The Courage to Teach® : A Retreat for Educators

Friday – Saturday, April 26 – 27, 2013

Prairie Oaks Institute, Belle Plaine, Minnesota

Register Now!


“Good teaching cannot be reduced to technique; good teaching comes from the identity and integrity of the teacher….

“Good teachers…weave a complex web of connections among themselves, their subjects, and their students so that students can learn to weave a world for themselves….  The connections made by good teachers are held not in their intellects but in their hearts – meaning hearts in the ancient sense, as the place where intellect, emotion and will converge.”

 ~ Parker J. Palmer

The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner

Landscapes of a Teacher’s Life

Do you have a passion for teaching, yet feel the need for renewal, for talking about ideas in a safe space with like-minded colleagues?  Do you yearn to revive your heart for the work in the face of the pressures that can sometimes make it so hard?  Do you want to explore ways to “reconnect your soul and your role” so that you can be more present with students and colleagues?  The Courage to Teach® Retreat offers a quiet, supportive space for such exploration. Taking advantage of the hushed stillness of winter and of the impulse to curl up around a warm fire, this retreat is a rare gift in a hectic world. 

The Courage to Teach® Retreat is an opportunity to explore your own sense of identity, purpose, and calling in the teaching life; to reweave the deep connection between what you do and who you are; and to renew your capacity to live and work from a place of wholeness and authenticity.  Grounded in the truths of your own stories and questions, and guided by the Circles of Trust® model and the bestselling book The Courage to Teach by author and educator Parker J. Palmer, this retreat invites you to step with intention into a time and place apart.

The retreat begins Friday morning, April 26, at 9:00 a.m. and concludes by 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 27.  We will gather in the beauty of the quiet winter landscapes at Prairie Oaks Institute, at the edge of Belle Plaine, Minnesota, just southwest of the Twin Cities.  The retreat will be led by Courage and Renewal facilitator Chris Johnson, Director for Vocation and Integrative Learning in the Center for Servant Leadership at Gustavus Adolphus College; and by Cynthia Heelan, a retired educator who works with organizations to help them listen to the hearts and voices of all their employees. 

As a pilot project of Gustavus and Prairie Oaks, we are able to make this unique and life-giving opportunity available at a substantially reduced cost of only $95 per person, including overnight lodging (in shared bedrooms), meals, and materials.  Space is limited to 18 participants, so please register early (by April 12, at the latest). REGISTER!

We look forward to having you with us!


What are the benefits of Courage to Teach?

CTT helps each educator strengthen his or her sense of identity and integrity. Men and women, individuals of all backgrounds and belief systems, experienced educators and novices—each has a unique experience based on the questions she or he brings. Across the nation, educators report common powerful benefits:

  • a renewed passion for teaching
  • strengthened relationships with colleagues
  • increased commitment to vocation
  • more time spent reflecting on professional practice
  • improved relationships with students
  • a revitalization of interest in acting as leaders for educational change.

Comments from teachers who have participated in previous CTT retreats:

I am discovering a newer, deeper connection to my identity as a teacher.

Getting to know myself better has brought me to a deeper place with my students.

I try to be more quiet, to allow silence more, to create more, to inspire more…  I did our closing ceremony in May with my kids and they really loved it.

CTT has given me a teaching community to come to where the energy feels supportive and welcoming and not competitive.

I realize the great need that exists with teachers to participate in such a renewal process.


Dr. Chris Johnson is Director for Vocation and Integrative Learning and Associate Director of the Center for Servant Leadership at Gustavus Adolphus College, and a Courage and Renewal© facilitator prepared by the Center for Courage and Renewal

Dr. Cynthia Heelan is a retired educator, college president, and author who works with organizations to help them listen to the hearts and voices of all their employees.

Location:  “Harvest House” at Prairie Oaks Institute,

1200 W. South St., Belle Plaine, MN.

POI is a nonprofit retreat, education, and sustainable living center – a 20-acre “learning campus” – located on a 110-year-old farm on the edge of Belle Plaine, on the southwest outskirts of the Twin Cities.  POI’s mission is to be a catalyst of rejuvenation for people and the planet, and its work is to nourish expansive imagination, bold thinking, wise action, and cross-sector solutions to the unprecedented environmental and social challenges of our time. 

Please visit for more information, and directions.

For more information, contact:

Chris Johnson at the Gustavus Center for Servant Leadership, phone 507-933-7159 or email