a mini retreat for Parents + educators

Saturday, February 11, 8:30a–3:30p
SLOCA High School (1111 Higuera)

“The world of reality has its limits; the world of imagination is boundless."


Creating space to imagine through the lens of the good, true, and beautiful can open up new vistas for us as parents and educators. Our fast-paced world finds us with less time than ever, and imagination is often shortchanged or lost. The Ever Imagining Retreat offers a pause and place for us to focus on the imagination together through classical education. Led by three dynamic, leading educators (and parents themselves), this retreat offers you a focused time to connect with other families who desire to raise whole, sturdy, and imaginative children.

Tickets are $75/person (lunch included).
Buy 2, get 3rd free using coupon code IMAGINE



Doors open + refreshments served


Introduction: Our speakers and their stories


Poetic knowledge panel: Little Bear

A Poetic Knowledge Panel is a small group of colleagues, friends, or presenters who come together to contemplate and discuss a work of art, literature, or a poem. Using an integration of senses and intellect, mixed with spontaneity and inspiration, panelists explore what the piece awakens in their own hearts and a journey toward the truth of the work is undertaken. The audience listens, takes in the conversation and in so doing, finds an awakening in their own hearts. This classical method of learning together will be a vibrant beginning to our retreat.




Session 1*


Lunch (included in ticket price)


Session 2*


Session 3*


Closing reflections + raffle drawing

*All attendees will rotate through the following sessions during Sessions 1, 2, and 3*


The Birth of the Modern Imagination: A Very Brief History—How Imagination Evolved in the Neoclassical and Romantic Eras

by John Matteson

Was there a time in the past when the idea of the imagination was different than the way we see it today?  What has the impact of imagination been on the formation of the modern human?  Professor Matteson will take us back to the beginning — the advent of the modern imagination.  Contrasting ways the imagination can lead to hope, beauty and goodness, with the more nefarious role imagination has played throughout history, he will reinforce the value of its study while highlighting how the act of imagining can lead our students, and all of us down virtuous paths. 

Restoring the Imagination: Putting Stories in their Proper Place

by Heidi White

A classical education cultivates wisdom and virtue through nourishing ourselves with goodness, truth, and beauty. But how do we translate this lofty goal into tangible action in the midst of a bereft cultural landscape? In this talk, Heidi White proposes that the modern world suffers from a traumatic loss of meaning-making stories and that it is our opportunity as classical educators and parents to restore imaginative and enduring stories for ourselves and our students.


On Imagination: A Vision for Flourishing in Classical Education

by Angel Adams Parham

What comes to mind when you think of the imagination? Some assume that the imagination and the imaginary are the same—something made up, not real. But there is a difference. The imagination is active in shaping the way we think of ourselves and our vision of what the world is and can be. Because of its promise and power, classical education seeks to cultivate the imagination in ways that promote the flourishing of the individual and the community. We will consider resources and practices that will inspire and shape your students’ imagination in beautiful and fruitful ways.


John Matteson

Author + Pulitzer Prize Winner

Author, Pulitzer Prize winner, and Distinguished Professor of English at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in the City University of New York, John Matteson, is a long-time friend of SLOCA having visited our classrooms multiple times over the years. John has earned a JD, AB in History, and PhD in English and Comparative Literature from Princeton, Harvard, and Columbia. While he comes to us with all of these laurels, you will find that John puts his audience at ease, telling stories full of human life, truth, and good humor.  Like so many classical educators, John got into education because he loves to read good books and talk about them with interested (and interesting) people. His books pull you in and whisk you away to other times and places—the same is true of his most recent work, A Worse Place Than Hell: How the Civil War Battle of Fredericksburg Changed a Nation. A renaissance man, when John isn’t reading, writing, or spending time with close friends, he loves to play the guitar and can often be found in the kitchen baking (look out for cherry season, when John brings the harvest in from a backyard tree and makes his famous homemade cherry pie!). He and his wife love to travel to France and have a daughter, Rebecca, who is also a writer.

Angel Adams Parham

Professor of Sociology + Author

Sociology professor at the University of Virginia, Angel Parham is already known to many of you who attended our On Being Human Retreat in 2021. Having earned her BA from Yale and PhD in Sociology from University of Wisconsin-Madison, Angel is a dedicated educator, writer and speaker. She brings with her a host of experience and insight for classical teachers whether at home or in the classroom. Angel loves to invite young people to dwell in the realm of ideas—she encourages them to cultivate a vision for the flourishing of their own lives, as well as of the community they are in. Her recent book, The Black Intellectual Tradition: Reading Freedom in Classical Literature, was cowritten with Anika Prather (another friend of SLOCA!) and introduces the reader to the influence classical literature had on such intellectuals as Anna Julia Cooper, W.E.B. Du Bois, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and others. A lover of good books, Angel taught our community about the practice of keeping a commonplace book, which we will learn more about again this year. She is also an active and involved mother who homeschooled her own girls. When possible, Angel finds herself going to museums to revel in beauty. She also enjoys great food, community, and good conversation.

Heidi White

Educator + Podcaster

Contributing author, speaker, consultant and instructor at the Circe Institute, Heidi White is also a literary podcaster well known in the world of classical education. Holding a BA in Literature and MA in Counseling Psychology, Heidi also teaches Humanities at St. Hild School in Colorado Springs. As if all that doesn’t keep her busy enough, Heidi serves on the Board of Directors of The Anselm Society as well the Academic Advisory Board for the Classical Learning Test. Living the life of a classical educator both at home and on the job, Heidi offers insight for classical teachers and parents into how a solid classical education gives us more to be human with.  Heidi writes fiction, poetry, and essays, and speaks about literature, education, and the Christian imagination (which is why we knew she would be a good fit for this retreat!). Keep your eye out for her forthcoming book, The Divided Soul: Reuniting Duty and Desire in Literature and Life. Living a rich life full of reading, cooking, gardening, traveling, and conversing with interesting people, Heidi especially loves to spend time with her family. When life presents the opportunity she loves to enjoy good food, wine, and the camaraderie that comes with good conversation.


SLO Classical Academy High School (SLOCAHS)

1111 Higuera St.
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

Note on Parking: There are a number of parking options near SLOCA High School, including metered, unmetered, and parking garages.