FINDING YOUR TRUE NORTH: Educator Retreat (July 15-17)


[semester equivalent = 1.33 credits]



Mike Seymour




July 15-17, 2020

Menucha Retreat Center

Personal and professional stresses can cause us to lose our “true north.” That inner heart center where we feel like our true selves and engage life with passion and confidence. Come and recover your inner compass back home to an inspired, hopeful you with the tools to maintain after your retreat. In our three days at the lovely Menucha Retreat and Conference Center, we will: 

  1. Affirm and recognize where your true north is, the heart center of relatedness, love, wisdom, truth and courage.
  2. Understand how to balance your essential, vital self with your social self. 
  3. Explore how to counter the negative tapes that too often run in the mind. 
  4. Practice deep breathing, mindfulness and self-reflection to reset in stressful situations.
  5. Use journal keeping to deepen our reflection and recover our inner compass.
  6. Explore the role of vulnerability and truth-telling in achieving inner freedom.
  7. Practice gratefulness and loving kindness to warm the heart and counter feelings of in adequacy and insufficiency
  8. Reflect on how to take learning from the retreat back to our personal and professional lives. 

In addition to the many connections you’ll make with like-minded educator, you’ll be in a partnership with another participant for support, both during and after the retreat. This retreat is appropriate for educators at all levels, school counselors and psychologists as well as administrators. This retreat will be facilitated by experienced Heritage Institute instructors Mike Seymour and Brenda McKinney.


LEARNING OUTCOMES: Upon completion of this course, participants will have:

  • Become more grounded in a sense of true self.
  • Gained a better understanding of internal negative messages and its effect on mental outlook, emotions and physical health.
  • Practiced mindfulness and breathing exercises to recover from confused and conflicted states of mind
  • Experienced the positive effects of a grateful mindset
  • Understood and experienced the power in being vulnerable and speaking hard-to-tell truths.

Completion of all specified assignments is required for issuance of hours or credit. The Heritage Institute does not award partial credit.

Completing the basic assignments (Section A. Information Acquisition) for this course automatically earns participant’s their choice of CEUs (Continuing Education Units), or Washington State Clock Hours or Oregon PDUs. The Heritage Institute offers CEUs and is an approved provider of Washington State Clock Hours and Oregon PDUs.



Continuing Education Quarter credits are awarded by Antioch University Seattle (AUS). AUS requires 75% or better for credit at the 400 level and 85% or better to issue credit at the 500 level. These criteria refer both to the amount and quality of work submitted.

  1. Completion of Information Acquisition assignments 30%
  2. Completion of Learning Application assignments 40%
  3. Completion of Integration Paper assignment 30%


CREDIT/NO CREDIT (No Letter Grades or Numeric Equivalents on Transcripts)
Antioch University Seattle (AUS) Continuing Education Quarter credit is offered on a Credit/No Credit basis; neither letter grades nor numeric equivalents are on a transcript. 400 level credit is equal to a "C" or better, 500 level credit is equal to a "B" or better. This information is on the back of the transcript.

AUS Continuing Education quarter credits may or may not be accepted into degree programs. Prior to registering determine with your district personnel, department head or state education office the acceptability of these credits for your purpose.



None. All reading is online.





Assignments done in a course forum will show responses from all educators active in the course. Feel free to read and respond to others comments. 

Assignment #1: COURSE FORUM: Introduction & Aspirations

Share what you would like those in this space to know about yourself professionally and personally. Explain what drew you to this retreat. In what ways do you hope to be and feel different as a result of the experience? Please read and comment on the postings of 2-3 other participants. (and if you’re one of the first to register come back later).

NOTE: No further assignments required for those taking this course for clock hours or PDU's. CREDIT REGISTRANTS: Please DO NOT do the following assignments until AFTER the retreat. Thank you. 

Assignment #2: COURSE FORUM: Exploring Practices

In this assignment, you’ll have an opportunity to explore some practices that will benefit your sense of well-being. Several of these practices were introduced at the retreat. I suggest you try each one at least once and then commit to doing one or more practices daily for two weeks. If none of the following suit you, please follow whatever practices you have worked for you in the past, like quiet walks, yoga, etc.

When your two weeks is over, write a 500+ word reflection describing: 

                         a) The practice(s) you worked with. 
                         b) Any difficulties you may have encountered and how you dealt with them. 
                         c) The positive outcomes.

Comment on what changes in you noticed and if you feel you have the resolve to continue any one or more practices. 

  • Keep a Gratitude Journal-Read the instructions  and try also exploring a daily question as suggested on the Gratefulness web site.
  • Loving Kindness Meditation, designed by Emma Seppala, Science Director of Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education. If you want read the text first, and then return to top of the page, sit relaxed and play the audio file where the guided meditation is given.
  • Breath Meditation from Sharon Salzburg. Sharon is a well known Buddhist meditation teacher. I suggest you read in its entirety and then do the practice.
Download file

An alternative for those of the Christian faith is to practice Centering Prayer with instructions given in this video by Fr. Thomas Keating, former Abbot of  Snowmass Abbey, Colorado and one of the founders of this technique. Review the video one or more times, and then do the prayer. It’s not necessary at this point to continue for 20 minutes, but try for at least 10 minutes.

Assignment #3: COURSE FORUM: Brene Brown & The Power of Vulnerability

Brene Brown and the Power of Vulnerability
In Brene Brown’s TED Talk she comments on her research that found characteristics of what she identified as wholehearted people.  They:

  • Have the courage to be imperfect
  • Have the compassion to be kind to themselves first, and then others
  • Make connections with others as a result of their  authenticity
  • Are willing to let go of who they thought they should be in favor of being who they are

1) View the video 

2) In 500+ words, describe a situation in which you feel you embodied one or more of these characteristics and another situation in which you did not. What fears, concerns and habitual patterns caused you not to be wholehearted?

Assignment #4: COURSE FORUM: The Power in Telling the Truth

“You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free” (John 8:32) is one of the Christian scriptures that has become a wisdom saying in the secular world. Telling the truth is closely aligned with Brene Brown’s work on courage and vulnerability, but comes with some additional perspectives.

Describe in 500+ words one or more situations and relationships in which you feel you are out of integrity and need to become realigned with your truth. Describe what you need to say and how you would go about that in 400-500 words.



In this section you will apply your learning to your professional situation. This course assumes that most participants are classroom teachers who have access to students. If you do not have a classroom available to you, please contact the instructor for course modifications. Assignments done in a course forum will show responses from all educators active in the course. Feel free to read and respond to others comments. 


Assignment #5: COURSE FORUM: Collecting Resources

In the retreat, and prior to assignments, we have covered a variety of subjects that can, in some way, be translated and adapted for use with students. Issues of meaning, purpose, being yourself, being open and willing to tell your truth, as well as mindful, caring practices all fall within the purview of social and emotional learning (SEL) which is today being given the recognition in education which it deserves.
Select one or more areas to focus on and build a resource list of books, articles, website and videos.
Present your resource list (3+ pages) in the form of a powerpoint, Google sites, Prezi, or video with subtitles.

Assignment #6: COURSE FORUM: Action or Lesson Plan

Assignment # -6-A:

  • Adapt/create an activity or lesson reflecting what you’ve learned in this course.
  • Implement your lesson with students in your classroom.
  • Write a 400-500 word commentary on what worked well and what could be improved.
  • Include any student feedback or noteworthy student products.
  • Submit your lesson to your instructor via the lesson tab below. 
  • Share what you've learned with other teachers taking our courses by checking the lesson library box when you submit your lesson.  


Assignment #6-B:

  • Use this option if you do not have a classroom available.
  • Adapt/create a lesson to reflect what you’ve learned in this course. (Do not implement it.)
  • Write a 500+ word article concerning any noteworthy success you’ve had as a teacher with one or more students.
  • Please refer to the guidelines for our blog What Works: Teaching at its Best prior to writing your article.
  • When you submit your article to your instructor, please also email a copy to Mike Seymour 
  • Indicate whether or not you are OK with having your article considered for publishing on our website. 
  • Submit your article to your instructor via Response field and the modified lesson via Submit Lesson.  
  • As you submit your lesson, consider sharing it with other teachers taking our courses by checking the lesson library box.

Assignment #7: (500 Level ONLY): Outside Reading

Select a book from the bibliography or another of your own choosing, and in 500+ words:

  • Prepare a brief summary of the text
  • Identify and describe the 3-5 most salient themes you took away from your reading
  • Describe one or more points which you consider "game-changers" for you and
  • Elaborate on how you plan to implement this learning into your professional and personal lives


Assignment #8: (Required for 400 and 500 Level)

(Please do not write this paper until you've completed all of your other assignments)

Write a 350-500 word Integration Paper answering these 5 questions:

  1. What did you learn vs. what you expected to learn from this course?
  2. What aspects of the course were most helpful and why?
  3. What further knowledge and skills in this general area do you feel you need?
  4. How, when and where will you use what you have learned?
  5. How and with what other school or community members might you share what you learned?


Please indicate by email to the instructor if you would like to receive comments on your assignments.


Mike Seymour, M.S., has been associated with K-12 education since 1990, most recently in his role as President and Co-Director of The Heritage Institute. Mike is also the founder and Director of a non-profit sponsored by The Heritage Institute, Youth for a New World, which engages youth in global issues and local solutions. Earlier Mike was a consultant and trainer to schools, school districts and Educational Service Districts on such diverse subjects as leadership, visioning and planning and at-risk students. Mike has been board member, Chairman of the Board and volunteer Executive Director of Community for Youth, a highly innovative and successful mentoring program for disadvantaged students in three of Seattle’s most low-performing high schools. Mike authored a text—Educating for Humanity: Rethinking the Purposes of Education—calling on a new vision for education, showing how important the stakes are today for an integral education realizing the interconnectedness of the world. Mike's Awakening Self blog speaks about the important historic shift humanity is going through in our times, and how awakening into a new consciousness is a global phenomenon. Mike also authored a book about his work in Burundi, East Central Africa with a peacemaker, Priosper Ndabishuriye, 

As part of Mike's dedication to environmental causes he attended in 2013 the Climate Reality training given by Al Gore and his organization, and subsequently created an online course titlede CLIMATE CHANGE FOR TEACHERS AND STUDENTS, instructed by Charity Staudenraus.  

Mike has a special interest in open, democratic forms of education that allow students to engage in real world issues. Mike has a B.S. in Comparative Literature from Columbia University and a M.S. in Marriage & Family Therapy from Seattle Pacific University.


FINDING YOUR TRUE NORTH: Educator Retreat (July 15-17)

Beck, Martha. 2002. Finding Your Own North Star: Claiming the Life You Were Meant to Live. New York. Three River Press.     New York Times bestselling author and Life Designs, Inc. creator Martha Beck shares her step-by-step program that will guide you to fulfill your own potential and create a joyful life.

Brown, Brene. 2015. Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. New York. Penguin Random House.                                                                                                                                                        Brown explains how vulnerability is both the core of difficult emotions like fear, grief, and disappointment, and the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, empathy, innovation, and creativity. She writes: “When we shut ourselves off from vulnerability, we distance ourselves from the experiences that bring purpose and meaning to our lives.” She dispels the myth that vulnerability is weakness and argues that it is, in truth, our most accurate measure of courage.                          

Palmer, Parker. 1999. Let Your Life speak: Listening to the Voice of Vocation. San Francisco. Jossey-Bass.                                  With wisdom, compassion, and gentle humor, Parker J. Palmer invites us to listen to the inner teacher and follow its leadings toward a sense of meaning and purpose. Telling stories from his own life and the lives of others who have made a difference, he shares insights gained from darkness and depression as well as fulfillment and joy, illuminating a pathway toward vocation for all who seek the true calling of their lives.

Steindl-Rast, David. 1984. Gratefulness, The Heart of Prayer: An Approach to Life in Fulness. New York. W.W. Norton & co.      This powerful book by a Benedictine monk  has launched a quiet movement to understand and practice a life of gratefulness. The simple truths in this approach to spiritual development has been taken up by the Gratefulness ( organization which supports practitioners with daily meditations, stories and other means of grateful reflection.