Friday, March 30, 2012

Free Friday

Rain, sun, clouds, cool temps and then warm temperatures--we've experienced it all this week on the Central Coast.  Hopefully, the weather will remain clear and warm up a bit.  

Our ocean unit is underway!  Perhaps this weekend would be a great time to go to the beach or explore local tide pools.  Bring a guide book and identify some sea creatures, collect shells, bird watch, or read on the beach.  Remember to be Free by Five o'clock and turn off all of your electronics. Sometimes we don't realize how tethered we are, until we step away.  One last reminder--the 20% discount at B Wise School Supply ends tomorrow.  

Happy Friday!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

What's on Your Nightstand?

SLO Classical Academy took to the streets, er playground, to ask a question: What books are on your night-stand?  

Tamzin Ritter
Anna Karenina

Chad Theule
The Art of War
Poke the Box
There's No Such Thing as Public Speaking
Twelve Ordinary Men

Taylor Tucker
Code of the Street
Readings for Sociology
Introduction to Sociology
Comprehensive Medical Terminology

Emily Keech
King Leopold's Ghost
Sister Bernadette's Barking Dog
Empire of the Summer Moon

Cade Newman
Kindle--What the Dog Saw
Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters
iPhone: The Missing Manual
Why a Son Needs a Dad
A Short History of Nearly Everything
The Cyclist's Training Bible

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

What's for Dinner?

Slow-Cooker Beef Ragu

photo by Joy Newman

I have a confession to make--I am not very adept at using my slow-cooker.  So, when I am brave enough to try a recipe and it tastes delicious, it's very exciting news!  We loved this dish and it's versatile, too--make pulled-beef sandwiches, serve over polenta or pasta, or toss it in a tortilla.  Somehow I missed the bit about cutting the roast in half so I didn't half mine and it cooked up just fine.  Give this recipe a try and let me know what you think.

Slow-Cooker Beef Ragu
Everyday Food, March 2012
Serves 6

1 medium yellow onion, diced small
3 garlic cloves, minced
6 T tomato paste
3 T chopped fresh oregano leaves (or 3 t dried)
1 beef chuck roast (4 lbs.), halved
salt and pepper
1 to 2 T red-wine vinegar

In a 5 to 6 quart slow cooker, combine onion, garlic, tomato paste and oregano. Season the roast with salt and pepper and place on top of onion mixture.  

Add 2 c water, cover and cook on high until meat is tender and can easily be pulled apart with a fork, 4 1/4 hours (or 9 hours on low). Let cool 10 minutes, then shred meat in slow cooker with 2 forks and stir in vinegar to taste.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Got smarts? How about heart?

Many families feel one of SLO Classical Academy's strengths to be our commitment as a community to fostering virtue and forging character.  The character education that naturally emerges from our history and literature studies helps us press on toward this goal.  It would be challenging to find someone who doesn't believe character counts, but at times our societal values as a whole don't seem to reflect this same belief.

A popular parenting magazine recently had a little boy on the cover dressed like Steve Jobs in a black turtleneck, wire rim glasses and his hand posed beneath his chin. Cute. Very cute. The cover story was on how to raise genius children.

To read the rest of the article, click here.  Then come back and share some ways your family is forging character.  Leave an anonymous comment if you like--this isn't meant to be "Look at our family. Aren't we so great?" but sharing within our community to encourage and challenge each other.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Magical Moments

Have you seen these beautiful post cards?  As you are out and about living life and sharing about our amazing school, try handing out a few.  They are located in the office--grab a few and stash them in your purse, diaper bag or car.

Have you checked out the website lately?  The Student Work gallery highlights artwork from around campus.  There is also a Parent Business Directory and some businesses offer discounts to our families.  

Are you ready for another week?  Happy Monday, everyone!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Free Friday

Can you believe our third trimester began this week?  We are on our way to discover and colonize the New World. What a fun, rich trimester we have ahead of us!

It is Friday and the weekend is here. Remember to be Free by Five o'clock and turn off your electronics.  Stepping away from electronic worlds allows us to be fully in the moments at hand.  If the rain passes by this weekend, Adventures with Nature is hosting two events:  Birds at the Oceano Lagoon and The Unnatural History of Morro Rock. Both are scheduled for Saturday--call 772-2694 for more information.  

Happy weekend!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Q & A with Troy

Our Associate Director, Troy Wathen, answers some commonly asked questions about SLO Classical Academy's unique program.  If you have family or friends interested in learning more about how our school works and what makes it special, these are great posts to refer them to. (Click here for our first and second Q & A.)  Better yet, invite them to attend a Campus Tour (the third Wednesday of every month) or attend a Parent Preview Night

Why is an independent classical education any better than a publicly funded one?

The primary difference between an independent school and a publicly funded (charter or public) school is who gets to call the shots. Because we are independent, we have no entity other than our parents and students whom we must please. Having been at a charter school in between here and my previous independent school, I now have an even greater appreciation for a culture of learning rather than one of assessment. The assessment culture of modern schooling is suffocating. In my humble opinion, parents are much better judges of learning than bureaucrats, yet most testing data is for the decision-makers in government rather than the educators and parents. Data-driven decision-making is the buzz-word in modern education and no publicly funded school can escape the pressures associated with this philosophy. The keys to education are inspiration (teachers and curriculum), participation (whole families), and the curricular path (logically connected and rich in content). It is very difficult for these three to converge when everyone is stressed about test results.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

What's for Dinner?

Coconut-Lime Chicken Noodle Soup

photo by Joy Newman

If you like Thai flavors, you'll love today's recipe. This soup is so bright and fresh tasting.  It's easy to make and is gluten-free to boot!  Now, whether or not your kids will like it, not so sure about that. Mine only ate the noodles. Under duress.  Telling them that in some cultures it is polite to loudly slurp noodles helped a little.  The jalapeños were surprisingly mild and added so much flavor so don't skip them.  The noodles and fish sauce can be found in the Asian section of your regular grocery store.

Coconut-Lime Chicken Noodle Soup
Everyday Food, March 2012
serves 4

6 oz. dried flat rice noodles
3 1/2 c low-sodium chicken broth
2-inch piece peeled fresh ginger, cut into 1/4-inch thick rounds
1 can unsweetened coconut milk
3/4 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast, thinly sliced
6 T lime juice (3 limes)
3 T fish sauce
2 t light-brown sugar
1 jalapeño, thinly sliced
3/4 c packed fresh cilantro leaves

Soak the rice noodles according to package directions; drain.  In a large pot, bring broth and ginger to a boil over high. Reduce heat to medium, cover and simmer 10 minutes.

Add coconut milk to broth and return to a simmer. Add chicken and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 3 minutes.  Stir in lime juice, fish sauce, brown sugar, jalapeño, and 1/2 c cilantro; cook 1 minute.  

Stir in noodles and serve immediately, topped with 1/4 c cilantro.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


We love books! If there is one thing classical home educators collect (aside from math manipulatives) it is books, right?  So then the question becomes where and how to best store them.  After cataloguing your home library, how about building some bookshelves out of rain gutters?  Look in our kindergarten classroom:

photo by Joy Newman

photo by Joy Newman

Rain gutter shelves are easy and fairly inexpensive to install and the book covers are visible. No more looking for that one book among the others.  Here is an easy tutorial.

Take a look at some other fun bookshelf ideas:

How do you make your books easily accessible to your family?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Magical Moment

The Lost Colony and Roanoke Island
“Find the Colonists!”

Mrs. Perneel's class had a wonderful last day of the trimester when they found an old leather journal in their classroom after lunch recess. Inside, they found a clue that led them on an adventure to find the lost "mommy colonists" hidden around SLO Classical Academy.

They pretended to be Governor John White and his team arriving on Roanoke Island.

"Some of the colonists want to leave this settlement to travel to the Chesapeake Bay."

Immediately, the children were off to the map locating the real Chesapeake Bay. Still searching, they left the classroom settlement and discovered Kate Scott (in full colonial garb!) wandering about with no food.  She had a message for the children and another clue.

“Some of the colonists wish to leave this settlement to live with the friendly native people on Croatoan Island.”

The children read the note and looked at the picture clue of a book.  Next, they set off for the bookstore and the library to continue the search.  After much seeking, they found Maureen and Pamela hiding on the island.  The lost colonists had a new clue and message for the children.

“Some of the colonists were captured by the Spanish during an invasion and were taken away by boat.”

While looking at a primitive picture of the playground shed and the gardens, the children set off to rescue the moms from the Spanish prison.  They were so happy to discover Brandy and Penny and help them out of the shed.  The poor "prisoners" were squinting as they stepped into the outside sunshine.

The children were thrilled to have solved the mysteries and freed the mommy colonists!

It was such a treat to watch history come to life for these first and second graders. They were so excited to create their own maps and clues once they were back inside the classroom! A perfect end to a rich, wonderful trimester.

Wow! Thank you to Mrs. Perneel for sharing this amazing activity! And, thank you to all the moms who participated as well.  Just a reminder that tonight at 7PM in the library, there is a parent training covering this trimester's history. Hope to see you there.  Happy Monday!

All photos taken by Jenny Curzan and edited by Joy Newman.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Free Friday

photo by Cade Newman is Friday once again.  Time to unwind and recharge. What's on your weekend agenda?  Maybe a hike, some fishing, a long bike ride?  Perhaps a trip to B Wise School Supply is in order--remember they are offering SLO Classical Academy families a discount for the month of March.

Whatever you choose, remember to be Free by Five o'clock and turn off your electronics.  There is no substitute for real-time, face-to-face interactions with those you care about.  Wishing you a relaxing weekend!

Thursday, March 15, 2012


Is this you?  Are you feeling burnt-out?  

Wikipedia defines burnout as "long-term exhaustion and diminished interest."  Education is similar to parenting.  It's easy to be convinced that you aren't doing enough--a different (spelling) curriculum would be better; you should be starting your day earlier; you need more art at home, etc.  

Trimester three starts next week. If you're feeling burnt out (or even if you're not), use this time to recharge. Revisit your Mission Statement (you wrote one, right?) and remind yourself of your family's goals, your goals for each individual child, your goals for yourself.   Revisit your home day routine--maybe things could be switched up--math first instead of last, a longer lunch break in the middle of the day.  As spring is approaching, think of creative ways to get your family outside--handwriting in the driveway, hopscotch math, history reading in the tree house.  If you're feeling out of fresh ideas, look online or ask others at school. One of our strengths here at SLO Classical Academy is our community--we are a community who gladly shares and supports one another. There is a wealth of information and ideas amongst us--take advantage!

The path we have chosen may not always be the easiest one, but the rewards are great.  Semper discentes.

SLO Classical Academy is a community that forges character, fosters wisdom, and nurtures a lifelong passion for learning.

                                             {source}                                   {source}

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

What's for Dinner?

Irish American Soda Bread

St. Patrick's Day is Saturday and as you can tell, I am a huge fan of St. Patrick's Day.  My maiden name was Bailey, so I like to claim some kinship with the day (even though our name is English in origin).  Maybe you were expecting a corned beef and cabbage recipe but truth be told, my husband usually makes the corned beef. Corned beef and I, we don't get along so well. But, I can make Irish Soda Bread. Not sure it really goes so well with the meal the way I make it, but it sure tastes good!  The recipe I use calls for raisins and caraway--I've never used those and instead substitute the dried Berry Medley from Trader Joe's. The result? A huge scone, that is delicious slathered with butter.  So, top of the morning to you, and wishing you the luck o' the Irish!

Irish American Soda Bread
Joy of Cooking and Joy
8 servings

1 2/3 c flour
2 T
1 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 c raisins (or other dried fruit)
2 t caraway seeds
1 large egg
2/3 c buttermilk
4 T warm, melted unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees, or 350 degrees if using a loaf pan.  Grease your loaf pan, or baking sheet.  Whisk together in large bowl the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Stir in raisins and caraway seeds.

In another bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk and melted butter. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir just until the ingredients are moistened.  The batter will be stiff but sticky.

Scrape the batter onto the baking sheet in a mound 6 to 7 inches in diameter or scrape into loaf pan.  Use a sharp knife to slash a large X about 1/2 inch deep on top of the batter.  Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes on baking sheet, 45 to 50 minutes in loaf pan.  Transfer bread to rack to cool before serving.

I just saw this recipe for Whiskey-Glazed Corned Beef. It looks delicious so I'm going to give a try on Saturday.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


We asked our teachers to tell us about a teacher in their own lives they would never forget. Today we hear from Jenna Burns.  Jenna is in her third year of teaching History and Language Arts for Upper Middle School and High School at SLO Classical Academy.

My first favorite teacher was my Kindergarten teacher.  He was young, handsome, kind, and  . . . my first crush.  He would mix one jug of colored water with another jug of a different hue to form a brand new color.  I thought it was magic.  One day on the playground he offered to help me tie my shoe.  I wanted him to think I was grown up so I told him no thanks.  I spent the whole recess trying to tie my shoelaces without any success.

My second favorite teacher was my First Grade teacher, Mrs. Brown.  She would jump up on tables to show off her socks (which always featured different cartoon characters).  She had so much energy!  One day she caught me eating a tootsie roll in class.  I cried because I had broken the rules and disappointed her.

The teacher who really influenced me, though, was my high school AP Literature teacher.  She was loud, and fun, and drove a motorcycle!  She loved literature, and she really cared about us.  Once we had to write an in-class essay on a poem, and I was the only person who saw the deeper meaning of the poem – everyone else had to redo the essay!  The comments she wrote on my paper made me feel special and though I had always known I would be a teacher, it was then that I decided to be an English teacher.

It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.  ~ Albert Einstein 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Magical Moments

 photo by Jamie Foster

photos by Joy Newman

 photos by Jamie Foster

photos by Jamie Foster

Wasn't Friday's Runaissance fun?  It was magical--seeing our community in red, flooding the Bob Jones Trail; historical celebrity sightings; smiles and laughter on a beautiful Central Coast day.  Thank you Cozy and team for a wonderful fundraiser!  Money is still trickling in so stay tuned for the final number. Happy Monday!

Friday, March 09, 2012

Free Friday

It's Friday! Your progress reports are all done and turned in (right?) and our Runaissance starts today at 10 AM.  Remember to dress your kids in their Runaissance t-shirts, apply sunscreen and bring your own water. Please leave wheels and pets at home. Check your email for more details. Most importantly, let's have a good time as our kids put citizenship into practice.  Thank you SLO Classical Academy families and supporters!

A couple of weekend reminders--it is Friday, so remember to be Free by Five o'clock and step away from your electronics.  Our beautiful weather makes it easy to be outside and be together.  It's also time for Daylight Savings.  Remember to set your clocks one hour ahead before bed Saturday night.  See you at the Runaissance!

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Q & A with Troy

Our Associate Director, Troy Wathen, answers some commonly asked questions about SLO Classical Academy's unique program.  If you have family or friends interested in learning more about how our school works and what makes it special, these are great posts to refer them to. (Click here for our last Q & A.)  Better yet, invite them to attend a Campus Tour (the third Wednesday of every month) or attend a Parent Preview Night

What are some of the hidden benefits parents receive through a SLOCA education?

While many may think that SLOCA is a two-day program, this is far from reality. Behind the scenes, the curriculum committee works for months reading books and history narratives to provide the curricular guidance to the teachers and parents. While the teachers are guiding instruction on the days the students are at school, they are also providing the reading materials and activities to carry out at home. Many homeschoolers have chosen to follow a packaged curriculum because a well-planned classical education takes great effort to organize and implement. The folks at SLOCA do much of the behind-the-scenes work so the parents don’t have to. It may still seem like hard work because restoring an educational edifice that has been lost over generations takes time and fortitude. By including the school and parents in this process we are increasing the base of classically educated individuals who are engaging in our culture. This is a beautiful thing.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

What's for Dinner?

Chocolate Stout Layer Cake with Chocolate Frosting

Why am I posting a cake recipe in early March?  Because when I hear "March" I think "St. Patrick's Day" which makes me think of corned beef and cabbage which reminds me of Ireland which makes me think of "Guinness" and when I hear "Guinness" I think of this cake (even though it was in an October issue). Yes, it has beer in it and it's unapologetically delicious.  The recipe suggests using a chocolate stout, if you can find it.  They also suggest Guinness, Sierra Nevada Porter or Samuel Adams Honey Porter.  Maybe this is the perfect dessert to go with your corned beef--give it a try and let me know!

3 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 1/4 c flour
2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
14 T unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 c plus 3 T sugar
3 large eggs, separated
3/4 chocolate stout, regular stout or porter
2/3 c freshly brewed strong coffee

1 lb. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 c heavy whipping cream
1 t instant espresso powder

For the cake:  Position the rack in the center of oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter and flour two 9-inch round cake pans. Line the bottom of each pan with parchment paper; butter and flour parchment.  Place chopped chocolate in medium metal bowl. Set bowl over saucepan of barely simmering water and stir until chocolate is melted and smooth.  Remove bowl from over water and set aside.

Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl to blend.  Using electric mixer, beat butter and 1 1/4 c sugar until fluffy and pale yellow, about 2 minutes. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating until well blended after each addition. Beat in lukewarm melted chocolate, then stout and coffee.  Beat flour mixture into chocolate mixture in 2 additions just until incorporated.

Using clean, dry beaters, beat egg whites and remaining 3 T sugar in another bowl until stiff but not dry. Fold 1/3 of egg whites into cake batter to lighten, then fold in remaining egg whites in 2 additions.  Dived cake batter between prepared cake pans; smooth tops.  Bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes. Transfer cakes to racks and cool in pans 20 minutes. Invert cakes onto racks and remove parchment paper. Cool completely. (Can be made one day ahead. Cover and store at room temperature.)

For the frosting: Place chopped chocolate in medium heatproof bowl.  Combine whipping cream and espresso powder in medium saucepan. Bring cream mixture to simmer over medium-high heat, whisking occasionally. Pour cream mixture over chopped chocolate; let stand 1 minute, then whisk until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Chill chocolate frosting until slightly thickened and spreadable, stirring occasionally, about 2 hours.

Using serrated knife, trim rounded tops from cake layers so the tops are flat. Place 1 cake layer, trimmed side up on serving dish (cake plate or cardboard round, etc.). Drop 1 1/4 c frosting by large spoonfuls over top of cake layer; spread frosting evenly to edges with offset spatula or butter knife.  Top with second layer, trimmed side down and spread remaining frosting evenly over top and sides of cake.  (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.  Let cake stand at room temperature at least one hour before serving.)

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Student Work

Have you ever stopped and really looked at the wonderful artwork around campus?

Catherine Pardeilhan, the Lower Middle School art teacher, and her students calligraphed Latin proverbs.  


Portraits of King Henry VIII in one of the Primary classrooms:

And, the Bard himself, also by Primary students:

Beautifully done, students!

Monday, March 05, 2012

Magical Monday

click on the collage to see it larger

Wasn't Thursday night's Math Mania amazing?  It was a truly magical night of math and fun mixed together, but the most magical element was seeing how proud our students were of their games.  Thank you parents for being coaches and encouragers of your students; for getting out the glitter and the glue gun; for partnering with teachers and going that extra mile. You are making memories that will last a lifetime.

Happy Monday!

Friday, March 02, 2012

Free Friday

Last night's Math Mania was such a fun night!  All of our students put great effort into designing their games and it showed.  Great job students (and parents)!

It is Friday once again and the scene above looks like the perfect place to be Free by 5 o'clock.  Don't have a hammock? Oh well, unplug and step away from your electronics this weekend and bask in the warmth of time together with family.  Curl up and start a new family reading book, bundle up and look for constellations, or go for a hike.  May you emerge from the weekend rested and recharged.  Happy Friday!

Thursday, March 01, 2012


Action springs not from thought, but from a readiness for responsibility.  ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Our character trait for March is Responsibility:  basing decisions on practical wisdom and good sense, being dependable in carrying out commitments and duties, and being accountable for one's words, behavior and actions.

Daily or weekly chores are a common way to help teach kids responsibility.  Here are some fun ideas for chore charts:

2.  Wooden peg board etsy
3. Chore Dice  Family Fun
5. Job chart  Family Fun

How do you teach responsibility in your home?  

SLO Classical Academy is not affiliated with any of the above sites.