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Courage to Teach, Winter Edition: Renewing Your Heart as an Educator – Seeking Deep Rest, Seeing Light in the Dark

Friday, February 2, 2018 - Sunday, February 4, 2018

River's Edge Conference & Retreat Center - Cleveland, OH

February 2-4, 2018
Fri 6pm to Sun 1pm

River’s Edge Conference and Retreat Center
Cleveland, Ohio

$550-290 (Details below)

Please register by Thursday, January 18, 2018.
For early registration discount, please register by December 22, 2017.

Click to register now

Each seasonal Courage to Teach retreat stands on its own with a fresh theme, and you can come as often as you like to these intergenerational opportunities.  Prior participation is not required.

Remember why you became an educator in the first place.

Courage to Teach® is a unique approach to professional development that helps (re)connect who educators are with what they do.

You are invited to join an experience that will transform your capacity to be a wholehearted educator.

This retreat offering is based on the Circle of Trust® approach developed by Parker J. Palmer and the Center for Courage & Renewal® and focuses on renewing the inner lives of educators rather than content knowledge or teaching techniques. Over 25,000 educators across the United States have participated, rekindling and fueling their passion for educating.

“What we learn in the dark will see us through.” 

– Gregory Maguire 

When you’re pulled by competing demands and roles, how can you feed and revitalize your journey toward an undivided, wholehearted life? How has your own life – your inner teacher, your inner source of truth – been waiting to light your path? How might your calling as an educator hope to shine with your students and community? Explore reflective practices to support your authenticity, engagement and hidden wholeness, as we welcome the gifts of solitude and community. 

The retreat is rooted in exploring how “winter,” with its gifts and dynamics, shows up in our lives as educators.

We broadly define educators as all those who influence others’ learning. Only some of those are in classrooms, or paid as such. This opportunity is open to:

  • Staff, trustees and administrators, in preK-12, higher education or adult education, from public, private, religious, charter, or community settings.
  • Community organizers, coaches, child care workers, religious leaders and volunteers.
  • Whether one is paid or unpaid in shaping the learning for others.
  • Whether or not one has previous experience in this gently powerful approach.

Ohio Courage & Renewal retreats have been intentionally growing in the rich diversity of participants’ backgrounds. In the last retreat, nearly half the participants were men, nearly one third were young adults, and nearly one third were community organizers. Work settings spanned from preK to graduate faculty, as well as those on staff and in district administration, or from neighborhood or adult settings – and included those in transition. Among those gathered, there was a range of life experiences and identities, including religious, racial, socio-economic, geographic, national origin, and more. The hospitable practices of this retreat invite us to create a respectful atmosphere that is both safe and brave to journey in the gentle ways of solitude and community, fueled by the deeper gifts of who we are and what we do.

Each seasonal Courage to Teach retreat stands on its own with a fresh theme and content, rooted in the same deeply grounded principles and processes.

What are the results?

Previous Courage to Teach programs in Ohio average a satisfaction rating of 4.8 out of 5 based on a composite of 11 subcategories. Here are two participants’ comments:

"quote-L“One of the finest programs for renewal that I have experienced in my 44 year career at all levels of organizational structure.” —Bill Miller, former 2-term president of the National Catholic Catechetical League/NCCL

"quote-L“Exceeded expectations by far, and I do not say that lightly… I am a very analytical type and I am often disappointed at the shallowness of gatherings of this type. This was tremendous.” — Kim Langley, NEORTC “Trainer of the Year” and President of LifeBalance Enterprises, Inc

Hear from Dr. Debbie Stanley and the results she has had as a teacher by paying attention to her inner life with Courage to Teach®:

Based on evaluations, this unique professional development program makes a very positive difference for educators. Participants consistently report:

  • Renewed satisfaction and commitment to their profession;
  • Improved connections with students and classroom practice;
  • Strengthened collegial relationships at their school sites.

Please click here for the Summary of Evaluations from the Courage to Teach Ohio Pilot Project. This 12-page professional evaluation was completed by Dr. Robert Fischer of Case Western Reserve University, Research Professor of evaluation at the Mandel School of Applied Socials Sciences, who summarized, “…the powerful changes reported by attendees suggest tremendous lasting value for them from CTT. For many, CTT has allowed them to set in place new ways of thinking and new behaviors that increase their ability to handle stress and avoid burn-out in their career. In particular, four themes are highlighted: skills towards others; self-care skills; connectedness; and reinvigoration.”

Check out other evaluations to see key benefits of this model.

standinggroupWhat happens at the retreats?

In large-group, small-group, and solitary settings, “the heart of a teacher” is explored. We’ll make use of seasonal themes, rich metaphors of nature, personal stories, reflections on classroom practice, and insights from poets, storytellers, and various wisdom traditions. Skilled facilitators create a quiet, open, hospitable, focused space—a Circle of Trust® — in hopes that the noise within us and around us can subside. How individuals participate and what is shared is always their choice.

Learn more about Courage to Teach® including stories, online resources, podcasts, and books.

Interested in other seasonal standalone, mini-retreat, or the monthly short evenings also rooted in the Circle of Trust approach in the Northeast Ohio area?

Prior participation is not required – all are welcomed, including those with previous experience in the Courage and Renewal approach.  Mark your calendar or share with a friend…

>>> Inviting the Spirit of Winter: Welcoming the Gifts of January Landscapes. A Seasonal Mini-Retreat for All @ Centering Space, Lakewood. Saturday, January 20, 9:30am-12:30pm.

>>> Part of the monthly open-enrollment series “Spaciousness for the Soul: An Evening in the Circle of Trust” @ Centering Space, Lakewood. 7 – 8:30pm with optional light supper at 6:30pm. No previous experience required. Upcoming session:
 Thursday, December 14 In Winter’s Thin Light, Tending the Inner Flame

Upcoming Courage to Teach weekends:
>>> The Spring Edition is April 27-29, 2018 at Villa Maria, PA. Details TBA. Each one has a fresh theme and new content.

Meet Your Retreat Team

Tony-VentoTony Vento, Courage & Renewal Facilitator, knows in his very soul the power of people coming together in respectful small circles, linked with other circles, for renewing and transforming ourselves, our workplaces, and our communities. He is grateful to those generous and wise teachers in high school, college and beyond who encouraged him to create such circles, seeing his gifts before he did. His favorite teachers include Mrs. Molder who not only created his first peer learning circles, but read aloud The Little Prince, and graciously welcomed her fourth graders to sing Let There Be Peace On Earth at her wedding. Tony loves all water sports especially whitewater kayaking – which, like much of his life, gathers circles of trusted people to share stories, chart paths, quiet fears and enjoy what can be created by making the most of lively currents. More information about his professional work can be found at Over the past seven years, he has been introducing the practices and principles that ground Courage to Teach® in Northeast Ohio educational and community settings, including Case Western Reserve University, as well as the national Catholic Campus Ministers Association.

deborah=zawislanDeborah Zawislan, Ph.D. is President of Connexions, llc, a professional development firm helping individuals connect to what matters through work-place learning, executive coaching and leadership development programs. Deborah is an adjunct professor, certified coach, spiritual director and has provided support for all three Courage to Teach retreats in Ohio. Her 25+ years of experience span the private and public sectors of education, nonprofit, law, and management consulting. She has provided leadership development and instruction for organizations including Squire, Sanders & Dempsey, Ernst & Young, The University of Akron, John Carroll University, and the Cleveland Metropolitan School District.

Alyssa Conklin-Moore is an A.M.I Montessori educator (0-6) and mother of two.  She is being trained as a Facilitator by the Center for Courage & Renewal.  She speaks internationally for organizations advancing peace education, social change and human rights.


About Our Venue

A place of reflection and action, a ministry of the Congregation of St Joseph, River’s Edge’s mission is to support you in your personal transformation. By supporting individuals on their journeys to wholeness, we can contribute to creating a more whole world!

This is an accessible location sensitive to your dietary matters.

Application, Deadlines, Costs

Fees: Tuition includes program and all materials, all meals, and lodging (single occupancy).
– Full-Tuition/Institutional Rate: $550.
– Partial Scholarships Rate: $290 for those who request scholarships.
Further financial aid and payment plans are available thanks to underwriting via anonymous donors. Please contact Tony Vento via or call (216) 313- 0546 for more information, or for determining an alternate payment plan if needed.

Discounts: 1) Early registration $40 discount for all who apply before December 22. This discount will be applied to the remainder of your tuition after you’ve been accepted. 2) From full tuition, 5% for your 2nd retreat in Ohio, 10% for your 3rd retreat and 15% for your 4th retreat. Discounts are combinable.

Credits:  CEUs and graduate credits are pending. Please inquire.

Application: There are 3 parts to the application (more details below): 1) register online, 2) provide a short personal statement, and 3) submit $50 application fee. Further information is available on the registration website.

> Please begin the process by registering online here and paying your $50 application fee.

> Please write a short personal statement (no more than 2 pages, and it can be much less) that includes the following information:

    • Please briefly describe your past, current and future journey as an educator, and how you hope to benefit from participating in Courage to Teach.
    • Please share any background information or experience that might add to the diversity of the Courage to Teach group. (Optional)

These responses are taken into account for the retreat design. Your personal statement can be emailed to Tony Vento  (

> Your $50 application fee is applied toward your total payment, and the fee is refundable if you are not accepted.

Until both your personal statement and application fee are received, your application is not considered complete. You will be notified when your application is complete, and it will be acted upon within 10 days.

Application deadline: The application deadline is January 18, 2018. Most Ohio retreats have had more applicants than spaces, so you are encouraged to apply early. Applications will be fielded until 22 spots are filled, or January 18. Whether before or after January 18, please don’t hesitate to inquire with Tony Vento to learn if spaces remain. Early discount deadline: Dec 22.

Cancellation policy: We understand that life challenges emerge and changes happen. Please keep in mind that once funds have been committed on your behalf, there are no refunds for your payments. But if your slot can be filled by another admitted applicant, refunds of your payments are possible, except for the application fee.

Questions about this program? Contact….
For more information, visit, or contact Tony Vento via or call (216)-313-0546.

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