Friday Faces | High School | part 1 - 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 | High School | part 1

Happy Friday! To learn more about who makes SLOCA amazing, scroll down and read this week’s Friday Faces series which continues with some of our High School teachers. They’re such a part of what classical education with a twist means and we’re excited to show you some insights into what they read this summer and how long SLOCA’s been lucky to know them.

What books inspired you this summer?

Mr. McCullough: My summer staff read was Parker Palmer’s “The Courage to Teach,” and I cannot say enough good things about it. It is one of the two or three best books on teaching I have ever read. Parker’s key idea is: “Good teaching cannot be reduced to technique; good teaching comes from the identity and integrity of the teacher” (10). Unpacking this thesis takes many pages. Rather than present a series of shortcuts and teaching hacks, Parker shows how good teaching happens when the inwardness of the teacher “meets” the inwardness of the student in pursuit of “the grace of great things” that each academic discipline is organized around. “All real living is meeting,” he quotes the Hasidic philosopher Martin Buber. We teach with real authority when we are in touch with our own inwardness and are “authors” of our own lives. It’s an endlessly profound and challenging idea.

Dr. Bleisch: The Sword in the Stone by T.H. White. I loved how playful Merlin was as Wart’s teacher, and how resilient Wart was as a student. *The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkein: I was disappointed in Bilbo, who revels in his cozy retirement, and doesn’t see that Frodo has been saddled with all the weighty responsibility and danger of disposing of the Ring. Bilbo sees this as another adventure for his book, not as a grim and terrible necessity. Still, Frodo doesn’t resent Bilbo’s mentality; he loves him for who he is. So maybe I should forgive Bilbo for being such a boomer. *Robin Hood, the version by Paul Creswick, with illustrations by Wyeth. I want to read Howard Pyle’s classic version, and compare them.

Mrs. Bischoff: “Breaking Bread with the Dead” by Alan Jacobs was my staff read. I loved it! It makes a great case for why we should read OLD (like really old) books and try to understand how people from a different time and place thought about the world. It’s all about that “great conversation” that has been going on throughout the ages through art and literature – “breaking bread” in the sense of getting to know someone from the past through their work. I took away from it so many things, but one example is the idea of “double reading,” where you can recognize as wrong an author’s ideas and attitudes that perhaps are not virtuous or correct according to how we think today, but also be open to hidden gems and ideas that spark your own imagination and sense of connection, and not dismiss or cancel an old author or piece of literature simply because they thought differently than we do today. One of my favorite quotes: “Breaking bread with the dead is not a scholarly task to be completed but a permanent banquet, to which all who hunger are invited.”

Mr. Rein: Travelling Mercies by Anne Lamott…I appreciated how she made clear that it is okay to be imperfect and that in our imperfections we can help others when we are open about them.

Mrs. Giacoletti: The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains–I enjoyed learning more about the concept of neuroplasticity, as well as the author’s discussion of the internet and how it is situated within the larger scope of intellectual history.

Some even shared their favorite photo from summer. Keep scrolling!

What are you looking forward to teaching or learning with your students this year?

Mr. Mc Cullough: Studying medieval literature, we explore about the history and origins of the English language. In doing so, we learn what makes English both so powerful and so subtle at the same time. English is special because it has a backbone of “strong” Anglo-Saxon vocabulary, fleshed out with nuanced and endlessly connotative words derived from Old French that entered the language after the Norman conquest. Students who study medieval literature walk away with a deep appreciation for the diverse origins and the creative possibilities of their native language.

Dr. Bleisch: Looking forward to exploring Roman engineering and architecture, using Legos.

Mrs. Bischoff: I am not a teacher, but I have a high school son and I am looking forward to reading his Honors English books alongside him this year.

Dr. Rein: I look forward to teaching Geometry to the 9th graders for the first time.

Mrs. Giacoletti: As one of the heads of Valhalla house, I am very excited to talk about the Viking Age with my students. 🙂

Remind our readers how long you’ve been a part of SLOCA.

Mr. McCullough: 7 years, since 2015.

Dr. Bleisch: This will be my fifth year at SLOCA. And I continue to learn!

Mrs. Bischoff: This is my 17th year as a parent – we have completed 4 history cycles and are starting our 5th!!! I’ve been working at SLOCA for 11 years in various roles, and have been working at the high school for a little over 4 years.

Dr. Rein: 16 years? Lots of years…about as many as SLOCA has been around.

Mrs. Giacoletti: This is my second year at SLOCA High School.

Stay tuned for next week we’ll present part 2 of High School teachers and staff!

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