This month we're proud to announce the winners of the Precollegiate Teaching award and College Teaching award. You can navigate to the citations below:
Precollegiate Teaching Award
College Teaching Award
Precollegiate Teaching Award
The Committee is delighted to bestow the SCS Award for Excellence in Teaching at the Precollegiate Level on William Lee.
Since 2003 Mr. Lee has taught at Tom C. Clark High School, in San Antonio, where he has grown the program from a half-time teacher with fewer than 100 students to two full-time teachers of over 300 students in one of the largest Latin programs in Texas. His current and former students are effusive in their praise of his technologically innovative class activities as well as his dedication to rigorous Latin exercises while still making sure every student feels like they belong. A recurrent theme of letters on his behalf is the “family-like” atmosphere and “friendship” Mr. Lee cultivates in Latin classes and in the Latin club. In a school with a large and diverse student body in San Antonio, Mr. Lee creates a space where Latin speaks to everyone and everyone has a place.
Mr. Lee is well-known for his work at the state and national levels of the Junior Classical League, serving as NJCL Certamen Chair and Communications Chair for lengthy tenures, and as State Co-Chair of the TSJCL continually since 2006. His students regularly bring home top regional, state, and national awards. And under his patient, but firm guidance, all the certamen teams representing Texas since 2000 have finished in the top six places, with four National Championships. His students speak of the camaraderie they develop working together for competitions and how it is the friendship and fun rather than the winning that is most important to them and to Mr. Lee. In the course of listing numerous awards and honors, his Principal states “[a]lthough Mr. Lee… has been very successful, he will tell you the greatest accomplishment is the success of his students.”
His colleagues speak in glowing terms of his dedication to his students, to helping them discover the relevance of Latin that is alive all around them. “[H]e is dedicated to eradicating routine and mediocre education from the public school system,” says one colleague. And he shares his expertise and creative ideas with his peers, giving pedagogy presentations regularly at Texas Classical Association and ACL meetings on the creative use of technology to engage students and energize their learning. He also brings back new lessons learned to his colleagues in San Antonio. As his recommender states, Mr. Lee ensures “that the nation’s best practices make it into our classrooms,” adding that he is “a generous mentor to Latin teachers throughout the city and state.” Mr. Lee conducts in-service workshops for teachers in Texas, and regularly conducts workshops for the North American Cambridge Classics Project, on whose Board of Regents he has served since 2004.
Mr. Lee’s success is legendary. Students call him “amazing,” “incredible,” “a constant inspiration,” and “practically mythical.” We are honored to recognize our colleague for this success, for his mentoring of both students and fellow teachers, for his active promotion of the classics at all levels across the country, and for his outstanding teaching in the classroom. We proudly present the SCS Award for Excellence in Teaching at the Pre-Collegiate Level to the “practically mythical” William Lee
For the past nineteen years, Charlaine Denise Lunsford has taught all levels of Latin, beginning through AP, at Woodrow Wilson High School in Portsmouth, VA. Charlaine believes that everyone should “have a right to a quality education from talented and compassionate teachers who will work hard to make sure that every child succeeds”. Her letters of support reveal that she is an expert at differentiated instruction in the Latin classroom, combining both traditional and cutting-edge approaches to accommodate the wide variety of learning styles she sees everyday. Her principal notes that she “exemplifies initiative and creativity in her classroom”.
In a school where 65% of students qualify for free or reduced lunch and many receive special education or have 504 plans, Charlaine focuses on figuring out “what strategies work best” for each student and treating everyone with respect and dignity. As she notes, “Even when I have a student who has a behavior problem, I try my best to find a way to connect with the student and show him/her the value of studying another language and learning about a different culture”. Charlaine is an innovator in the use of technology – from YouTube for videos on anything from Latin grammar to discuss through, Kahoot for quiz review, Flipgrid for speaking practice, Quizlet for vocabulary review, Magistrula.com for forms review (and fun), Google classroom, BenQ smartboards and Chromebooks. Believing that a good teacher should be “knowledgeable of the subject matter and a life-long learner” she has attended multiple Latin Immersion Workshops, an NEH summer seminar in Roman Daily Life, and learned enough Greek and Arabic to conduct a mini-lessons in each.
Through her hard work and dedication, Latin at Woodrow Wilson is thriving: Charlaine herself teaches Latin to 150-200 students every year and the school has even added a second Latin teacher to meet the demand for learning the language. One student fondly notes how she encourged “passion about the Latin language and classical studies outside the classroom” and singles out class field trips to the Chrysler Museum of Art Roman collection (in Norfolk) and annual Latin Day. Charlaine organized many such trips: to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, for movie screenings, and even to Greek restaurants.
Charlaine is an educational leader in her community: she has served as a mentor to new teachers, participated in committees to increase graduation rates, led technology workshops, developed new and innovative curricula, and been a long-standing leader in the Tidewater Classical Symposium, as well as the Classical Association of Virginia, whose web site she maintains. It is with great pleasure that our committee awards Charlaine Lunsford the 2019 award for excellence in pre-collegiate teaching.
Amy Sommer Rosevear has been teaching at Cherry Creek High School in Greenwood Village, Colorado, since 2004, when she completed her MA in Teaching Latin at the University of Colorado. In the intervening years she has expanded and strengthened her Latin program, and served her school for seven years as chair of her school’s Foreign Language Department (with twenty-two faculty members teaching a total of five languages), and more recently as became World Languages Coordinator for her school district. Amy sponsors the school’s JCL chapter and the Latin Club; when she took students to Italy in Spring 2019, it was the first such trip by a Colorado public school after post-9/11 restrictions were lifted.
Her professional service extends to the state level (Colorado Classical Association and Colorado JCL) and even farther, to the National Latin Exam, the National Committee for Latin and Greek, and particularly to the ACL, where she is currently a member of the Board of Governors.
In the classroom, Amy notes that her teaching methods are “continually evolving, and [her] current approach to pedagogy is nothing if not eclectic.” While preparing her students to succeed on the rigorous Advanced Placement exam, which requires not only understanding of the text but also an explicit understanding of grammar, she employs strategies that focus on reading and incorporate principles of Comprehensible Input. Taking the new Standards for Classical Learning seriously, Amy has introduced communicative Latin and has participated in SALVI events to increase her own skills.
Amy acknowledges the successes of her students, and puts them in context, writing that “accomplishments like AP Latin exam scores and National Latin Exam awards—which my students and I value, because they reflect and quantify the quality of our Latin program—mean nothing, if my students are not also learning to conduct themselves with integrity, participate eagerly and authentically in a community of learners, and develop curiosity about our world, both ancient and modern.”
She continues describing her goals for her students. “What drives me to do what I do in the classroom every day is the hope that they remember feeling seen, valued, and challenged throughout their high school Latin experience, and that my class prepared them to be dedicated students and engaged, ethical people….My philosophy has remained consistent and compelling: I care deeply about who my students are and who they will become.”
Her students recognize these guiding values. One of them writes that Amy has a “genuine concern for her students’ wellbeing and seeks to know each of her students on a personal level. Her treatment of each student as a valued individual makes Latin class an enjoyable environment. For many students, even if Latin is a challenge for them, they still look forward to coming to class and learning.”
Her colleagues understand the role she plays in the lives of her students, “Amy Rosevear is a wonderful model for them to follow: devoted to learning professionally and dedicated to service personally.”
So do her students, who say, “From her dedication to teaching to her positive impact on so many students, Amy Rosevear is truly an extraordinary Latin teacher.”
Let us applaud this extraordinary Latin teacher.
Citations by the members of the Joint Committee on Classics in American Education
College Teaching Award
Jeanne Neumann has energized the study of Classics at Davidson College for over twenty-five years. Her courses, which have included all levels of Latin and Greek as well as courses in translation and study abroad, consistently challenge students to engage with the ancient world through the lens of their contemporary context. By making the past present she offers her students the opportunity to illuminate their understanding of both worlds, their relationships to one another, and importantly students’ understanding of themselves. Invitations to dive into critical reflection cut across her classes: students in Roman Literature in Translation “confront the problems inherent in Roman literature,” while those in Intermediate Latin deepen their grasp on grammar while discovering its interconnectedness to meaning, and students in Writing 101: Herakles encounter carefully scaffolded writing assignments that challenge them to take intellectual risks. Across campus Dr. Neumann is known for her rigor and her passion, inspiring and motivating her students to discover their potential. As one student writes, “she makes you want to live up to her high expectations.”
Coupled with Dr. Neumann’s impressive record of teaching and mentoring one finds an equally admirable commitment to evidence-based pedagogy and innovation. Successive iterations of each course abound with refinement. At times such changes mark a greater shift, including the adaptation of a new practice and an openness to learning from colleagues across campus and the disciplines. In several courses, for example, Dr. Neumann has adopted specifications grading, emphasizing for students the process and importance of revision and feedback while focusing their attention on learning. This abiding devotion innovative teaching likewise informs much of Dr. Neumann’s scholarly activity. She is well-known for her book Lingua Latina: A College Companion (2008), and articles, workshops, invited lectures, and public outreach events constitute countless lines of her CV, highlighting her dedication to making Latin alive and accessible to as many individuals as possible.
Whether in the classroom, in a Friday afternoon Latin sight-reading group, or in the faculty lounge, Dr. Neumann’s dedication to her students and colleagues also shines. Her focus on and care for the individual, and on what they might do or who they might become – and on how her class might prepare them for all what lies ahead – perhaps best encapsulates Dr. Neumann’s work as an educator. As one of her colleagues remarked, “Among the lessons that linger with me is the fact that teaching Latin (or any of our subjects) is but a small component of the teaching that we do; for many students, the Latin will be the least important of the many ‘lessons’ we teach them during their years with us.”
We are honored to recognize Professor Jeanne Neumann for her outstanding teaching with the SCS’s 2019 Award for Excellence in Teaching of the Classics at the College Level.
Drawn inexorably from her first two degrees in engineering to the light of the Classics, Professor Courtney Roby is well-equipped to create courses that appeal to a wide range of students, and she has done just that with courses like “Popular Science from Antiquity to Today,” “Data Corruption’s Deep History,” and “The Art of Math.” In all of these courses, she seeks to draw the ancient and modern world together, making the Humanities relevant across academic disciplines. While such outreach is crucial to the survival of Classics, it would fall flat without the consummate skill and deep commitment that Professor Roby brings to her classroom and to every student within it.
Her innovative pedagogy is readily apparent in the experiences she creates for her students that include in class activities that promote the participation of all by building their confidence; these include exercises that enhance students’ awareness of their own learning and engage them in projects that resonate with each of them individually. One of her students remarks that she “provided structure and a stable foundation of knowledge, while giving agency to her students to pursue topics of their own interest.” Another says, “She is knowledgeable, understanding, and able to transcend perceived academic boundaries to engage with students from all disciplines.” She also regularly devises hands-on activities through which students can experience technology both ancient and modern, even as they connect it to and analyze it through the society it serves. A student whose courses had been largely technical until he took classes with her deeply appreciated that they “injected some much-needed historical and ethical perspectives into [his] studies.”
Professor Roby’s pedagogy is fueled by her patent determination to enhance and expand her own teaching skills and knowledge. Not only has she taken advantage of a number of workshops on course design, but she has also been deeply involved in the creation of department policies pertaining to learning outcomes and assessment, and she has served as the Classics liaison to the University's Active Learning Initiative. In testament to her commitment to excellence, in 2018 she won the Innovative Teaching and Learning Award from Cornell’s Center for Teaching Innovation. Finally, she is a tireless ambassador for the discipline outside of the classroom as well, getting to know her Classics students as individuals at movie and game nights and bringing her knowledge and enthusiasm to a wider audience in residence halls, where she hosts weekly themed dinners on such topics as “The History of Everything.”
We are honored to recognize Professor Courtney Roby for her outstanding teaching with the SCS’s 2019 Award for Excellence in Teaching of the Classics at the College Level.
Professor Svetla Slaveva-Griffin has leveraged her own interests in ancient philosophy into a boon for both students at Florida State University and for the health of Classics on that campus. Her course on Ancient Science, which remarkably counts as a science credit for the hundreds of students who take it, explores ancient Mediterranean ideas on the natural world, yet employs the pedagogies of a modern science class. Students in the class particularly enjoy recreating the experiments of Greek scientists and their “SciFri” presentations, which actively engage them with their ancient counterparts and teach them skills in critical thinking and writing. They note that they appreciate that they are learning through engagement rather than through memorization. In reviewing the class, many students found themselves surprised by how much they enjoyed and learned from a class that they took only to fulfil a requirement. They credit Professor Slaveva-Griffin’s passion for the material. As one student says “She is there to grasp attention. She wants to pull each student into what she loves the most and I love it.”
Professor Slaveva-Griffin credits her students with inspiring and guiding her teaching. Although she teaches a wide variety of classes, including an online course in medical terminology, and Greek classes at every level, she changes the material she includes to address student interest and to respond to students’ feedback. Even students in her very large classes note how interactive she is with individuals and credit her with encouraging them to learn more and stretch their own abilities. “The confidence Dr. Slaveva-Griffin instills isn't to be understated,” notes a student who took several of her classes. “The reason, I think, that she is able to leave her students feeling ready to tackle any research problem, ready to approach any author, is that she leaves them able to teach themselves.”
Professor Slaveva-Griffin’s teaching has been recognized many times, first when she was a graduate student at the University of Iowa, and repeatedly at Florida State University where she has won an Undergraduate Teaching Award, a Certificate of Distinction in online teaching, and multiple nominations for awards in undergraduate and graduate teaching and advising. For her focus on students’ needs and interests, and for her enthusiastic outreach to students who might never be exposed to classical learning, we join her students and colleagues in honoring the work of Professor Svetla Slaveva-Griffin with the SCS’s 2019 Award for Excellence in Teaching of the Classics at the College Level.
Citations by members of the Teaching Excellence Awards Committee