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Behind the Scenes at SLOCA

August 31st, 2017

Blog posts on Thursdays will generally focus on character, classical education, things happening on campus, student work, book reviews, and interesting articles that connect to what we are doing. Speaking of things happening on campus…

We sure hit the ground running this year! For many of us parents, last week may have been the first time we let ourselves start thinking about heading back-to-school. Summer is to be savored, after all.

But around our SLOCA campus, our staff was busy all summer preparing for a fabulous school year! Have you ever been curious about what happens on campus over the summer months? We caught up with a few members of Team SLOCA and got the scoop on all kinds of things that have been going on behind the scenes to get ready for this week (and beyond). Here’s what we learned.

In The Den (our school store and library), Emily, Brenda and their helpers were:

- making sure we have all the required curriculum and supplemental items available

- working to have healthier snacks

- creating a relationship with SLO Provisions to provide full lunch items in the school store:  sandwiches, soups, and salads

- working with Kruzeberg to have cold brew coffee available in the school store

- making room for new SLOCA gear

- working hard to ensure the library has all the curriculum our teachers need

- putting the library back together: cataloging and covering books, organizing, cleaning, and going through donations

Check out the new striking black wall in the school sore, and of course all of the fun new gear!

In the office, our staff was busy with:

- assisting with the creation of the new office space and moving around of personnel 

- training Kara, our new NOL

- continuing to train Kaitlyn, our new Admissions Assistant

- meeting with many families exploring our amazing school

- processing paperwork, immunizations, and school records for 52 new students (38 families)

- getting the new school year ready in our student database

- getting Smart Tuition all set for the new school year, reviewing charges, making changes and sending out invoices

Leveling the dirt for the shipping container

- creating schedules and class lists for approximately 310 students

- creating and sending out 8 summer updates

- creating 240 Parent Packets with all the information needed to know for the new school year

- cleaning, organizing, and preparing our teachers for the new school year

- getting ready for the shipping container that was delivered which is being used for storage, freeing up some of the smaller rooms around campus

Summer staff and volunteers hard at work! 

And on top of THAT, everyone worked through construction while the school district was here all summer installing a new fire alarm system!

Kristina Doles, Susie’s Executive Assistant and our HR Coordinator, spent the summer:

- helping Lindsey Cheney and Susie behind the scenes with ordering items and coordinating many of the campus upgrades

- helping to support teachers and their classroom needs

- preparing for the lead team and board retreat (July) and training week (August)

- creating systems for the new hire process

- tweaking contracts

- making sure staff are up to date on trainings and certifications

Cozy Faber, our Development Director, reports that she and her team were actively:

The new, roomier workspace for SLOCA Support Staff, in progress

- revamping our fundraising efforts for the 2017/18 school year, working on all sorts of new and exciting projects

- planning our gala event: Salute! 

(The venue for this night is really quite spectacular and after a few visits up there, we are sure that it's going to be a night that will knock everyone's socks off!)

- launching our new Foundation Circle Board

(This non-governing board is slated to be a major influence in our school community.  Not only by supporting us financially which will help in keeping tuition low, but also in providing connections in the community and offering advice in areas where members have expert knowledge.)

- rolling out an easy way for families to show their support of SLOCA while at the same time enjoying benefits and discounts: My SLOCA rewards! 

(This program will give all members a 10% discount in our school store and across many events that we host throughout the year.)

- undertaking a lot of data entry, program development, and training in how to serve our community better

Ashley Walter, our Friday Enrichment Coordinator/Dean Consultant, was occupied with:

- hiring safety team members (along with Erin)

- hiring Academy Class teachers (along with Caroline)

- revising parent/teacher handbook (along with Amy and others)

- planning our UMS team-building day

- working with Erin and Kristina to plan CPR/First Aid class and TB screening

- preparing for the staff presentation about safety and conduct

- preparing safety and playground materials

- planning lunch offerings (along with Erin)

- planning allergy awareness meetings

- planning family action plan follow ups 


As you can see, there was a LOT of activity happening at SLOCA all summer… and we didn’t even talk to all of our staff!

Our teachers also take time over the summer preparing their classrooms, getting lessons ready, researching ideas, and going deeper with their own learning. We asked some of our teachers to tell us about their summer adventures and enrichment, and here are a couple of responses:

I try to read at least one book connected to the time period we are studying. This summer, I have been reading a historical fiction novel about Nefertiti, who is famous for her beauty and was married to the controversial Pharaoh, Akhenaten. I was interested in learning more about this couple, and their imposed requirement on all Egyptians to worship one god, Aten the sun, rather than multiple gods which had been part of the Egyptian belief system for two thousand years. For an ancient culture that didn't change much for close to three thousand years, they certainly rocked the boat in many ways.

~ Jen Wright, Lower Middle School Lead Teacher

I feel fortunate because a good deal of the prep I need to do for school (reading old, interesting books) aligns pretty well with what I would be doing with much of my summer anyway (reading old, interesting books). 

The real difference summer makes for me is that I'm also able to travel and stay connected to contemporary cultural conversations and creative projects beyond the classroom. It's important for teachers to have a sense for how the books we assign speak constructively to the needs of the present moment. To slightly modify an idea from Karl Barth: a teacher is someone who is asking the right questions, holding the classics in one hand and a newspaper in the other. 

Travel highlights included a few weeks in New York, lounging upstate by the Hudson River, traversing teeming Manhattan streets with old friends in search of Chinese soup dumplings, and exploring the Met's medieval art collection at The Cloisters. I want one of those unicorn tapestries for my living room!

In addition to perusing the fantastic ancient literature on the docket for this year (The Iliad, The Republic, Antigone, The Tao Te Ching, The Way of Chuang Tzu, The Hebrew Bible, The New Testament, The Aeneid, Julius Caesar, and many more) other reading highlights from this summer include two fascinating books set between the wars in Europe: The Razor's Edge by Somerset Maugham, and A Time of Gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor. So many good books, so little time. 

~ Paul McCullough, High School Literature Teacher

Sounds like we are all in good hands and ready for a grand adventure! Thank you, Team SLOCA, for working behind the scenes all summer to prepare for a rewarding year, learning together.


You can also catch behind the scenes tidbits on our Facebook page from time to time, so check in over there too!