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2017-18 Courage to Teach Seasonal Retreat Series

Friday, October 6, 2017 - Sunday, September 30, 2018

Santa Sabina Center - San Rafael, CA

October 6-8, 2017
February 2-4, 2018
April 6-8, 2018
July 6-8, 2018
September 28-30, 2018

Santa Sabina Center
Dominican University
San Rafael, California

$1200 for five retreats
(thanks to generous support)



In a time when stress and pressure on teachers and administrators continues to rise because of internal and external demands, Courage to Teach® provides educators with an opportunity for rest, renewal and re-engagement with their identity and integrity as teachers.

Margaret Golden, a professor in Dominican’s School of Education and Counseling Psychology, directs Courage to Teach, the only retreat series of its kind in Northern California which focuses on renewing the inner lives of professionals in education.

“When we provide teachers with opportunities for becoming more mindful about their own practice, amazing things can occur,” Golden says. “Through participation in a Circle of Trust®, personal transformation can lead to the transformation of schools and institutions.”

What to Expect:

The program offers educators opportunities to reflect on the inner dimension of teaching and leading and explore “the heart of a teacher.” At each retreat, 20-25 participants gather to engage in honest self-reflection and to explore questions about purpose, values, and commitment to their challenging work. In doing so, they increase their capacity to listen, to stay true to their mission, and to engage with the work of teaching wholeheartedly.

academy2013-pairIn large group, small group, and solitary settings, participants will make use of stories from their own journeys, reflections on classroom practice, and insights from poets, story-tellers, and diverse wisdom traditions. They are invited to speak earnestly about their lives and work, and to listen and respond to each other—and to themselves—with encouragement and compassion.

Click to learn more about the Circle of Trust approach, developed by Parker J. Palmer and the Center for Courage & Renewal.

Kelly Camak is helping teachers cultivate confidence.

“Many teachers view the program as an antidote to the increasingly narrow focus on standardized testing in schools,” Golden says. “That’s compelling for teachers right now.”

On top of that, Courage to Teach helps teachers deal with the burnout and stress brought on internally by cutbacks and looming teacher layoffs, increased class sizes, decreased learning time, student behavioral issues and fewer counselors in addition to external pressure caused by increased poverty, high unemployment and rising expectations among parents.

"quote-LThe retreats provided guided opportunities and time to be able to reflect deeply on the guiding principles and values for myself as an educator, when neither the time nor context is as available in the school or home settings.”

"quote-LI feel a clearer sense of satisfaction and purpose. Each activity helped me to know myself better. It cleared the pathway to be more engaged with students and colleagues.”

"quote-LI learned to allow heart into everything I do. To embrace each of my students’ perspectives, lives, hopes, and interests.”

The Benefits:

This unique professional development series can help you develop:

  • A stronger sense of purpose, renewed commitment & increased satisfaction with your work.
  • A heightened sense of personal and professional renewal, readiness to return to work refreshed and energized.
  • An increased capacity to be fully present in your work by providing a reprieve from the hectic bustle of teaching.
  • A deepened capacity to tune in to the individual needs and gifts of students and colleagues.
  • Expanded capacity to be resilient and purposeful in your work as an educator.

Experiences in these supportive circles have been effective in helping teachers create safer spaces and trusting relationships in their schools, with their students and colleagues, and within their communities. Past participants consistently rate the experience very highly.

Also check out these important findings on other key benefits, drawn from research and evaluation on Courage to Teach®.

About Our Venue: 

The 2017-2018 Courage to Teach Seasonal Retreat Series will be held at the lovely Santa Sabina Center adjacent to the Dominican campus in San Rafael, California.  The Center and staff are dedicated to providing sacred space in a beautiful environment for groups and individuals to experience contemplative ways of being.

Santa Sabina Center | 25 Magnolia Avenue | San Rafael, CA 94901
(415) 457-7727 |

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Meet Your Courage & Renewal Facilitators:

 Rona Zollinger, NLC’s co-founding board member and Empowering Educators Program Manager/Facilitator finds inspiration in the process of imagining educational environments that nurture connections between teachers, students, communities and the earth. In addition to her after-hours workshop facilitation, she works as the College and Career Pathways Coordinator for Martinez Unified School District. For the last decade, she facilitated a transdisciplinary curriculum for at-risk youth where students and community leaders worked in concert for learning and change called the New Leaf Leadership Academy. She was recently the Contra Costa County Teacher of the Year and a National Geographic Grosvenor Teacher Fellow.

celesteCeleste Hoffpauir, M.Ed. teaches Academic Leadership and Ethnic Studies at Leadership Public School, Hayward. Concerned by the teacher attrition rates all around her, she is committed to exploring professional and personal ways to sustain and revitalize the work of an urban educator. She lives in Oakland, California with her partner, Jay.


Registration & Fees:


Cost: $1200 for the 5 retreat series (payable in two $600 installments or a single payment of $1200). Participants must commit to attendance at all five retreats. The cost includes single occupancy lodging, meals, and materials.

The actual program cost is $600 per retreat. This reduced rate is made possible for K-12 educators by a generous grant from the Kalliopeia Foundation.

Participation: Participation is limited to 25 individuals.

Retreat Details: For each retreat, participants may check into their rooms beginning at 4:00 p.m. Friday afternoon. We begin our first session before dinner on Friday and conclude with lunch on Sunday. Upon registration and deposit, participants will receive an email with detailed information, including directions and preparatory materials.

CEU: CEU available through Dominican University of California.

Cancellation Policy: Cancellations are subject to a $300 administration fee, and must be made 4 weeks prior to the first retreat date to receive any refund.

Questions about this program? Contact…

Margaret Golden at

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