2018 Precollegiate Teaching Award Winners

The Society is delighted to announce this year's winners of the awards for Excellence in the Teaching of Classics at the Precollegiate Level.  We congratulate Susan Meyer and Thomas J. (TJ) Howell, who will both receive their awards at the Plenary Session in San Diego. You can read their citations below:

Thomas J. Howell Citation

Thomas J. Howell likes to describe his vision of teaching as “one that marries innovative language pedagogy to deep exploration of topics in an environment where language and humanistic study is welcomed and supported.” Currently at Northampton High School, Massachusetts, Thomas or “TJ”, as his students know him, has taught Latin at the secondary level since 2000. He has developed a highly creative approach to Latin instruction within a four-skills framework. His students are drawn in through “compelling, high-quality, culturally relevant comprehensible input texts”, from Harrius Potter and the incomparable Commentarii de inepto puero (anglice: Diary of a Wimpy Kid) to the Bayeux Tapestry and Catullus. As he likes to tell them, “Latin isn’t a puzzle to be decoded – it’s a language that can be read and understood without translation just like any other.” One of his novel approaches is to adopt hand signs from an instructional system designed to create new speakers for languages on the brink of extinction called “Where are your Keys” (WAYK). These allow students to express stress levels and comprehension, and thus help TJ “address their immediate emotional or intellectual needs without stopping class or drawing undue attention to themselves”. One of his favorite techniques is “Full Check,” where students can communicate to their readiness to acquire language. TJ explains, “If everyone is ‘full’ - perhaps they’re tired, or they’ve had a bad day, or they’re hungry - I’ll change my focus to review already familiar material or tell a myth or a fable”.

WAYK is an oral method and TJ takes presentational speaking, in the new Classical Language Learning Standards, very seriously. Beyond his own classroom, he has taught at the SALVI Rusticatio and Conventiculum Bostoniense for the last several summers, and recently started with the Biduum Minnesotanum. He is an inspiring example to his students. As one of his writers described it, “His command of the Latin language is impeccable and the breadth of his familiarity with Latin texts is simply stunning.” His students respond with enthusiasm. Another writer notes: “The walls of his classroom are decorated with narratives, paintings, projects, and other evidence of student enthusiasm for the subject and competence in the language, and I have seen students participate in a range of activities that indicate the considerable depth and breadth of TJ’s commitment to effective pedagogy”. TJ works hard to foster a sense of belonging. He throws all-student  banquets  to  celebrate  National  Latin  Exam  winners and creates projects that bring students together across levels, as when his Latin 2 class did a unit on oracles and the future tense and his level 5s wrote ambiguous answers to their questions. It is no surprise that students want to continue their Latin with TJ. As the teacher of middle school that feeds Northampton High writes, “since he began teaching in Northampton this fall, every parent and student who visits me has told me the same thing: they are loving Latin. They seem to be too busy getting caught up in real communication in the classroom to notice how hard they’re working and how much they’re improving”.

TJ has worked tirelessly to promote the Classics. In partnership with UMass-Boston, he has developed a dual enrollment program for Northampton and contributed significantly to the UMass teacher training program, mentoring no less than fourteen student teachers in their practicums while offering regular SLA workshops to their incoming students. He has contributed professional service all levels, serving as President of the Classical Association of Massachusetts, as CANE blog editor and board member, and as a member of the recent ACTFL committee to reconsider the new Standards for Classical Language Learning. Memorably described as “a master  teacher  and  a  consummate  professional”, TJ richly deserves a 2018 SCS Award for Excellence in Teaching at the Precollegiate Level.

Susan Meyer Citation

Susan “Magistra” Meyer has taught in Culbreth Middle School, Chapel Hill, since 2010. Her nominator’s words testify vividly to her talents: “Susan is a genius at what she does. If there were a MacArthur Award that accommodated Middle School teachers, I would nominate her for that.” As a more modest prize, the SCS is delighted to recognize Susan with an Excellence in Precollegiate Teaching Award.

The first of the many innovations Susan’s students and colleagues praise is a system she designed to encourage learning for its own sake and foster an inclusive, collaborative community. Fans of Harry Potter will recall the “House System” at Hogwarts. Magistra Susan took the concept of a ‘Latin family’ and created a ‘gens system’ that would randomly sort students into one of four Roman families (Claudians, Julians, Flavians, and Cornelians). Students earn famae or reputation points for their gens for positivity, personal growth, and the pursuit of academic opportunities. They might play Susan’s course on Memrise, a digital vocabulary game, on their bus ride home or make military standards, cartoons, stories, or charters for their gentes in Latin, or even come in early to tutor younger gens members. And yes, famae can be taken away for bad deeds, but on the other hand they are awarded generously when students continue to take Latin after middle school. Lavish famae are given to the gens of an alum who takes AP Latin. One million are awarded, if they become a Latin teacher.

Susan is taking retention to a new level. As she explains, her alumni “are active fixtures” in her classroom. As long as a student is the district, they can stay in the digital classroom until 12th grade. Alumni make posts encouraging their younger gens members to turn in missing work or to dress up for the biannual spirit day competition. They submit T-shirt designs with slogans like “The diem ain’t gonna carpe itself”. As a parent notes, “When you enter Ms. Meyer’s class in middle school, you are never her student for just a semester. You are her student for life. You become part of an intergenerational community of students, parents and teachers inspired by Ms. Meyer to love and enjoy learning together”. Susan’s outreach activities foster positive attitudes to Roman culture. Students and alumni flock to her annual study abroad trips. They also take part in community events. As one proud parent notes, “Magistra has recruited an army of nerds who put on togas and march each year in the Chapel Hill/Carrboro Holiday Parade and turn the high school theater into the Underworld on Halloween”. Students submit modern Latin-related items for the classroom “ROMA VIVIT” board or take on the “Passive Voice Challenge,” attempting to use nothing but the passive for an entire school day. They create “Wonderful Verba” etymology videos (for those who miss middle school humor, the video on “incendiarism” is must see) or they read articles on her Classical Tumblr page, amoRoma. A parent explains that “Magistra is completely fluent in the language, social media, and pop culture of her students”, and a ninth grade alumna may best encapsulate the experience of Susan’s classes: “I loved how she taught in such detail that after her class even after I left the school I still think on a regular bases about word origin and how language works. Magistra's class was not only a Latin class but a life class.”

This hasn’t come easy. Susan inherited a weak program, which she has grown from a couple of classes of two and nine students respectively to five full classes at an average of twenty to twenty-five students. Her program flourishes with a diverse population. As a former teacher writes, “Ms. Meyer’s students reflect the diversity of North Carolina public schools. Her students are black, brown and white and from a wide range of economic strata. Her classroom is a haven where they learn and thrive with students across grades, schools and various other social divides. Susan has long sought to “be the teacher that I needed when I was a kid” and has succeeded brilliantly. In the words of a parent, “Magistra Meyer was born to teach middle school Latin.”

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Session Recordings Available

All sessions that gave unanimous consent for post-conference publication have been made available on the OpenWater annual meeting platform.

You can access these recordings by logging in the same way you logged in for the annual meeting, navigating to the paper session you want to see, and watching the recording streamed on the registration site itself.

You can find a list of available recordings below. All those not listed did not give consent for their sessions to be published.

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Tuesday, January 5

  • SCS 1- Merchants and Market in Late Antiquity
  • SCS 6- New Approaches to Spectatorship
  • SCS 10- Roman Comedy

 Wednesday, January 6

  • SCS 15-Staging Epic and Tragedy
  • SCS 16- Virgil and Religion
  • SCS 17-Usurpers, Rivals, and Regime Change: The Evidence of Coins
  • SCS 24- Lightning Session 2: Crossing Boundaries

 Thursday, January 7

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Wed, 01/20/2021 - 12:48pm by Erik Shell.
57th Presidential Inauguration, 21 January 2013. View of the U.S. Capitol building from the crowd, with people waving flags.

Were Joe Biden ascending to the chief executive office in Ancient Rome — as one of the year’s two elected consuls — he would start his inauguration day with augury—that is, by taking the auspices. It would, first of all, be January 1, rather than the 20th; according to a surviving Roman calendar, in fact, the state’s year began then “because on that day magistrates enter office” (Fasti Praenestini, Jan. 1). That morning, Biden would look to the sky and request a sign from the gods. If Jupiter announced his favor — a lightning flash on the left was the best omen for this occasion—then the installation could proceed.

View full article. | Posted in on Wed, 01/20/2021 - 9:44am by .

The Society for Classical Studies is delighted to announce that the TAPA Editor Search Committee has selected Joshua Billings and Irene Peirano Garrison as the new co-editors of TAPA. This is the first time in its history that TAPA will be led by two co-editors. Professors Billings and Peirano Garrison will cover TAPA volumes 152-155 (2022-2025).

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Wed, 01/20/2021 - 8:38am by Helen Cullyer.

On December 21, 2020, which now seems like eons ago, Donald Trump issued the “Executive Order on Promoting Beautiful Federal Civic Architecture” (EOPBFCA). This understandably has been overshadowed in recent days by discussions of the Executive Order on Promoting Besiegement of Federal Civic Architecture (also EOPBFCA). Nevertheless, we should not forget to examine the original document (which, in draft form, was opposed by the SCS Board in February 2020), especially since the two occurrences are closely related — and not only in the sense that the latter action seems in direct violation of the first. The two are actually intellectual cousins.

The “Purpose” section sets the tone for all that follows:

View full article. | Posted in on Fri, 01/15/2021 - 9:21am by .

Against the backdrop of the United States’ first non-peaceful transition of power, there is a much smaller-scale — and much more peaceful — transition happening: the changeover of the SCS Communications Committee chair and SCS blog Editor-in-Chief. Sarah Bond, after three years of visionary leadership and fantastic direction of the blog, has handed the reins over to me, as a veteran Committee member. I think I speak for the Committee and for the blog’s readership when I offer Sarah my profoundest gratitude and appreciation for her awe-inspiring work during her term. I’ll be standing on the shoulders and following in the footsteps of a giant.

View full article. | Posted in on Tue, 01/12/2021 - 7:47am by T. H. M. Gellar-Goad.

Stavros Niarchos Foundation Centre for Hellenic Studies Postdoctoral Fellowship September 2021 – August 2022

For the third year in a row, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Centre for Hellenic Studies (SNF CHS) at Simon Fraser University invites applications for a one-year Postdoctoral Fellowship focused on Hellenisms Past and Present, Local and Global. Our search committee welcomes applications that span disciplinary boundaries from candidates working on comparative approaches to the advertised fellowship theme. Applicants from all fields of the humanities and the social sciences are encouraged to apply.

View full article. | Posted in Awards and Fellowships on Mon, 01/11/2021 - 3:02pm by Erik Shell.

34th Biennial Conference of the Classical Association of South Africa

Order and Chaos

19 – 22 January 2022

University of Cape Town

FIRST CALL FOR PAPERS

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Mon, 01/11/2021 - 2:57pm by Erik Shell.

The Ausonius Institute (CNRS – Université Bordeaux Montaigne), under the patronage of the  Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres (AIBL, Paris), the International Association of Greek and Latin Epigraphy (AIEGL) and the Société Française d'études épigraphiques sur Rome et le monde romain is pleased to invite you to the 16th International Congress of Greek and Latin Epigraphy, which will take place in Bordeaux  from August 29 to September 2, 2022.

The aim of the conference is to reflect on the situation of epigraphy and the role of the epigrapher in the 21st century. The congress will, therefore, be organized around thematic, chronological or geographical reports, which will allow us to assess advances in our knowledge with regards to methodological, technical or ethical issues that occur in contemporary epigraphic studies. Particular attention will be paid to new epigraphic perspectives made possible by the development of digital humanities.

You can find more information on the conference website here: https://ciegl2022.sciencesconf.org/

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Mon, 12/28/2020 - 12:03pm by Erik Shell.
NEH Logo

December, 2020

Below is a list of the most recent NEH grantees and their Classically-themed projects. The NEH helps fund a number of SCS initiatives, and their support affects the field of Classics at a national and local level.

Grantees

  • Mark Fisher (Georgetown University) - "Thucydides and the Heroic Democracy"
  • Sinclair Bell (Northern Illinois University) - "Research and Preparation of a Book on the Representation of Africans in Ancient Roman Art"
  • William Seales (University of Kentucky Research Foundation) - "The Digital Restoration Initiative: A Cultural Heritage Imaging and Analysis LabSo"
  • Melissa Mueller (University of Massachusetts, Amherst) - "Sappho and Homer: A Reparative Reading"

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(Photo: "Logo of the United States National Endowment for the Humanities" by National Endowment for the Humanities, public domain, edited to fit thumbnail template)

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Mon, 12/28/2020 - 12:01pm by Erik Shell.

The Presidential Panel at the 2021 Annual Meeting will be held on Friday January 8, 5:30-7:30pm CST. Registered attendees can access the panel via the virtual annual meeting platform.

This panel responds to a shameful episode in the history of American classics: in 1909, the distinguished Black classicist and President of Wilberforce University, William Sanders Scarborough (1852-1926), chose not to attend the annual meeting of the American Philological Association (now the SCS) in Baltimore because the hotel where the conference banquet was to be held refused to serve him.  The speakers will contextualize Scarborough’s exclusion from the annual meeting within the history of Baltimore as well as the profession of Classical Studies and will address the aspirations and achievements of Scarborough himself and of the many Black writers and scholars of his period who engaged with classical antiquity, a rich legacy from which we have much to learn as we strive to make our profession truly inclusive and anti-racist.

1. Michele Valerie Ronnick (Wayne State University): "A Portrait of William Sanders Scarborough in 1909"

2. Andre Davis (University of Maryland Carey School of Law): "Ruminations on Place, Privilege, and Prejudice: Baltimore at the Dawn of the Twentieth Century"

View full article. | Posted in Presidential Letters on Tue, 12/22/2020 - 8:41pm by Helen Cullyer.

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