Friday Faces: Upper Middle School - SLO Classical Academy
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Welcome to Down Home, San Luis Obispo Classical Academy’s blog! We are a classical school offering several options to make our education work for families with infants through high schoolers. Our signature hybrid program, which is part-time classroom and part-time home instruction, provides an engaging education for preschool through middle school (with full time options available). We also have a university model high school. This blog is meant to support and encourage on the home front because, in so many ways, the heart of what happens at SLO Classical Academy happens down home.

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Friday Faces: Upper Middle School

Good morning and Happy Friday! Today we are featuring our amazing teachers from Upper Middle School (UMS) at SLO Classical Academy. UMS is part of the logic stage where students begin to connect all of the facts that they learnt in the grammar stage and build the foundation they need to enter into the rhetoric stage in high school. Settle in and read on!

The non ‘human beings’ (ie. pets) that reside in my household are…

Stephanie: …our new-to-us dog Fyodor Dostoyevsky. We call him Fyo for short. He is an 8-month old black lab who is completely blind. We got him the day before school started this year, because . . . why not?

Matt: …Many lovely green plants; I enjoy them all, but have grown especially fond of a succulent Jade Plant named “Grogu,” which happily resides in my wife’s home office! In addition, just outside our household is an Orange Tree and a Fig Tree, both of which provide delicious fruits to us throughout the year.

Sarah: Our home is ruled by Her Royal Highness La Principessa Bellissima or, as we call her, Bella. (In our sillier moments we call her Lil’ Miss Fluffypants.) She is a rescue kitty who is part Maine Coon and all diva. Bella knows she is gorgeous and, while she can be demanding, she more than repays us with her companionability, affection, sheer cuteness, and apparent love. Her brother, Spezi, is all legs and love. Spezi is a sleek, lean, highly strung kitty who takes his territory-defending duties most seriously. Both cats are brown tabbies with luxuriant hair.

Roxanne: I am growing some pumpkins that I am very attached to! Also my bicycle lives inside my house, which makes it kind of like a pet.

Cade: Dwight Schrute, our cat, according to a couple of the Newman kids, is a member of the family. Nobody calls him Dwight, but rather “Kitty” or “Fat Cat.” “Fat Cat” weighs 18 lbs. and enjoys long naps on the couch. Or anywhere else in the house. Each night at bedtime, he sneaks into a room just before a door is closed and crawls under a bed. Sometimes, we wish we had a sweet, loyal chocolate lab instead of “Kitty” but most of the time we love “Fat Cat.”

If you could travel back in time to any place which we are studying this year (10,000 B.C. – 476 A.D.) which place would it be and why?

Stephanie: Choosing only one is so difficult! I would love to go to Uruk (after Gilgamesh learned his lessons). I have always been fascinated by that story.

Matt: Honestly, I am not super interested in traveling back in time…but if I had to, maybe a trip back to ancient Greece, where I could learn how to make Greek flatbread in the world’s first free-standing, pre-heated oven with a door!

Sarah: This is always a difficult question to answer. As a woman, there are not any other centuries I would really want to spend much time in. If I were a man of the patrician class, I would like to visit ancient Rome during the early Republic. It would be interesting to see what the culture was like before the decadence of wealth and empire set in. The political history of Rome before the Empire was an exercise in power sharing among the classes. It would be fascinating to see how that all worked. I would love to get a sense of whether the end of the Republic was inevitable, or if something could have been done differently that would have prevented the power grabbing of Marius, Sulla, Pompey, and Caesar.

Roxanne: Golden age Egypt, or Constantinople. I love the idea of visiting an ancient trade center.

Cade: Rome for sure. I certainly wouldn’t want to live there but being a fly on the wall to observe much of what we’re studying would be amazing.

My first car/bicycle/mode of transport was…

Stephanie: a Specialized mountain bike that I still ride today! For a car, I shared a Volvo 240 with my sister.

Matt: My grandfather’s sailboat; he taught me how to sail in Oyster Bay, NY.

Sarah: Up until the age of 14, I rode hand-me-down bikes from my older siblings. For my 14th birthday I received a beautiful, shiny Schwinn Breeze. It was electric blue with chrome fenders and graceful, flowing lines. This bike got me to the Hummelstown pool, to my job at McDonalds, carried me through college, and served as my commuter bike through the hills of the Bronx when I taught at Riverdale. I brought that Schwinn Breeze with me all the way out to California where I used it to explore the Monterey Peninsula while teaching at Santa Catalina. I still regret leaving it in the bike barn on that campus when I moved to Morro Bay.

Roxanne: A terrible old rusty brown pedal-brake bike. I always wanted a cute girly kid’s bike, but I was already so tall when I learned to ride that I graduated straight to an adult bike. I did go really fast on it, though!

Cade: The first bike I remember was a red, white, and blue Schwinn with a banana seat and an attached American flag flying high behind me. It was killer!


What was your favorite hobby you picked up during the pandemic and why?

Stephanie: I got back into knitting and crocheting. I started Ensio’s toddler blanket (yes, I am that behind), and the kids and I made crocheted water balloons. We highly recommend them; they result in a never ending water balloon fight!

Matt: A few months before our pandemic closure, I had taken the House of Bread (in Downtown SLO) “Sourdoughs” class, live in store. My interest in bread had been piqued after enjoying the “Air” episode of journalist Michael Pollan’s documentary series titled “Cooked,” in which he explores the relationship between wheat and humankind.

Sarah: I did not pick up any hobbies during the pandemic. I suppose I just did more of what I had always done–hiking, biking, reading, the New York Times crosswords, and letter-writing.

Roxanne: I picked up teaching again! Still my favorite hobby (and career).

Cade: Our family enjoyed daily walks around the neighborhood. It was great to be together outside, moving, laughing, and sharing the day with each other.

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