Arete Retreat

SCL_Arete_2019 - SBTS BANNER

Who Should Attend?

Heads of School, Division Heads, Educators, and other members of school executive and administrative teams.

Content & Format

Arete Fellowship of Administrators

This fellowship of classical school leaders hosts small retreats in order to foster collaborative relationships, train new Heads of School and pursue excellent leadership practices.

Alcuin Fellowship of Educators

The Alcuin Fellowship is a fellowship of educators from around the nation passionately committed to the renewal of classical education around the world. The Fellowship engages in the research of classical curricula, pedagogy and culture, and seeks to practically implement our findings in schools and homeschools.

Available Focus Tracks


Owens, Davies
Davies Owens

Marketing A Timeless Story in a Changing Age
Located in Honeycutt 226

Examining clear vision and strategies for presenting classical Christian education to attract prospective families and convincingly reinforce the decisions of existing families and students in our schools.

Mailing out post cards and holding presentation-style open houses worked fairly well a decade ago, but today’s parents are school shopping in dramatically different ways (largely ones with screens). Their criteria reflects their generation’s expectations and aspirations which are often framed differently than we might assume. This track will dedicate Day One to presentations and interactive discussions based on the talks (subject to modification) and Day Two to workgroup sessions.

Track Presentations:
  • Barna Presentation: “Trends Shaping the Future of How We Live and Work”– Brooke Hempel, Senior VP of Research for the Barna Group, will present results from a number of recent Barna studies. She’ll examine shifts in the thinking and lives of families and present a revealing research study tracking effective marketing for today’s Christian school parents.
  • Head of School “Open House” Presentation: A number of school heads will present their “talk” that they deliver at prospective parent gatherings on the meaning of classical Christian education and the distinctives of their schools.
  • Top 5 “What’s Working”: Heads and administrators will share specific success stories, strategies and fresh initiatives that have gained traction and help to market schools, including what tools and resources they have found helpful.
  • “What in the World is Classical Christian Education?”: Davies Owens will build on his “Sling Shot Model” that shows how to winsomely frame and explain this question that many ask and few answer well. This is a continuation of the ideas presented in at SCL Austin 2019 at his keynote talk. Presentation includes interactive discussions of ways to implement.
  •  “Going Digital”: If showcasing a school digitally means more than a website, what are the essential places to be visible on social media platforms? What works with limited staff and budgets?

Workgroup Sessions:

If you attended last year’s Arete event in Charleston, you no doubt walked away encouraged by the workgroup sessions focused on case studies.  This format provides a proven systematic process for groups of 5 to work through exploring a specific problem and brainstorming practical solutions.  Once again, participants will be invited to submit a short synopsis of a marketing-related challenge at their school for consideration as a workgroup topic.  Both the presenter and participants will benefit from the discussion.


Perrin, Chris photo
Chris Perrin

The Christian Paideia of the Liberal and the Common Arts
Located in Honeycutt 246

This track will explore and discuss the ideas of Hugh of St. Victor as found in the Didascalicon. We ask all participants to purchase the book and read it before the retreat if possible. The track will feature five presentations but also host several “round table” discussions (led by the presenters) throughout the retreat in which everyone will explore ideas and applications.

Retreat Text: The Didascalicon by Hugh of St. Victor
Purchase Here.

Track Presentations:

Dr. Christopher Perrin, CEO of Classical Academic Press

  • Track host and emcee.

Dr. Brian Williams, Dean of the Templeton Honor’s College and Dean of the College of Arts and Humanities at Eastern University

  • Hugh of St. Victor: The Liberal Arts in Service of Philosophy and Theology
  • The Goodness of All Arts: The Scope of Artistic Education in Hugh of St. Victor

Christopher Hall, Founder of AlwaysLearning.org and former Lower School Dean at the Covenant School in Charlottesville, VA

  • The Rightful Place of the Common Arts in a Classical School: How to Attain a Harmony of the Liberal and Common Arts
  • Implementing the Common Arts: How to Plan and Set Up a Meaningful Common Arts Curriculum that Integrates Liberal Arts Learning

Dr. David Diener, Head of School at Hillsdale Academy

  • More information to come….

Heads of School

keith nix
Keith Nix

Money Matters: The Head’s Role in the Financial Leadership of the School
Located in the President’s Reception Room

Track Presentations:

The Head as the Financial Leader of the School
Given that most school heads don’t come into the job with a strong financial background, it is not unusual for a board member or someone in business office to know the numbers better than the Head of School (HOS). This puts the HOS in a weak position to lead and make important decisions. In this session we will cover why it’s crucial that the HOS is the financial leader, knowing the finances better than anyone, as well as how to make that happen. We will also discuss how the HOS works together with the board to ensure the financial health of the school.

Cost-based Tuition and Hard Income Coverage: What, Why, and How?
What does it mean to operate your school with “hard income” and what does that mean for tuition? We will look at the “cost-based tuition” model compared to traditional financial models that depend on fund-raising to make ends meet. Then we will cover how to transition your school to a more sustainable, viable position in just a few years. 

Strategic Financial Planning: Building a 5-7 Year Forecast That Works
Do you have a good idea of what your tuition rates will be in five years? What about your income and expenses? How much will you be able to grow your cash reserves in that time frame? If the answer is “I don’t know” or “I am not sure”, then this session it critical for you. Having at least a five-year detailed forecast is the most important tool for making good decisions today. We will study the ISM Strategic Financial Planning concept, and consider principles and tools to help you get started. 

Growing Your School and Your Bottom Line through Tuition Assistance
The true costs/benefits of a Tuition Assistance program are often not clearly understood. Many administrators and board member have a hard time understanding how a generous Tuition Assistance program can actually grow the school, and increase the bottom line annually. But done right, this can absolutely be the case. And that growth is greater than just enrollment growth as your school begins to serve a broader demographic.

The Head of School, the Board, and Fund-Raising: How Does It All Work?
There is probably not an area of school leadership that causes as much fear and anxiety as fund-raising. Frequently, it is not clear who should be doing what, and what the best way to approach fund-raising. Hopefully, as a head, you are bringing someone in your development office for the track led by Jason Lewis, or maybe you should go yourself! But if not, we will hit on some hot button issues and best practices for heads to consider. 

School Finances: Miscellany
As time allows and depending on your interests and questions, we can also discuss compensation, benefits, endowments, capital campaigns, and more. 

Guest Speaker

Gordon Riddle Pennington
Education & Freedom at Crossroads of Culture

Gordon Pennington is the Managing Director of Burning Media Group, a boutique marketing communications firm providing custom solutions to a select worldwide client base.

As a marketing communications and advertising professional Gordon Pennington has worked as a corporate director of marketing as well as an advisor to some of the world’s largest companies.  He is also a communications theorist and practitioner with a particular interest in the impact of contemporary media and its effects, both conscious and subconscious, on individuals, families, societies and global culture.  Beyond critical analysis, his work is focused on the creation of effective strategies in the development of media and cultural content while seeking to understand constructive ways to evaluate, discern, interpret, and respond to the communications and media onslaught in the technologically focused West as well as in the developing world.  He has been described by The Wall Street Journal as “a Hi-Tech Traveler in Lo-Tech Countries.”  If “the media is the message” as Marshall McLuhan asserts, Pennington seeks to better understand the message and assist clients in making their communications more effective.

Mr. Pennington views the subject media and cultural change not merely as an academic observer but as an insider. After developing award winning marketing communications for Citicorp and serving as a consultant to both Chase Manhattan Bank and J.P. Morgan Bank, he turned to fast growth consumer product markets, serving as Director of Marketing for Tommy Hilfiger, where he helped position it as the fastest growing menswear company in the world.

Working with The United States Council on Economic Development, Mr. Pennington led the team to assist American CEO’s in assessing emerging Soviet investment opportunities at the end of the Communist era. He has also managed marketing and strategy assignments and been advisor to Apple Computer, British Airways, the CBS Television Network, the Coca-Cola Company, Equinox Fitness, the Oxford Analytica, Meyado Investment Bank of London, Her Majesty’s Ministry of Defence in the UK and the Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale University where he is also a board member.

Along with his career in marketing and communications, Mr. Pennington has been a trustee of The Universal Literacy Project and gained a rich understanding of the significance of literacy as a fundamental necessity in the development of sustainable cultures and economies, with particular interest in the international educational setting. He has appeared on television and lectures in the United States and abroad where he has been a speaker on media, culture and communications and other related subjects at Columbia University, New York University, Yale, Princeton, Michigan State University, The University of Virginia, Universite de Montreal, Guelph University, McMaster University, McGill University, Oxford University and Cambridge University. He has also provided briefings on media, culture and communications to The White House, members of Congress and the Senate in the United States and members of the British Parliament.  He studied international human rights law at the University of Strasbourg and has been a visiting scholar at the Wolfsberg think tank for Union Bank of Switzerland.

Pennington was co-Chairman of the Aldous Huxley Centenary in conjunction with the BBC, has served on Carnegie Hall’s Second Century Council, was co-chairman of the Tanzania Wildlife Fund’s benefit initiative for the African Rainforest, has been a featured speaker and advisor to the International Arts Movement, member of the board of the Jose Limon Dance Company and Foundation in New York City, and founding vice president and board member of charity: water.  He has addressed screenwriters at Fordham University and in Hollywood, California on the theme of culture and media Influence in the film industry. His photography has been published in The New York Times and he has produced and directed four documentary films.

Pennington was a Senior Strategist at The Marketing & Planning Group, Inc., established in 1971, where he headed strategy and creative development and marketing communications in New York and London under the founder Malcolm Whittier Pennington.  He serves today as Managing Director of Burning Media Group in New York. He is now writing and actively serving clients by helping them better express and define their organizational narrative, clarifying their corporate story, and building their brand presence — while connecting brands to new audiences through empowered new uses of social media.


Thursday, October 24

8:00 – 8:30 AM | Welcome & Devotion
Eric Cook | Heritage Hall
8:30 – 11:30 AM | Focus Track Presentations
President’s Reception Room, Honeycutt 226 & 246
11:30 – 1:00 PM | Lunch
Heritage Hall
1:00 – 4:00 PM | Focus Track Presentations
President’s Reception Room, Honeycutt 226 & 246


Friday, October 25

8:00 – 8:30 AM | Coffee & Fellowship
Heritage Hall
8:35 – 9:30 AM | Workgroup I
President’s Reception Room, Honeycutt 226 & 246
9:35 – 10:30 AM | Workgroup II
President’s Reception Room, Honeycutt 226 & 246
10:35 – 11:30 AM | Workgroup III
President’s Reception Room, Honeycutt 226 & 246
11:30 – 1:00 PM | Lunch
Heritage Hall
1:05 – 2:00 PM | Workgroup IV
President’s Reception Room, Honeycutt 226 & 246
2:05 – 3:00 PM | Workgroup V
President’s Reception Room, Honeycutt 226 & 246
3:15 – 4:00 PM | Reflection & Discussion
President’s Reception Room, Honeycutt 226 & 246
4:00 – 6:00 PM | Break
6:00 – 9:00 PM | Dinner w/ Focus Tracks
*Enjoy dinner on your own*


Saturday, October 26

8:30 – 9:00 AM | Welcome & Devotion
Heritage Hall
9:00 – 10:00 AM | General Session
Gordon Pennington | Heritage Hall
10:00 – 10:15 AM | Break
10:15 – 11:30 AM | Discussion Groups
Heritage Hall
11:30 – 12:00 PM | Final Reflection, Dismissal
Heritage Hall


The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Legacy Hotel & Conference Center
2825 Lexington Road Louisville, KY 40280

Hotel Reservations are Closed


SCL Member Early Bird Registration Fee (by October 7): $600

Non-Member Early Bird Registration Fee (by October 7): $650

SCL Member Registration Fee: $650

Non-Member Registration Fee: $700

Registration is Closed