SLO Classical Academy emerged from a dream of offering a distinctive educational alternative that both brings students and parents together and satisfies the longing for a quality education. Following a dream, Lisa Lewis and Susie Theule opened the doors to the Classical Academy in the fall of 2005. A seasoned educator, Lisa dreamed of offering an educational option that reflected her beliefs about what a solid, engaging education offers. A perennial student and a parent of three (now four!), Susie dreamed of an education for her children that encouraged a passion for learning, that was meaningful and rich, and prepared her children for life. Together, they opened the school with 27 children grades Kindergarten - 6th grade in four homes in 2005 and has grown to over 240 students grades Kindergarten-High School, serving families from all over the Central Coast.
We began the school with our signature Hybrid Program. In this program, the school plans a full week of rich, quality instruction. Students attend class with qualified, dynamic teachers two days a week, and follow the plans laid out by the school at home the other three days a week. Although the school provides a full plan, there is room to individualize for families at home given their family dynamics and student learning styles. We have two tracks in our hybrid program – students that attend class Mondays and Wednesdays, and those that attend Tuesdays and Thursdays. We have remained committed to this approach to education, believing and witnessing time and time again that parents are essential in the educational life of students, and that the educational life always occurs beyond the classroom. Our families frequently describe this program as "life changing."
In 2009, we introduced our Enriched Hybrid Program in Middle School (now grades 5-8) in order to accommodate families who needed or desired more educational care and input during the week. These students attend their core classes two days a week, and then attend both labs and enrichment courses the other two days a week. They receive teacher contact time during their labs as they work on their math, writing and other assignments, and then are exposed to wonderful classes that expand their experience in other forms of writing, speaking, art and life skills. The involvement of parents, while reduced in time somewhat, remains essential in this program.
In 2009 we began our High School levels at the request of students and parents. This program is set up University-style, where students attend school three days weekly (M/W/F) much like a college setting. Although we encourage students taking a full load, students are afforded the option of picking and choosing their classes. Parent involvement is important, but they are no longer considered "home educators" as student independence is required.
Our high school program continues in the classical model of our K-8 program with an emphasis on students learning to thoughtfully and effectively express themselves through writing, discussion and oral presentations. Literature is the base for our history and English curriculum because we believe that as students read the writings of great minds of the past, they will better understand who we are today. History influences our other classes as well, as teachers bring in the experiences of philosophers, scientists, artists, and mathematicians among others to discuss their impact on their subjects and across the culture. In addition to a rich education, SLOCA is a place for high school students to gather. Students are able to pick and choose which classes they would like to take. Our students have a reputation for the love of learning and are willing to work hard. They treat each other with respect. Families are important in the student’s education, but their role is redefined as students become more independent.
SLO Classical Academy has also been defined by the quality staff and parents that have come together to make this school what it is. Staff, Teacher, Parent and Student input is not only valued, but considered essential in the development of our excellent program. Parents are involved at every level of planning and implementation, and many of our staff have children in the program. We are committed to being a learning community – one that is involved in the continual process of evaluation, growth, and excellence.
The dedication of this community of people has laid the foundation of a school that is stable, thriving and dynamic. It is from this foundation that we will serve the Central Coast Community for years to come.