schools should recognize that their subjects are students even though the content of their teaching may be a certain field of study. It is important that students learn content, but it is far more important in this changing society that they learn how to process the content and how to integrate that content into their existing schema. When students are equipped with these skills to process new information, they have more potential to flourish as humans because they are better able to adapt to a changing environment.

Classically educated students also flourish because they are taught to enjoy a rich and robust historic, literary, artistic, and musical curriculum. It is common for the children of SLO Classical Academy to recognize and enjoy great art and literature. This enjoyment, in turn, leads to a fulfilling life of meaningful leisure as well as a deep appreciation for beauty. When education is seen as job training or preparation for a test, the true benefit is lost and a cheap fa├žade is presented in its place. When the goal is a well-rounded and deeply rooted education of the whole child for a life of human flourishing, education becomes a lifelong pursuit of those timeless virtues that produce a byproduct of happiness in the midst of the winds of change.

Stay tuned for my next issue on “why we do what we do” where I will discuss questions such as, “why Latin,” “why logic,” and “why 

Thank you, Troy! Next he'll share Part III of our series on Classical Education.  Just a reminder that Friday at 1PM  the PIE Team is hosting a session on workboxes.  Parents who currently use this system will be on hand to answer questions and explain how they use workboxes to keep organized.  Meet in the Lewis Library.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

What's for Dinner?

Fall has arrived here on the Central Coast, which means a nice cool, crunchy salad is just the ticket. All natives know that now is when the mercury rises and the beach calls.  I love the fresh taste of this salad. Buy a rotisserie chicken from Costco or another grocery store to bulk up on protein if you like.  I have also seen El Torito bottled dressing in the store. I haven't tried it so can't say anything about it, but if you try it and like it, please let me know.  No picture today--please forgive me!

El Torito Caesar Salad

For the dressing:
1 medium sized can green chiles, canned
3 T roasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1 large garlic clove
1/2 t salt
3/4 c olive oil
2 T red wine vinegar
3 T cotija cheese

Salad ingredients:
Romaine lettuce
tortilla chips, optional but very good
cotija cheese
red pepper, sliced into thin strips
chicken, optional

1. Whisk the mayo with 2 T water and set aside.  Toast the pumpkin seeds in a frying pan until fragrant and slightly brown.  Wash cilantro and pull off leaves from the stems.

2.  Place green chiles, pepitas, garlic, salt, pepper, olive oil, vinegar, 3 T cotija cheese and cilantro in a blender.  Add the mayo and water mixture and blend until well mixed. Taste dressing and adjust seasonings. Add more cheese, cilantro, or whatever is needed.  If not serving right away, cover and refrigerate dressing.

3.  Chop romaine lettuce, slice red peppers and shred the chicken. Crumble some cotija cheese and tortilla chips on top, add the dressing and mix well. Enjoy a nice salad for dinner!

posted by Joy Newman

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Art Supplies in Unlikely Places

Have you ever wandered through the art supply aisle and drooled over the many fun stickers, glues, glitters, and papers?  Having inspiring art supplies on hand needn’t cost a fortune. Remember all those macaroni necklaces from pre-school? Well, macaroni is inexpensive and today there are so many interesting pasta shapes available, macaroni is not the only option.  Don’t forget things like dried popcorn kernels and the many varieties of dried beans available today.
Maybe set out three materials and have everyone in the family create a self-portrait using only those items. Then hang your masterpieces in the hallway and create a gallery.  Play some classical music in the background and you’ve got the beginnings of a wonderful family evening.

To create more colorful creations, you can dye dried pasta.  Here's a link to a tutorial but basically, add some food coloring (the liquid kind, not the gel) to the bottom of a jar or a large ziploc bag.  Add just enough rubbing alcohol (or white vinegar) to cover the bottom of the jar (this helps the dye adhere to the pasta but won't be absorbed the way water would); add pasta to fill the jar half-way and shake.  Leave them out for the day and shake periodically.  Lay out some wax paper and spread the pasta in a thin layer to dry overnight.

If you've got some extra time, maybe make something like thisthis, or this.

If you create any macaroni masterpieces or something beautiful with beans, please snap some photos and send them in—we’d love to show them off on the blog!

Attention, Men!  Have you purchased your copy of Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman? There's still time to read the book and participate in the discussion scheduled for Friday, October 28th at 6:45 AM.  You won't want to miss it!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Magical Moment

Happy Monday!  In a recent weekly update, SLO Classical Academy's Director, Susie Theule, encouraged us all to be in the moment with our children. Today's Magical Moment is brought to us by an anonymous poster who felt inspired after reading the update. 

First of all, this e-mail is coming from the woman who is the queen of one more dish to wash and  one more load to fold.  I either have to really "book it" before our 8:30 start time or restrain myself until lunch time when it comes to those one more thing to do's.

With that said, on Monday, my son and I sat down to read from Renaissance Artists Who...   Before we began, he turns to me and says, "You know which artist I think I am the most like?"  Kind of a funny comment from a child who has terrible fine motor control, but is full of ideas.  I had been thinking for a couple of weeks that he is a lot like da Vinci, but I wasn't going to let on for fear of influencing what he wanted to tell me. 

He went on, "Leonardo da Vinci because he was interested in so many things."  I told him I had been thinking the same thing about him for quite some time.  We had a great conversation about the similarities and the differences between this genius and my almost 9 year old son.  

I distinctly remember thinking that I was glad that my mind was focused on what my son was thinking and not the next thing that I was hoping to do at the next available moment that afternoon.  

Thanks, Susie, for the encouragement to be in the present.

Thank you to today's contributor!  If you have a Magical Moment you'd like to share please email As you can see, it can be an anonymous post as well. 

Just a reminder that this Wednesday, October 12th is our Classic Story Hour at 9:30 in the Lewis Library. Denise Indvik (Track B Jr. K teacher) will be leading the story and craft hour this month. Spread the word!

Friday, October 07, 2011

Free Friday

It's Friday and tonight is the Venice Carnivale Auction at the Tiber Canyon Ranch! Hopefully next week we can share some pictures of the fabulous, festive event.  If you're not attending the Carnivale, remember to be Free by Five--be electronics and media free for at least a few hours and spend time with family or friends.

You've probably noticed the new blog design!  It will be a work in progress so don't be surprised if there are other changes, but the side bar is still the same--it just switched sides.

This weekend around the county there is a Sierra Club Hike to Gaviota Peak.  It's a strenuous, 7-mile hike that starts at 8:30 on Saturday (473-3694).  Cambria is hosting a Scarecrow and Harvest Festival Saturday and Sunday.  In Los Osos on Sunday is a free International Festival.  

Enjoy the weekend--fall weather is here!

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Classical Education: Part I

This is Part I in a series on Classical Education written by Troy Wathen.  Troy is our Associate Director as well as a Lower Middle School teacher on Track A.  He and his wife, Summer, moved here recently with their two daughters, Faith Marie and Grace.  Both girls are in Lower  Middle School.

School of Athens ~ Raphael

I have been asked to write a series of blog posts answering the question  “What is classical education?” Anybody who has spent time studying and practicing classical education should approach this topic with a fair amount of humility, recognizing that all of us are on a path at various states of ignorance. This was made even more clear to me as I came to be part of the SLO Classical Academy faculty. I have spent the last ten years building a classical school from the administrative side and trying to read about classical education and read classical literature, while many of the teachers here at SLOCA have been in the midst of learning alongside the students in their classes. At a recent meeting, I was amazed at the background knowledge our faculty possesses and how that understanding enriches the education our children are gaining.
In this first post, I want to highlight some of the insights SLOCA offers to classical education that might be lagging behind in other schools I have observed. First and foremost, classical education is a communal activity. Here at SLOCA, the whole family has the opportunity to learn together and within a community of other families. This is significant! In many classical schools, families pay to have their children educated by the faculty alone. This creates a subtle schism between the child’s learning and that of the rest of the family. Ideally, children should see that learning is a lifelong pursuit. I have seen that modeled here in the involvement of the parents and the teachers to be co-learners with the students.
A second exemplary area is the way learning is integrated. All classical schools attempt, and many succeed, in integrating the subjects. I believe this to be one of the hallmarks of a classical education—that the students recognize the world is cohesive. Literature does not stand alone as an island of study, but is influenced by the historical events, scientific discoveries, and the literature that has proceeded. The themes of history such as “Conflict and Conquest,” “Trade and Commerce,” and “Philosophy and Religion” that you will find in the Parent Handbook provide a clear system for unifying the study of all academic areas. These should be seen, not as unrelated ideas, but rather as interrelated concepts. The ancient university was built on the principle that knowledge is unified. I think we have all experienced the excitement of seeing how some bit of new learning fits with something we already know. At SLOCA, I have seen teachers and parents working to draw out those “aha” moments when students make a connection. Put all these connections together and the result is a well-educated and insightful young person who is able to think and communicate on a host of topics.
I believe that, just as the Renaissance brought about a re-birth of innovation in a host of disciplines, classical education in the 21st century will have a profound effect on this generation. Students at SLOCA are learning how to think and how to make connections, enabling them to solve some of the problems facing our society in this age just as classically educated men and women did in ages past.