Friday Faces | Intermediate Teachers - 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 | Intermediate Teachers

It’s time for our Intermediate teachers to get a shout out in this installment of our Friday Faces series. We feature third and fourth grade teachers we know and love. Scroll down to learn more about how they personify SLOCA’s classical education with a twist.

What did you read this year and what did you take away from it?

Mrs. Rachel Hoxie: The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson. What I took away from this non-fiction novel is that many, many of our ancestors were horribly prejudice against African Americans and chose to make their lives miserable before and after the Civil War. I learned about the incredible strength and spirit of the people who took part in “America’s Great Migration” from the south to the north. One of the most important lessons I learned, was that we who live in the present will never truly understand how difficult it was to experience such cruel prejudice and that we cannot allow such prejudice to endure.

Mrs. Vanessa Plakias: Broken Horses, A memoir by Brandi Carlile- Staying focused on your goals, even when there are great challenges, can result in great success. Great success doesn’t always mean happiness and feeling satisfied. Surrounding yourself with people you love and trust is everything. Love is everything.

Mrs. Lisa Wallace: I generally prefer historical fiction, but this summer I broadened my spectrum of titles a bit. Leave Out the Tragic Parts (True story of a grandfather’s love for his grandson who was an addict and homeless. This book gave me painful insight as to the choices kids make and how it affects so many people), The Art of Racing in the Rain (I love dogs, and this was such a fun yet touching read), M is for Mama (This book gave me reminders of what young mamas go through every day and helped me interact in a more understanding manner with young families), Battle for the American Mind (Provides insight into the path of public education over the past 100 years), Remarkably Bright Creatures (A touching story of an older woman and her friendship with a captive Pacific octopus. Though a fun and light read, it also highlights relationships between generations), The Honey Bus (Powerful story of a young girl from a troubled home, her grandfather, and raising bees together).

Ms. Hannah Greenelsh: I read a lot this year. Some books I’ve loved are: Running Out of Time by Margaret Peterson Haddix, Hillbilly Elegy by JD Vance, Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer, Persuasion by Jane Austen, Mary Jane by Jessica Anya Blau, and Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid. Looking back, I’m happy that I read a variety of genres. A common thread through many of these books is the concept of time and how one choice can determine the rest of our lives.

Mrs. Kaitlyn Lewis: The Courage to Teach One quote from the book that has stuck with me came from an early chapter titled The Heart of a Teacher. It states; “as we learn more about who we are, we can learn techniques that reveal rather than conceal the personhood from which good teaching comes.” I was encouraged and challenged by this chapter to reflect on my teaching and really strive to approach lessons not from a ‘performance’ stance but to teach from an authentic love of music.

Ms. Keara McCall: This year I read Mindset by Carol Dweck, and it really helped me with stepping back and assessing how I view success and failure. I’ve also been reading a lot of memoirs, like The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion, When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi, and Just Kids by Patti Smith, which have all helped me further expand my view of the world and the way others perceive it.

Mr. William McCurdy: I recently read a book called Wayfinding Leadership: Groundbreaking Wisdom for Developing Leaders by Dr. Chellie Spiller, Hoturoa Barclay-Kerr, and John Panoho. This book was a quick, fun read that shifted my perspective on leadership and the personal grounding needed to achieve lasting leadership. Find your mana!

What have been some highlights from Tri 1, and what else are you looking forward to teaching or learning with your students this year?

Mrs. Rachel Hoxie: Some Highlights from Tri 1 is learning how interesting the Middle Ages are and teaching students that it is anything but the “Dark Ages.” For example, learning what recipes they used for illnesses–just add a little bit of bishopwort, garlic, wormwood, and hollowleek and you just might cure a headache (do not try at home).

Mrs. Vanessa Plakias: Building trusting relationships with students and parents in Tri 1 has been a wonderful highlight! I’m looking forward to teaching PLANTS in Science. There will be many opportunities for creative lessons and fun science experiments.

Mrs. Lisa Wallace: I love the 4 year history rotation here at SLOCA, and I am constantly referring to our classroom timeline in class, pointing out how the history topic we are currently studying relates to events/people of the past and future. That said, The Middle Ages is my favorite of the four cycles to teach with Feudalism, Robinhood, Marco Polo, and British Royalty to name a few. The story of Joan of Arc is one of my favorites and I particularly enjoy studying about this young lady with my students.

Ms. Hannah Greenelsh: Trimester 1 has already been so full! We’ve studied so much history and literature. I can hardly believe it! Students made some amazing and gruesome “Wanted” posters for Grendel when we read Beowulf. Recently, I’ve loved seeing all the Norse Myth activities students have created. They are so thoughtful and detailed. In Trimester 2, I’m excited to dive into The Adventures of Robin Hood!

Mrs. Kaitlyn Lewis: A big highlight of Trimester 1 has been the ability to sing and play instruments in class as we did ‘Pre-covid’. I am looking forward to much more singing and joyful sounds of music as the year goes on!

Ms. Keara McCall: So far, I’ve enjoyed the doing the literature readings with the students and engaging in the material with them, either through discussion or more creative outlets like legos. My favorite so far has been Arthur of Albion! I’m looking forward to learning more about the Vikings with the students in the upcoming weeks.

Mr. William McCurdy: Watching the students become fall in love with our history and literature readings has been such a joy. There are days that they chant “NO! Read more! Beowulf! Beowulf!” and I can’t wait to harvest more of that passion for learning later in the year.

How long have you been at SLOCA? If you are new, what drew you to our community?

Mrs. Rachel Hoxie: This is my 2nd year at SLOCA. What drew me to SLOCA was the Classical Education and sharing and teaching the life-long love of learning.

Mrs. Vanessa Plakias: Since Summer 2022. SLOCA enriches their students with history, art, music, literature, and hands on learning. SLOCA has great expectations for what students are capable of and the kids seem to flourish in this support. I was blown away by the school, staff and student body when I came to observe last Spring. I was really impressed and felt like it was an excellent place for me to contribute my strengths and love of learning.

Mrs. Lisa Wallace: This is my 13th year at SLOCA. The small class sizes, the classical approach, and the homeschooling hybrid were the main factors that drew me here. After homeschooling my own 4 boys, I felt SLOCA was the perfect fit for me. It is truly a gift to be a part of this amazing school!

Ms. Hannah Greenelsh: This is my first year teaching at SLOCA. I attended SLOCA in fifth and sixth grade and loved it! I always wanted to be a teacher and remembered how great SLOCA is, so I decided to come back and teach. My experience has been amazing and I feel so supported!

Mrs. Kaitlyn Lewis: This is my 10th year at SLOCA

Ms. Keara McCall: This is my first year at SLOCA. Growing up in the area, I had friends that attended and always had positive things to say, so I was excited to get more involved as a teacher.

Mr. William McCurdy: This is my 2nd year at SLOCA! I had family attend SLOCA who loved their experience. After looking into the school’s mission and values, I knew it’d be a place I’d love to work at!

If you attached a a favorite photo to share with readers, please describe it here:

Mrs. Rachel Hoxie: This is a recent photo of my family in Santa Barbara for parent’s weekend at UCSB!

Mrs. Vanessa Plakias: I have hundreds of favorite photos, but I really like this one of my family. It was an amazing trip to Marfa, Texas where we camped in our Sprinter van. We met up with family and visited many very interesting cities and places. Good memories! The world shut down a couple months after this photo.

Mrs. Lisa Wallace: Tony and I celebrated our 45th wedding anniversary this past April. Using my cell phone camera propped next to a tree in our backyard, we snapped a few pictures of us dressed in our hippy attire as we reminisced the era of our dating and early married years.

Ms. Hannah Greenelsh: This is a picture of my family (mom, dad, and sister) on a summer trip to Idaho.

Ms. Keara McCall: My sister and I took a trip to Ireland and Scotland at the beginning of September. It was a great bonding experience and we were both excited to check it off our bucket list. My photo is from the top of the Camera Obscura in Edinburgh at one of the few times it was sunny during the trip.

Mr. William McCurdy: Two things I love, family and football! This is me with my younger (but taller) brothers and my dad. Go Birds!

See, aren’t they the most well-rounded group! Now you understand how we know an love these third and fourth grade teachers. So well-read and involved with their community, they truly personify SLOCA’s classical education with a twist.

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