The Joint APA-ACL Committee on Classics in American Education is pleased to announce that one of the two winners of the 2012 American Philological Association Precollegiate Teaching Award is Lee T. Pearcy. Dr. Pearcy earned his B.A. and M.A. degrees from Columbia University and his Ph.D. from Bryn Mawr College. While still at Columbia, Dr. Pearcy got his first brief taste of secondary school teaching at The Englewood School for Boys in New Jersey. There he learned under a wise mentor that good teaching is not just about knowledge of subject matter, but also about connecting with students. After a number of years teaching at the college level, Dr. Pearcy returned to pre-collegiate teaching in 1985, taking up a position at The Episcopal Academy, formerly in Merion and now in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania. Dr. Pearcy has a remarkable range ofaccomplishments to his record. He has published an important book, The Grammar of Our Civility: Classical Education in America, described by one reviewer as “meticulously researched and eloquently written,” as well as numerous articles and reviews. He has also carried out extensive service to the profession, most recently as APA Vice President for Education and co-leader of the team that wrote the new APA-ACL Standards for Latin Teacher Preparation. As we advise our students about possible career paths within classics, Dr. Pearcy is a model of the pre-collegiate teacher who, as an active scholar and involved member of the profession, brings a unique talent and perspective to his primary job as a teacher of classics to young people.
At The Episcopal Academy, Dr. Pearcy has held the positions of Chair of Classics, Director of Curriculum for the school, and Lounsbery Master in Classics. As both a middle school and upper school teacher, Pearcy has remained involved in all levels of classical language instruction. From his eighth grade house plan project based on readings from Vitruvius to his plans for AP Latin, Pearcy shows attention to the variety of ways to engage students. In the words of one: “My fondest memory of Latin class with Dr. Pearcy is his demonstration of Ariadne waking up in the morning after Theseus’ secret departure. Upon learning that most of us did not know the meaning of the English word ‘supine,’ he proceeded to lie down on the table and act it out for us, perfectly demonstrating Ariadne’s distress and of course the meaning of ‘semisupina.’ I am certain that I will never forget the definition now.” A former student, who now teaches middle school Latin, describes him as her “mentor and inspiration” for the last twenty years. Colleagues, as well, see him in this role. Dr. Pearcy’s nominator writes: “When a student or colleague brings a problem to him, he guides them in such a way that they leave feeling as though they have discovered the solution on their own. He is a calming and authoritative presence, one who remains unflappable no matter the situation. He has been known to quip to faculty members struggling with particularly troublesome students: You must neither like nor dislike your students, but you must love them all.”
In his time at The Episcopal Academy, Dr. Pearcy increased the size of the classics faculty, made Greek a regular part of the curriculum, and led his department in the writing of a Latin textbook series. It is not surprising to hear his “generosity of spirit” singled out by a student, for it is the humanizing potential of teaching and learning and of reading and studying literature that have been at the core of Dr. Pearcy’s professional passion and success. We are delighted to recognize Dr. Pearcy with a 2012 APA Pre-Collegiate Teaching Award for his distinguished career teaching at the precollegiate level.
JCCAE Subcommittee on the Precollegiate Teaching Award