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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Teaching Rome at Home:  The Classics in America
A conference at the University of Maryland, College Park
May 2-4, 2019

Thursday, May 2

3:30 PM  Keynote lecture:  “The Lion in the Path:  Classics Meets Modernity”
Hunter R. Rawlings III, Professor and University President Emeritus, Cornell University

5:00 PM  Reception

Friday, May 3

1:00 – 1:50  “The ‘Gender Turn’ in Classics,” Eva Stehle, University of Maryland, Emerita

1:50 – 2:00  Break

2:00 – 3:30  Paper session

2:00  “The Value of Latin in the Liberal Arts Curriculum,” Norman Austin, University of Arizona, Emeritus

2:30  “Vergil’s Aeneid and Twenty-first Century Immigration,” Christopher Nappa, University of Minnesota

3:00  “A Latin Curriculum Set in Africa Proconsularis,” Holly Sypniewski, Millsaps College, Jackson, Mississippi; Kenneth Morrell, Rhodes College, Memphis, Tennessee; and Lindsay Samson, Spelman College, Atlanta, Georgia

3:30 – 4:00  Break

4:00 – 5:00  Workshop:  “Confronting Sexual Violence in the Secondary Latin Classroom,” Danielle Bostick, John Handley High School, Winchester, Virginia

5:00  Reception

Saturday, May 4

10:00 - 12:00  Paper session

View full article. | Posted in Conferences, Lectures, and Meetings on Fri, 04/05/2019 - 9:15am by Erik Shell.

A Day in the Life of A Classicist is a monthly column on the SCS blog, celebrating the working lives of classicists. This month, we look at the life of Classics graduate student Jordan Johansen.  

I typically wake up early, around 5:30 am. I never considered myself a morning person until I got to graduate school, but I got in the habit from taking Greek & Latin survey classes. I found that I couldn’t read Greek and Latin as clearly, efficiently, or quickly late at night, so I started working in the morning. Now that I’m done with surveys, I’ve kept up with the habit. I like that I can get a lot done before I start my day on campus. There are also usually not very many emails coming in that early, so it’s easier to keep from being distracted.

View full article. | Posted in on Thu, 04/04/2019 - 5:04pm by Jordan Johansen.
NEH Logo

April, 2019

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

  • Brenda Longfellow (University of Iowa) - "Women in Public in Ancient Pompeii"
  • Mont Allen (Southern Illinois University) - "Ancient Practices: An Interdisciplinary Minor"
  • Peter Meineck (Aquila Theatre Company Inc.) - "The Warrior Chorus: American Odyssey"
  • Alex Gottesman (Temple University) - "Freedom of Speech in Ancient Athens"
  • Danielle St. Hilaire (Duquesne University) - "The Art of Compassion: Aesthetics, Ethics, and Pity in Early Modern English Literature"
  • Michelle McMahon (American Research Center in Egypt) - "Sharing 7,000 Years of Egyptian Culture with the American Research Center in Egypt's Open Access Conservation Archive"
  • Laura McClure (University of Wisconsin, Madison) - "Reimagining the Chorus: Modern American Poety Hilda Doolittle (known as H.D.) and Greek Tragedy"

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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 Thu, 04/04/2019 - 10:52am by Erik Shell.

CFP: 2019 SAGP Annual Meeting

November 16-17, 2019
Christopher Newport University, Newport News, VA
 
Panel Proposal Deadline: May 1
Paper Abstract Deadline: June 1
Submit abstracts and proposals to apreus@binghamton.edu.

All participants must be members of the SAGP. To become a member, fill out the form linked to here and mail it to A. Preus, SAGP Philosophy, Binghamton University, 13902-6000. 

Paper Abstracts

We invite people to submit abstracts on any topic in ancient Greek philosophy, broadly construed. For example:

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Tue, 04/02/2019 - 1:50pm by Erik Shell.

On March 15, the Aquila Theatre, in collaboration with SCS and the Onassis Foundation USA, produced a staged reading at BAM of Emily Wilson's translation of the Odyssey. You can read more about the staged reading here.

Congratulations to Aquila on its recently announced NEH grant of $250,000 for The Warrior Chorus: An American Odyssey.  This program will train veterans and scholars in three regional centers across the US to lead audience forums, workshops, and reading groups connected with a staging of Emily Wilson's translation of the Odyssey.

Photo Credit: Odysseus (James Edward Becton) and Penelope (Karen Alvarado), photo by Dan Gorman, 2019, copyright Frago Media LLC

View full article. | Posted in Performances on Tue, 04/02/2019 - 11:20am by Helen Cullyer.
Call For Papers:
“Far from Godliness”: Pollution in the Ancient World
Biennial Classics Graduate Student Conference
 
New York University
November 7-8, 2019

Keynotes: Andrej Petrovic (University of Virginia) and Hunter Gardner (University of South Carolina)

Pollution of many forms was a grave concern in the ancient world. In defining pollution, we take as our starting point Mary Douglas’ conception of pollution as a culturally defined phenomenon involving disorder, taboo, and the “improper” (Purity and Danger, 1966). However, while Douglas’ theoretical framework is a useful heuristic tool for instances of miasmic pollution, our conference is also concerned with the physical contamination of the environment through human activity, especially given its contemporary cultural relevance. Thus, we define pollution as any activity which corrupts or defiles on physical, moral, environmental, and even material levels.

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Mon, 04/01/2019 - 3:22pm by Erik Shell.

With the generous support of the foundation Patrum Lumen Sustine (PLuS) the Department of Ancient Civilizations of the University of Basel and the Société Internationale des Amis de Cicéron (SIAC) are jointly organising the international conference

Cicero in Basel. Reception Histories from a Humanist City
Basel, 3–5 October 2019

The conference Cicero in Basel aims at charting the presence of the statesman, orator, and philosopher M. Tullius Cicero in the cultural history of Basel, the city located in the border region between Switzer­land, Germany and France. While the study of Classical receptions tends to focus on particular cultural forms and discourses, the scope of the planned conference is programmatically open. Cicero in Basel ex­plores a broad spectrum of engagements with Cicero through the ages: from the manuscript tradition of his works, to Humanist editions and commentaries, up to the political debates and con­tro­versies of today. In this, Cicero in Basel will assess Cicero’s impact on the formation of a specific idea of Humanism in Basel as well as Basel’s role in Cicero’s Nachleben.

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Mon, 04/01/2019 - 9:18am by Erik Shell.
Feminism & Classics 2020: body/language
 
FemClas 2020, the eighth quadrennial conference of its kind, takes place on May 21–24, 2020, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, at the invitation of the Wake Forest University Department of Classics and Department of Philosophy.  The conference theme is "body/language," broadly construed, and papers on all topics related to feminism, Classics, Philosophy, and related themes are welcome.
 
View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Mon, 04/01/2019 - 8:33am by Erik Shell.

The deadline for submission of the following is 11.59pm EDT, April 8:

  • Panel, seminar, workshop, and roundtable proposals for the 2020 Annual Meeting
  • Affiliated group and organizer-refereed panel reports for the 2020 Annual Meeting
  • Applications for renewed or new charters for affiliated groups
  • Applications for organizer-refereed panels for the 2021 Annual Meeting

The deadline for submission of individual abstracts for paper and poster presentations and of short abstracts for lightning talks is 11.59pm EDT, April 15.

Please submit everything via our online Program Submission System.

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(Photo: "_DSC7061" by rhodesj, licensed under CC BY 2.0)

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Sun, 03/31/2019 - 6:05pm by Helen Cullyer.
ISAW
There will be a special guided tour of the new ISAW exhibition in New York exploring the influence of antiquity on early 20th century dance titled “Hymn to Apollo: The Ancient World and the Ballets Russes” on April 11 at 4.30pm at ISAW (15 E. 84th St.). The tour is free for SCS members but space in the galleries is limited, so please sign up for the tour here.
 
View full article. | Posted in Conferences, Lectures, and Meetings on Fri, 03/29/2019 - 9:31am by Erik Shell.

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