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Teachers Fostering Their Love of Learning Outside the Classroom

Great Hearts Academies February 5, 2024 -

Faculty Seminar

We are just past the halfway point of the school year and the faculty and staff at Great Hearts Arizona recently received some much-needed motivation to finish the remainder of the year strong as they, with our scholars, continue their pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty throughout the long hours and hectic schedules of the winter and spring terms.

Great Hearts teachers across the Arizona region gathered for the 2024 Spring In-Service Day. On this day, students enjoyed a half-day schedule, freeing our faculty and staff in the afternoon to engage in a wide range of professional development opportunities. The in-service day was meticulously planned to include numerous training sessions held at different campuses and venues, allowing educators to not only enhance their skills but also to relax and connect with colleagues. They were invited to partake in leisure activities, fostering good conversation and camaraderie in some of the Valley’s most inspiring locations.

Faculty on a hike

“This year, nearly 1,500 faculty and staff members signed-up for one of 30 activities at 20 different sites around the Valley,” said Amy Gottry, Regional Manager of Professional Development for Great Hearts Academies. Gottry was responsible for organizing this massive event. “This is a unique development event in that its focus is not on teaching but on the teacher,” said Gottry. “We love conversation and community, not only among our students but among our faculty and staff. This in-service time gives teachers an opportunity to choose an activity – from a seminar to a museum to a nature hike – where they can learn or experience something new, together.”

Faculty Seminar

The activities and opportunities offered during the Spring In-Service included:

  • Staff were invited to discuss select literary works at Seminars at Trivium, Lincoln, North Phoenix, and Maryvale with a special extended Seminar on the Bill of Rights with special guest, Dr. Adam Seagrave at the Phoenix Home Office
  • Sports and game offerings included Dodgeball, Ultimate Frisbee, Spikeball, Basketball, and Yoga
  • Guided museum tours were offered at the Commemorative Air Force Museum, the Museum of Natural History, the Musical Instrument Museum, the Phoenix Art Museum, the Scottsdale Museum of Art, and a State Capitol Tour
  • Those looking for an outdoor option received guided garden tours of the Desert Botanical Garden, the Herpetological Sanctuary, the Japanese Friendship Garden, or a wildlife tour at the Phoenix Zoo
  • A special concert by the Mill Ave Chamber Players was performed at Maryvale’s Marley Performing Arts Center
  • Some groups took to hiking together at Dreamy Draw, Gilbert Riparian, North Mountain, South Mountain Buena Vista Lookout, and Tres Rios

Faculty at the Zoo

One teacher noted how great it is to interact with other staff from academies throughout the Valley. “It is a rare opportunity that we get to see some of our colleagues from other schools who are all working through the same joys and challenges in their classrooms. It’s great to connect and see how we are a part of something so much bigger than our own classrooms and our own academies,” she said.

Faculty at the state capitol

These days are what makes Great Hearts a unique place for educators seeking employment. It’s a testament to Great Hearts’ commitment to not only advancing the educational journey of its students but also ensuring the holistic development and well-being of its educators. Great Hearts is an institution deeply invested in the professional and personal growth of its faculty, making it an ideal setting for those who prioritize lifelong learning. If you’re interested in applying, you can learn more at

Faculty at an Art Museum

“We learned things about our team that we didn’t previously know, such as life experiences, etc…,” said another teacher. “Which contribute to a comfortable, trusting relationship in the workplace. It was great to spend time with them without the structure of an academic afternoon. It felt like friends spending time together! It just proves that we have a wonderful team in and out of the classroom!”

Faculty playing ultimate frisbee

Gottry shared the following quote with all participants in this leisure learning-focused event from “Stealing Time” by Mary Townsend, assistant professor at St. John’s University, as published by Great Hearts Institute in Virtue, Issue 09.

Faculty Concert“Usually, our minds scrabble desperately for something we think we already understand, or some maxim we can “take away.” This is not learning so much as strip-mining. We must instead seek to imitate the perfect Socratic openness to anything that catches our eye, which can only happen when we have no goal or pre-set end to distract us. The reason why leisure is necessary for learning is that nothing we busily set out to find will be as good as what we stumble into, since otherwise we would already know enough to know.”

Faculty on a hike


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