The Society for Classical Studies is pleased to honor Dr. Brandtly Jones with the 2015 Award for Excellence in Teaching at the Precollegiate Level. After receiving his PhD in Classics from Cornell University in 2008, Dr. Jones began teaching Latin at the St. Anne’s-Belfield School in Charlottesville, Virginia. During his eight years there, Dr. Jones has taken on various leadership positions at his school: he has overseen the Latin programs for grades 7-12, he has mentored two new Latin teachers, and he has assumed the position of Chair of the World Languages Department. While executing these administrative responsibilities, Dr. Jones has led student trips abroad, sponsored the school’s JCL Chapter, undertaken independent studies for promising students, and inspired a love of Classics in his academic community. Not only does he approach all of these activities with equal measures of devotion and intellect, but also he invigorates his curriculum with an array of innovative strategies that make learning Latin in his program both challenging and delightful.
At the heart of Dr. Jones’ courses lies a strong commitment to project based learning, a strategy that is often difficult to implement with true rigor and excellent results, especially at the most advanced levels of language learning. Dr. Jones has developed some of his most imaginative assignments in this area for his AP Latin class. As he himself describes, “Rather than doing a traditional slog line-by-line through the reading list, students are collectively creating a library of the Vergil and Caesar readings as video tutorials, wherein they lead the viewer through their assigned passages explaining grammar, translation, cultural references, as well as rhetorical and metrical devices. Students thus become experts on select portions of the text and provide a valuable study resource for their classmates.” Even more noteworthy is Dr. Jones’ ability to infuse technology into these collaborations. In the AP assignment just described, students post the resulting videos on YouTube so that other AP students can benefit from the presentations and use them as tutorials to prepare for the culminating exam in the course. Other advanced students in Dr. Jones’ program are studying the history of Rome from its foundation through the Augustan Age and using Stephen Saylor’s novel Roma as the basis for their investigation. In addition to more traditional course readings, the students are working on an interactive iBook that serves as a companion to the novel. Because the iBook will be available to the general public through the iTunes stores, Jones has seen his students approach the research and writing assignments with greater attention to detail and accuracy. The commitment to shared knowledge exemplified in these projects is impressive and should serve as a model to all of us as we redesign and reimagine our courses each year.
And so, we honor Dr. Brandtly Jones for his creative pedagogy and leadership at the St. Anne’s-Belfield School.
Joint Committee on Classics in American Education Subcommittee