A Day in the Life - LMS/UMS Full Time Program - SLO Classical Academy
Inquire Visit Donate
San Luis Obispo Classical Academy San Luis Obispo Classical Academy

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.

Semper discentes—always learning together.
Subscribe to Down Home:

blog sponsors

A Day in the Life – LMS/UMS Full Time Program

Happy Friday! We hope you have some fun plans for the Memorial Day weekend coming up. Today we have a special guest post by Matt Philipp, Learning Lead for our Lower Middle School (LMS) and Upper Middle School (UMS) Full Time Program. We here at Down Home asked Matt to give us a little insight into what the home days on campus look like for LMS and UMS, and Matt did not disappoint! So grab a favorite hot beverage and settle in.

5:00 AM

Not sure why, but today I find myself fully rested and wide awake thirty minutes before hearing any alarm. My wife Teresa and I go to bed pretty early on school nights because she works East Coast hours remotely out of our home near Mitchell Park. I quietly step outside onto our front porch to enjoy the chilly marine layer obscuring Cerro San Luis, feeling grateful to be spending these moments in my life so close to our mother ocean.

5:30 AM

An automated OXO pour over coffee machine begins brewing our ritualistic cup of coffee. I wasn’t a coffee drinker before I met my wife, but since then we’ve definitely spent way too much time overanalyzing how we prefer to prepare our daily dose! The savory aroma emanating from our noisy grinder preparing Peet’s Café Domingo beans for today’s pot smells comforting. I fill her space-age coffee mug (a gift from a tech company she used to work for), add a splash of half and half, and deliver it to her office, where she’s already in a Zoom with her client. She’s pretty amazing.

6:00 AM

Check my daily schedule, follow up on parental emails, and finalize our line-up for tonight’s SLOCA MS Boys Volleyball match…it’s going to be a long day, most likely about twelve hours between 8:00 AM and 8:00 PM. I’d missed coaching since moving from DC to SLO four years ago; athletics provides this unique sort of classroom where kids receive opportunities to learn lessons that can only arise spontaneously during competition. My favorite part is discovering aspects of these kids’ personalities that may not be fully apparent while we’re together on campus for academics.

7:00 AM

Reheat the other half of a ‘healthy breakfast pizza’ I whipped up yesterday morning to use up our leftover Indian food; it smells (and tastes) pretty delish due to dolops of Palak Paneer (spicy spinach curry) from Shalimar. It hits the spot, especially paired with orange slices from fruit we pulled last weekend off a generous orange tree living on the property we rent.

8:00 AM

Quickly pack my lunchbox, grab a water bottle, give my wife a quick kiss, and drive about 1.5 miles to SLOCA. I miss commuting to work on my old bike, but coaching means that most school days this spring have ended with a 15 mile round trip to/from the gym we rent at Loma Vista. Tonight’s match is the end of our season, and I’ll be driving our van Artemis to Paso. I’m feeling bittersweet; volleyball season will have come to an end, but my invigorating morning bike commutes up Grand Avenue will begin again!

8:15 AM

Catch up on life at SLOCA’s picnic tables with our Full-Time (FT) Track ‘A’ students, who are in the FT Program on the days Track ‘B’ is in classrooms, and with my amazing co-teacher, Jordan, aka “Ms. Martinez” to her fan club, uh, I mean our kids!  🙂  She’s incredibly stylish; we admire one student’s strong sock game, which prompts me to admit to her that I’m wearing my own pair of good luck socks, which were a gift from my sister this past Christmas. From my perspective, the primary task of any educator is to connect with kids; fortunately for us, Jordan is one of the most naturally gifted connectors I’ve met in my first 12 years of teaching.

8:35 AM

Our Lower Middle School (LMS) students head across the street to a classroom on our High School campus, while our Upper Middle School (UMS) students take a look at our agenda on the dry erase board and their Grid, and then make their plan for today’s home day work. During this time, I ask the kids who are with me this morning if they’re willing to pose for a “Day in the Life” image, and they’re pretty awesome (as you can see above), as usual.  Today I’ve kept a 6th Grader with my UMS group, so he and I can do some intensive 1-on-1 math work together while my UMS kids get to work putting finishing touches on their essays for Mr. Newman and Mrs. Ridley, reading about the Ancient Roman World, and completing their History Reflection Journals (HRJs).

I feel pretty fortunate to have been a small part of creating the FT Program’s reliable rhythm of structured and casual time during our on campus home days this school year. Our mantra this entire year has been, “When we know better, we do better.”

9:15 AM

A pretty cool thing happens with the 6th Grader I’m working with this morning: He catches an error that I make on my dry erase board, which earns him a tiny box of Mike & Ike’s!  He completes both today’s & Friday’s work, which will enable him to enjoy all day tomorrow (Friday) with his Grandma, who’s visiting from the Midwest.  It’s amazing how time flies when you’re working hard while having fun…next thing we know, it’s:

10:10 AM

I can hear the happy buzz of LMS FT students returning from across Grand Avenue to join their friends at today’s Recess.  For me, it feels like a good sign that we consistently need to herd kids out of our cozy FT Room by 10:15 AM to go run around our playground and burn off that MS energy.

Which gives me a few precious minutes to head over to visit my friend Michele at the Den and enjoy my complimentary decaf nitro cold brew as a SLOCA Rewards Member!  I enjoy a few sips, and save the rest for lunch.

10:25 AM

Recess ends, and our other teacher’s aid Alexie, aka “Ms. Hovis,” joins the FT team. Our LMS kids adore her, and it’s always fun to observe them excitedly running up to her as she arrives on campus! Last fall we learned that sixteen MS students between Grades 5 and 8 were a bit more than we could sustainably support, which makes Alexie invaluable. Our LMS students need a bit more side-by-side connection and academic support.

Magistra Gerhardt arrives to provide our FT students with Latin support.  Today we have a 7th Grader who’s feeling a bit anxious about missing school yesterday; it felt great knowing that she’d be able to catch up under expert guidance provided by my marvelous colleague, Pam. I learn so much from more experienced teachers, and there are so many aspects of Pam’s style that I admire. It’s truly been a blessing to have her join us four days every school week, which enabled us to increase Latin accountability.

11:15 AM

Ms. Ritzke arrives to provide FT students with Science support; today we have a 7th Grader who missed last week due to COVID, so it felt great to know that he’d finally be able to take his Science Test under expert guidance provided by another brilliant colleague. They disappear off to the Lo-Fi Room for a quieter assessment space, and a few students request that I read The Eagle of the Ninth. We have fun reading through the first two chapters, and by the end Ms. Ritzke has rejoined us.  Roxanne seems amused by outrageous sound effects I add to a scene where a fierce Briton brings his chariot drawn by four horses to a screeching halt inches away from our Roman protagonist. The kids are even more amused after I wonder aloud if this seemed similar to Fast and the Furious.

The students are all grinding away on their Grid work, and Ms. Ritzke has an eye on our FT Room, so I run errands to the Office, delivering the volleyball barn key to Coach Bruntz’ mailbox (her MS Girls season will still be going next week), and picking up a bag from Mrs. Enney (our interim AD…she has at least three full-time jobs from what I can tell…most importantly, she’s amazing) to collect team jerseys after tonight’s match. I love seeing Connie, and check out her sign letting me know what exactly we’re celebrating today…she’s created an incredibly festive sign in honor of Cinco de Mayo.

Our program’s fortuitously located just steps away from the Office (above)

In the staff room I run into my friends Nicki and Will, who run the FT Program at the Primary and Intermediate levels.  Their lunch is a bit earlier than ours, and I can sense that their kids consistently require more hand holding than my MS kids.  I admire them, and honestly don’t know how they do it!

12:10 PM

Pull my lunch from our cool, retro fridge (thank you Mrs. Theule!) and microwave it while investing 15 minutes into an impromptu listening session with a couple of students who needed to unload some stress. Hopefully my open ended questions helped them gain enough perspective to get to their lunch recess and finish their day well.

12:30 PM

Enjoy a quick lunch to connect with the awesome UMS Team outside Sarah Weinschenk’s Latin classroom. This adult time is always such an important mental reset for my brain. As usual here in SLO, the weather is stunning!

1:00 PM

My UMS students and I walk across Grand Avenue and see the horses on Poly’s campus before veering right through the gate onto SLOCA High School’s charming campus. We head back to Paul McCullough’s classroom (aka Athens House), and again I ask the kids who are with me this afternoon if they’re willing to pose for another “Day in the Life” image.


Walk back to SLOCA’s main campus with my students.  With all of our Grid work complete, this afternoon has been extremely pleasant. The immense value of this down time for my kids to connect with one another IRL simply as friends is palpable. With the COVID pandemic still looming over our community, I’m in awe of how resilient each one of them remains.

Here’s a (hopefully) more succinct list of the end of my day:

  • 3:10 – Ensure Artemis is safe to drive, begin a half hour drive to Paso, student co-pilot thrilled calling out ETA from my Google Map.
  • 3:40 – Arrive at Kennedy Fitness for our Girls VB matches vs. Trinity.
  • 4:00 – Cheer for our Girls VB teams (whilst shepherding MS boys)
  • 5:15 – Arrive at Almond Acres for our VB match; only two other schools have Boys teams, so we added this match at AA’s brand new gym located < 5-minutes from where our Girls are competing.
  • 6:00 – play AA much closer than our first match, but still end up in the loss column (20-25, 21-25)…we were blown out in our first match with AA back in April, so it did feel good to play a bit more competitively.
  • 6:30 – Pose for an end of season image with the MS Boys VB team (see below)
  • 7:15 – pull back into SLOCA’s parking lot.
  • 7:40 – final player picked up by his family.

As I lock the FT Room back up before heading home to Teresa, I have to smile noticing a quote I’ve hung above our light switch as kids depart:

Phew! What a jam-packed yet amazing day. Thank you to Matt Philipp for taking the time out of his busy schedule to give us a behind-the-scenes peek into the life of our LMS and UMS students on their home days on campus. If you missed last weeks Day in the Life of our Primary and Intermediate Full Time students, be sure to check it out here!

2 thoughts on “A Day in the Life – LMS/UMS Full Time Program”

  1. Mr. Philipp and Miss Martinez are amazing! Their commitment and vision for the FT program has transformed our SLOCA experience and we are so grateful! We are thrilled to be moving another student up into LMS/UMS FT program next year. Thank you Matt and Jordan!!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *