We boast a gifted, passionate teacher group at SLO Classical Academy!  Our teachers are sought after for their natural teaching abilities, their demonstration of a passion for lifelong learning, their love of and commitment to students, the ability to work on a team and for their creative, think-out-of-the-box attitudes!

 

Preschool

 

Merideth Eades (Early Childhood Director/Teacher)

Merideth graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo receiving a BS in Human Development with an emphasis on Child Development. After college, she worked for two years directing a preschool in San Luis Obispo. The desire to teach prompted her subsequently obtain her teaching credential through National University. She was hired by San Luis Coastal Unified in 1995 where she taught First Grade for 13 years. In addition to her credential, Merideth also holds a certificate in Reading Recovery and worked as a Reading Recovery Specialist for 9 of the 13 years in the San Luis Coastal School District.  Merideth started as a Primary teacher at San Luis Classical Academy in 2008. She  combines teaching for the San Luis Classical Academy with homeschooling her two children, Hayden Joy and Luke.

 

 

Junior Kindergarten

 

Denise Indvik
Denise Indvik grew up in Orange County and attended the University of Redlands, where she earned her elementary school teaching credential.  After teaching for several years in Southern California, she moved with her husband Martin to San Luis Obispo--the best decision they ever made!  

 

When the first of her three sons were born, Denise left the public school classroom to concentrate on being a mom. She kept her skills sharp, however, by teaching  in the county’s Parent Participation program, running a tutoring business out of her home, and eventually committing to 8 years of  full-time homeschooling.  Denise is thrilled to be back in the classroom at SLOCA, where her middle son is a happy 7th grader, and her 5 year old is eagerly awaiting the start of kindergarten next year.  


 

Kindergarten

 

Sarah Root

Sarah had the privilege of growing up on the Central Coast and has spent the last 12 years working with children in a variety of settings.  The last 6 of those years have been in the field of education.  She spent 2 years in the psychology field working with emotionally disturbed children and adolescents both in the home and classroom.   Sarah attended Chapman University and earned her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology in 2004 followed by a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential in 2005.  She continued her education and received a Master of Arts in Teaching with an elementary education emphasis in 2006.  

 

Sarah taught fourth grade math on Track A during the 2010-11 school year, but took time off this past year to focus on her family.  She is so excited about the opportunity to be back at SLOCA and hopes to create a warm and inviting learning community among her students.  She especially loves the authentic hands-on learning that happens at SLOCA and is looking forward to an exciting and adventurous year with her primary students and their families.

 

When Sarah is not teaching she can be found running, sewing, doing crafts, reading, and enjoying time with her husband John and their two boys, Zeke age 4, a SLOCA Junior Kindergartener, and Max age 1, a future SLOCA student.

 

Mary Knudson (Music)

Mary earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from Sonoma State University.  After graduation Mary found herself working with children and young adults in the aquatics world.  Her love of coaching led Mary to earn her teaching credential from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.

As a mom of two young boys, Mary  fell in love with what she saw at SLOCA as both a parent and credentialed teacher and knew she wanted to be a part of a school that approaches academics in such a classical, rich and interdisciplinary way.

 

She enjoys bringing learning to life through play, literature, art, science, and music.  Mary encourages all of her students to discover, wonder, and explore through hands-on-experiences.  She enjoys the hybrid model offered at SLOCA because it provides a nurturing community between teacher, parent, child and staff.  She is committed to inspiring each student to reach his or her full potential. In her free time she enjoys spending time with her family, vegan cuisine, photography, and the sunshine.

 

 

Primary (1/2)

 

Melinda Fragasso (Primary and Art)

Melinda earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and her minor in Art at the University of California at Irvine.  She also took classes at the Southern California Institute of the Arts in Laguna Beach. She had the opportunity to intern at The Farm School (in conjunction with UC Irvine) as an undergraduate where she worked with the students and developed art therapy lessons.  Melinda then went on to graduate from Westmont College with her multiple-subject teaching credential and her single-subject credential in art.  She started her teaching career over 20 years ago at a private school in Pacific Palisades, Ca.  There she taught at the elementary level and had the opportunity to develop an art curriculum and teach art to kindergarten – eighth grade.  She also started and coordinated an after school kids program.  Melinda went on to teach art at private schools in Washington and Utah.  She recently moved back to San Luis Obispo.  She enjoys spending time with her two children, family and lifelong friends.

 

Melinda has had the opportunity to experience education in local private, public and home schools this past year.  After growing up in SLO, she is excited to see the options parents have in educating their children now.  She is excited to be part of SLOCA and join this team of dedicated and experienced teachers.  She enjoys teaching all ages of students and loves the enthusiasm and unique perspectives they bring to the classroom.  An avid reader all her life, Melinda is excited about teaching a Classical curriculum that brings history to life.  She loves the flexibility and creativity available to meet different student needs.

 

Jennifer Perneel

Jennifer Perneel graduated from Cal Poly, SLO with a Bachelor of Science degree in Child Development. She then went on to earn her Multiple Subject teaching credential from Chapmen University. Before joining the SLOCA staff, Jennifer taught 1st grade in a local school district. During her time there, Jennifer was a mentor teacher as well as a lead teacher and helped to organize many family functions and fundraisers. She also implemented a reading intervention program for struggling students and served on many committees including the Early Childhood Action team and Curriculum and Instruction committee. Jennifer attended many Language Arts conferences, Math Institutes and enrichment courses throughout her years in the public schools.

 

Jennifer believes that given the opportunity, with the appropriate guidance, every child can and will meet his or her potential. She strives to meet each child’s unique needs and discover the gifts that each child brings to the classroom. Jennifer enjoys working with students and their families and helping to create a positive environment both at home and in the classroom. She and her husband Peter, also a local teacher, have made their home in North County with their two children, Brooklynn Rose and Dylan, both students at SLOCA!

 

 

Intermediate (3/4)

 

Lisa Ann Dillon

Lisa has been teaching at the elementary school level for 13 years and has worked with young children for nearly 20 years.  She earned a B.F.A from Webster University in St. Louis, Missouri and received her Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from Pacific Oaks College where her studies focused on a child-centered approach to education.  

Lisa Ann has a passion for bringing the learning experience to life through the use of art, drama, music and poetry and encourages all of her students to work at their highest level.  She has a particular interest in teaching mathematics in a dynamic manner.  Her focus on hands-on exploration and critical thinking skills result in motivated mathematicians who enjoy being challenged as much as they appreciate being supported and encouraged.  

Additionally, Lisa Ann spent more than four years traveling throughout the country educating teachers as an expert presenter for Staff Development for Education.  She now puts that experience into curriculum development here at SLOCA and her passion and knowledge help fuel our classical educational program and enrich the lives of all of our students.  Lisa Ann is also an enthusiastic SLOCA parent and lives in Atascadero with her husband and two delightful children. 

 

Caroline Vaccaro (Art)

Caroline Vaccaro graduated from Westmont College in Santa Barbara. She earned a Bachlolors degree in Economics and Business and also a Bachelors degree in Fine Art. After graduation she entered the business world of Corporate Sales while pursing a secondary teaching credential from Concordia University in Irvine. 

 

In 2002 she returned home to San Luis Obispo. In 2006 she combined her passion for teaching art and business and opened Monart San Luis Obispo. She trained with Mona Brooks the author of Drawing with Children and Drawing for Older Children and Teens.  Caroline’s expertise includes instructing teachers in reaching children with learning problems or special needs, and how to incorporate drawing in the teaching of other subjects, such as mathematics, science, history and literature. She has worked in both public and private schools teaching art throughout San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara County. She has experience in teaching Art History, Watercolor, Ceramics, Printmaking, Acrylic Painting, Drawing, Claymation and Animation. She is the Fine Arts leader for Canyon County 4H, and is also a board member for the San Luis Obispo Children’s Museum. Her true passion is developing curriculum that not only engages the student in the arts but also creates a desire for learning.

 

Caroline started teaching enrichment at SLOCA in 2008.  Her passion for SLOCA and its curriculum inspired her to become a SLOCA parent. In her spare time she loves to paint, read, travel, and spend time with her two boys, her husband, and friends. 


Lisa Wallace (Science)
Lisa studied Spanish at CSU Long Beach and earned a California Multi-Subject Teaching Credential from University of LaVerne.  She has taught Spanish to area students for over 13 years and has been a regular substitute teacher for Atascadero and Templeton schools as well as local private schools. Lisa is the founder and director of a Mommy and Me parent-participation preschool in Atascadero where she has been teaching pre-K for four years. Lisa has been a CASA worker in SLO county and is currently an  AWANA leader and a keyboard player for her church. She has a great love for children and a passion to inspire learning.

Lisa and her husband of 34 years homeschooled their four sons for more than 20 years, enjoying the benefits of time spent together dreaming, creating, playing, learning, reading, traveling, and exploring.  Over the years, she has also welcomed close to 20 foster children into the arms of their home, family, and life.  Nurturing and loving such a multitude of children made for a challenging, memorable, and very rewarding period of Lisa's life. With her extensive background in homeschooling while raising a large family, Lisa has much to offer the families here at San Luis Obispo Classical Academy.

 

 

Lower Middle School (5/6)

 

Jennifer Wright

Jennifer is thrilled to be teaching at SLOCA for her fourth year and loves being a part of the Lower Middle School team.  As she continues to grow in her knowledge, understanding and integration of a classical education into her instructional style, Jennifer's strength as a creative, project-based instructor allows for learning to come alive, and she adores the students’ enthusiasm and eagerness to learn. Jennifer earned her degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1990. She completed her Multiple Subject Teaching Credential at Cal Poly and taught in the Orcutt Union School District for seven years.  While teaching in Orcutt, she  presented at numerous conferences on technology integration and has received awards for her innovative use of computers in the classroom.

 

Prior to becoming a teacher, Jennifer worked as a marine science technician for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and taught marine science and awareness onboard a research vessel to Rhode Island school children. When Jennifer is not teaching, she stays busy with her own children's activities as well as training for triathlons, running races, and her most recent accomplishment: swimming from Alcatraz to San Francisco!

 

Heidi Frago (Science)

Heidi Frago has been teaching at SLOCA for six years.  She is passionate about teaching math and science, and her goal is to pass her enthusiasm for learning to her students –a goal she steadily meets!  Heidi comes from a strong background in math and science.  Throughout her high school and college years, she tutored math and science to students of all ages.  She graduated from Cal Poly SLO with a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Business and received her CLAD Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from Chapman University.  

 

While in school at Chapman, Heidi was a substitute teacher for the Lucia Mar School District.  Upon receiving her credential, she taught sixth grade math through geometry at a local school.   A wife and parent of two little boys, she has been an integral part of growing with the school since the 2006/2007 school year, and we've loved every minute of it!

 

Sarah McCurdy Weinschenk (Latin)

Sarah earned her B.A. in Latin from Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. During her junior year, she had the opportunity to study Roman history, archeology, Latin, and Greek at the Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies in Rome.  After graduating from Dickinson summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, Sarah taught Latin for a year at Bishop McCort High School in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.  From there she moved on to earn an M.A. in Latin at Fordham University in the Bronx, New York. Sarah taught Latin and Integrated Liberal Studies at Riverdale Country School in the Bronx for three years.  During this time she won a New York City Classical Club scholarship to study for the summer at the American Academy in Rome.  Here she met her husband, Tom Weinschenk, also a Latin teacher. 

 

After moving to California, Sarah taught for a year at the Santa Catalina School for Girls in Monterey before moving to Morro Bay where she first started working with the homeschool community on the Central Coast, as well as teaching at Morro Bay High School.  Sarah has taught Latin to homeschoolers for approximately seventeen years. Sarah currently lives in San Luis Obispo with her husband Tom, son Ethan, and cat Pittsburgh.

 

Catherine Panofsky- Pardeilhan (Art)

Catherine Panofsky-Pardeilhan joined SLOCA as the Lower Middle School Art teacher for track A & B.  She was self-employed for 18 years as a commercial artist, teacher and consultant. Her early career encompassed large murals, sign painting, botanical illustration & decorative painting, calligraphy, goldleafing, faux marble & wood. 

 

After taking a break to start a family in 2001, her work shifted to paint color consultation and long-term studio projects in painting, metal work and paper arts. Concurrent to her painting career, she also worked in historical costume design, custom bridal wear, and sewing arts.

 

 

Upper Middle School (7/8)

Jenna Burns (History/Literature/Writing)

Jenna  graduated from Cal Poly with a B.A. degree in English. She went on to receive her teaching credential at Cal State Monterey Bay. Jenna spent two years teaching Language Arts at Chalone Peaks Middle School in King City.  She was thrilled to join the SLOCA team in Fall 2009 as the Upper Middle School Language Arts and History teacher. Her focus is providing engaging and rigorous activities that inspire students to go beyond their comfort zone and reach toward their fullest potential. 

 

By intentionally integrating art, drama, debate, writing, critical thinking, and teamwork into her classes, she reaches students of all learning styles and makes History and Language Arts fun! In a relaxed and friendly atmosphere, students can expect to thrive and benefit from Jenna's commitment to making every class a meaningful experience. She looks forward to learning, connecting, and growing alongside you!

 

Heidi Frago (PreAlgebra/Science) 

Heidi Frago has been at  teaching at San Luis Obispo Classical Academy for six years.  She is passionate about teaching math and science and her goal is to pass her enthusiasm for learning to her students - a goal she at which she is very successful!  Heidi comes from a strong background in math and science.  Throughout her high school and college years she tutored math and science to students of all ages.  She graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Business and Chapman University with a CLAD Multiple Subject Teaching Credential.  

 

While in school at Chapman, Heidi was a substitute teacher for the Lucia Mar School District.  Upon receiving  her credential, I taught at Mesa Middle School as a Class Size Reduction teacher for sixth grade math through geometry.   A wife and parent of two little boys, she has been an integral part of growing with the school since the 2006/2007 school year and we've loved every minute of it!

 

AnnE Lorenzen (Logic)
AnnE Lorenzen first introduced her Critical Thinking Curriculum in summer 2000 at Cuesta Colleges College For Kids program.  A popular and enthusiastic presenter, she returns each year to invite children to consider how and why we think and communicate the way(s) we do, and how to argue or negotiate successfully.  For the past 10 years AnnE has parlayed her education, passions, and life experiences into a unique status as a frequent talk radio guest and guest host on KVEC 920AM. She believes strongly in the power of this medium, and offers children and young people in the community a forum from which to express their concerns, challenges, etc. by including them in live radio conversations each year.


AnnE believes in the extraordinary benefits of a classical education and encourages all children to study classical Latin and Philosophy as early as possible.  Her own curricula introduce both disciplines as a matter of course, and the students' enthusiasm for the materials reinforces her commitment to participate in as many venues as possible where such interest is welcomed and supported.  SLOCA is an extraordinary example of such a venue. With these studies informing their conversations and experiences as young people, students will then be prepared to think critically, communicate clearly and fairly, and argue or negotiate successfully, increasing the probability of an inspiring and memorable high school experience.

 

Sarah McCurdy Weinschenk (Latin)

Sarah earned her B.A. in Latin from Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. During her junior year, she had the opportunity to study Roman history, archeology, Latin, and Greek at the Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies in Rome.  After graduating from Dickinson summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, Sarah taught Latin for a year at Bishop McCort High School in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.  From there she moved on to earn an M.A. in Latin at Fordham University in the Bronx, New York. Sarah taught Latin and Integrated Liberal Studies at Riverdale Country School in the Bronx for three years.  During this time she won a New York City Classical Club scholarship to study for the summer at the American Academy in Rome.  Here she met her husband, Tom Weinschenk, also a Latin teacher. 

 

After moving to California, Sarah taught for a year at the Santa Catalina School for Girls in Monterey before moving to Morro Bay where she first started working with the homeschool community on the Central Coast, as well as teaching at Morro Bay High School.  Sarah has taught Latin to homeschoolers for approximately seventeen years. Sarah currently lives in San Luis Obispo with her husband Tom, son Ethan, and cat Pittsburgh. 

 

Catherine Panofsky- Pardeilhan (Art)

Catherine Panofsky-Pardeilhan joined SLOCA as the Lower Middle School Art teacher for track A & B.  She was self-employed for 18 years as a commercial artist, teacher and consultant. Her early career encompassed large murals, sign painting, botanical illustration & decorative painting, calligraphy, goldleafing, faux marble & wood. 

 

After taking a break to start a family in 2001, her work shifted to paint color consultation and long-term studio projects in painting, metal work and paper arts. Concurrent to her painting career, she also worked in historical costume design, custom bridal wear, and sewing arts.

 

 

High School

Sonja Bair (Biology and Anatomy/Physiology)

Sonja Bair is, first and foremost, a science enthusiast who loves to share her passion with kids.  From investigating the chemicals present in fireflies after watching them in her backyard (luciferin, by the way) to identifying the clouds in her perpetually overcast former home state (Michigan), Sonja is fascinated by the world around her.  She earned her B.S. in Biological Science at Hope College in Holland, Michigan and then a Master’s degree in Environmental Science as well as a Master’s degree in Industrial Hygiene from the University of Michigan.  After graduate school, Sonja was employed as an Environmental Health and Safety Officer for the state of Michigan.  In this career she was able to enter into many fascinating industries to see and participate in science in “the real world."  

 

While the job was interesting, Sonja came to the realization that teaching was her real passion.  She returned to get her teaching certification and then taught both at the college and high school level for the last five years.  Sonja and her husband Nathan have two beautiful children, Miriam, 3 years old, and Naomi, almost 1 year old.

 

Melinda Fragasso (Studio Art)

Melinda earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and her minor in Art at the University of California at Irvine.  She also took classes at the Southern California Institute of the Arts in Laguna Beach. She had the opportunity to intern at The Farm School (in conjunction with UC Irvine) as an undergraduate where she worked with the students and developed art therapy lessons.  Melinda then went on to graduate from Westmont College with her multiple-subject teaching credential and her single-subject credential in art.  She started her teaching career over 20 years ago at a private school in Pacific Palisades, Ca.  There she taught at the elementary level and had the opportunity to develop an art curriculum and teach art to kindergarten – eighth grade.  She also started and coordinated an after school kids program.  Melinda went on to teach art at private schools in Washington and Utah.  She recently moved back to San Luis Obispo.  She enjoys spending time with her two children, family and lifelong friends.

 

Melinda has had the opportunity to experience education in local private, public and home schools this past year.  After growing up in SLO, she is excited to see the options parents have in educating their children now.  She is excited to be part of SLOCA and join this team of dedicated and experienced teachers.  She enjoys teaching all ages of students and loves the enthusiasm and unique perspectives they bring to the classroom.  An avid reader all her life, Melinda is excited about teaching a Classical curriculum that brings history to life.  She loves the flexibility and creativity available to meet different student needs.

 

Suzanne MacArthur (Trigonometry) 

Suzanne earned her Bachelor of Science in Applied Mathematics at Cal Poly SLO, where she also earned her Secondary Teaching Credential.  She has taught math course ranging from Algebra through AP Calculus.  As well as teaching math, Suzanne has coached swimming and headed academic decathlons. She has also been a student-teaching supervisor and department chair.  She is currently a part-time mathematics instructor at Cuesta College.  

 

Suzanne loves the beauty and magic that mathematics brings to life as it weaves through the fabric of our lives.  In her words, “I do what I love, and I love what I do!”


Steve Rein (Geometry/Mathematical Thinking)
Steve has a Bachelors degree in Economics from UCLA, and Masters degree in Statistics as well as a Ph.D. in Statistics from UC Berkeley.  He has been a faculty member in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia and since 1998, he has been on faculty in the Department of Statistics at Cal Poly SLO as an associate professor. 

 

As the parent of three SLO Classical Academy students and one SLO Classical Academy High School graduate, and as a believer in the learn-by-doing approach, he is student-focused and project-oriented in his mathematics instruction.  His goal is to develop the quantitative reasoning skills of students by providing opportunities for them to discover, for themselves, the beauty of abstract mathematical thought applied to real-life problems.

 

Sarah Shotwell (Modern History and Literature)

With a passion for literature, language and history, Sarah is thrilled to be teaching at SLOCA.  She holds a B.A. in History from Cal Poly and an M.F.A. in English/Creative Writing from University of Washington and has a varied teaching background, with experience instructing and mentoring students at both the high school and college levels.  Having traveled and lived abroad, Sarah enjoys incorporating an international perspective while teaching the humanities and draws upon art, poetry, fiction and theater for inspiration.  In addition to teaching, Sarah plays keyboards and glockenspiel in a local band, and is working on a novel manuscript.  She describes her teaching style as fun, energetic, inquisitive and challenging and looks forward to getting to know her students and their families in the coming year.

 

Lisa Wallace (Spanish I)

Lisa studied Spanish at CSU Long Beach and earned a California Multi-Subject Teaching Credential from University of LaVerne.  She has taught Spanish to area students for over 13 years and has been a regular substitute teacher for Atascadero and Templeton schools as well as local private schools. Lisa is the founder and director of a Mommy and Me parent-participation preschool in Atascadero where she has been teaching pre-K for four years. Lisa has been a CASA worker in SLO county and is currently an  AWANA leader and a keyboard player for her church. She has a great love for children and a passion to inspire learning.

Lisa and her husband of 34 years homeschooled their four sons for more than 20 years, enjoying the benefits of time spent together dreaming, creating, playing, learning, reading, traveling, and exploring.  Over the years, she has also welcomed close to 20 foster children into the arms of their home, family, and life.  Nurturing and loving such a multitude of children made for a challenging, memorable, and very rewarding period of Lisa's life. With her extensive background in homeschooling while raising a large family, Lisa has much to offer the families here at San Luis Obispo Classical Academy.

 

Sarah McCurdy Weinschenk (Latin IV, V, VI)

Sarah earned her B.A. in Latin from Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. During her junior year, she had the opportunity to study Roman history, archeology, Latin, and Greek at the Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies in Rome.  After graduating from Dickinson summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, Sarah taught Latin for a year at Bishop McCort High School in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.  From there she moved on to earn an M.A. in Latin at Fordham University in the Bronx, New York. Sarah taught Latin and Integrated Liberal Studies at Riverdale Country School in the Bronx for three years.  During this time she won a New York City Classical Club scholarship to study for the summer at the American Academy in Rome.  Here she met her husband, Tom Weinschenk, also a Latin teacher. 

 

After moving to California, Sarah taught for a year at the Santa Catalina School for Girls in Monterey before moving to Morro Bay where she first started working with the homeschool community on the Central Coast, as well as teaching at Morro Bay High School.  Sarah has taught Latin to homeschoolers for approximately seventeen years. Sarah currently lives in San Luis Obispo with her husband Tom, son Ethan, and cat Pittsburgh. 

 

 




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