Fall Retreat 2023 Recap
“The name says it all! The Arête Retreat exists to encourage leaders to pursue excellence in their work to the glory of God. I left the retreat feeling rejuvenated, empowered to lead my school better, and inspired to work alongside so many other competent and passionate leaders to advance Classical Christian Education (CCE) in our nation. I highly recommend that every principal and head of school working in classical Christian circles take advantage of this retreat in the future!”
After two days together, one attendee after another enthusiastically shared how this year’s retreat surpassed all prior years with its thought-provoking, heartfelt devotionals, inspirational and applicable sessions on academic leadership, and casual and fun evening events that fostered relationships. Undoubtedly, SCL board chairman Neil Anderson’s morning devotionals are still resonating with each of us as he challenged us to consider, “This is your life! Are you who you want to be?” and “Where is Jesus leading me that I don’t want to go?” Neil reminded us that nothing in life matters as much as being deeply satisfied with, and utterly dependent upon, Jesus.
Each year classical Christian leaders from across the country eagerly anticipate SCL’s Fall Arête Retreat, and this year did not disappoint.
Growing as Academic Leaders
With the focus this year being on academic leadership, Upper School Head Andrew Elizalde and Head of School Leslie Moeller presented on the ingredients of a healthy faculty culture. Elizalde and Moeller artfully presented critical principles alongside practical tips for faculty development. As a first key principle, we must recognize that teachers “are the text!” They incarnate the ideals they teach. As leaders, are we encouraging our teachers to rightly order their affections and to be personally engaged in the liberal arts tradition?
The quality of professional development for our teachers depends on the following:
- The degree to which school leaders invest in training
- Our intentionality in long-range planning that:
- instructs in the liberal arts tradition;
- individually mentors teachers;
- creates space for teachers to plan, collaborate, and pray together;
- provides regular feedback; and
- creates a culture as readers of the Great Books
One attendee exclaimed, “The encouragement received at the workshopping on Friday was life-giving!” Another leader shared, “…processing an issue I am dealing with in the workshops helped provide clarity on the issue in a very helpful way.”
Central to the Arête Retreat tradition is the unique opportunity for learning and growing presented through workgroup sessions. Using the Critical Friend Conversation Protocol, workgroup sessions have become a favorite highlight. Participants each share a relevant challenge from their school and receive feedback and advice from fellow attendees on how to proceed. The vulnerability and shared trust created in a safe place through hours of problem-solving together leaves leaders better equipped to tackle their challenge and more closely bonded with fellow classical educators.
New Track: College Advisors
New this year were two specialized tracks: college advising and a school start-up bootcamp. SCL welcomed 16 participants to its first-ever Fall Retreat for College Advisors. We explored the concepts of calling and vocational discipleship, reviewed case studies at the high school, college, and postgraduate levels, and built valuable connections with each other. College advisors shared the following:
“The counselor track speakers provided such meaningful and rich content that allowed me to grow professionally and ignited an excitement within my spirit that I could not wait to take back and share with our teachers, parents and students. Thank you SCL Retreat team!”
“It was refreshing and convicting to consistently hear about how to guide students to their calling while pointing them to Jesus.”
New Track: Start-Up Schools
With record numbers of classical Christian schools launching each year, SCL is committed to developing resources and guidance towards these entrepreneurial endeavors. Former head of school and school co-founder, Jef Fowler, led a two-day boot camp on the foundations of school start-up, exploring everything from the clarification of the calling and articulation of the vision and mission to the marketing and admissions process to the logistical planning of operations for opening day.
Once again, this year’s retreat provided a much-needed opportunity for school leaders from nearly 50 schools to participate in enriching and stimulating instruction and fellowship, striking a balance between big ideas and practical implementation. We left this year’s Fall Retreat full of gratitude at being able to labor alongside wise but humble fellow school leaders and feeling encouraged and better equipped to flourish this school year.
A whopping 100% of those surveyed stated that they were likely to highly likely to recommend the SCL Fall Retreat to others! One Head of School summarized, “The Arête Retreat is a time for pausing mid-fall, reflecting on your leadership, and gearing up for the seasons to come with ideas for both personal and professional development.”
We encourage you to plan now to be a part of the 2024 Fall Arête Retreat.