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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From the Pulitzer website:

The 2012 Pulitzer Prize Winners

General Nonfiction

For a distinguished and appropriately documented book of nonfiction by an American author that is not eligible for consideration in any other category, Ten thousand dollars ($10,000).

Awarded to "The Swerve: How the World Became Modern," by Stephen Greenblatt (W.W. Norton and Company), a provocative book arguing that an obscure work of philosophy, discovered nearly 600 years ago, changed the course of history by anticipating the science and sensibilities of today.

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Tue, 04/17/2012 - 1:36am by Information Architect.

Instructions for the submission of individual abstracts to the APA Program Committee for review at its meeting in June will be posted here by April 17.  The deadline for submission of individual abstracts will be May 16, 2012, at 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Tue, 04/10/2012 - 2:51pm by Adam Blistein.

From the JournalStar.com:

Tom Winter finished a lecture on passive and past-tense Latin verbs on Thursday, pulled his skateboard from the desk and rolled into a cool spring afternoon.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln classics and religious studies professor became an Internet sensation Wednesday when a photo of him skateboarding across campus became the top item on the social news website Reddit.com. The photo inspired dozens of memes -- photos with humorous text superimposed.

"Nine pages of memes and a site I never knew about before yesterday," Winter said. "It's a pretty good photo."

By Thursday afternoon, the photo had gotten more than 756,000 views on Imgur.com, the Internet image hosting site on which it originally appeared, and 1,300 comments on Reddit.com. Users of Imgur.com wrote mock captions for the image, which features a skateboarding Winter, arms out and holding a briefcase.

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Fri, 04/06/2012 - 1:22pm by Information Architect.

In September 2009, the Vice President for Professional Matters, Professor James May, received from a member of the APA, Professor Jenny S. Clay, a complaint that her work and that of others had been plagiarized by Mr. Stephen Evans in his doctoral dissertation, Hymn and Epic: A Study of their Interplay in Homer and the Homeric hymns, which was published by the University of Turku in Finland as volume 244 of the Humaniora series of the Annales Universitatis Turkuensis in 2001.

The APA Statement on Ethics provides that:

The most fundamental ethical obligation of any scholar is to give full and proper credit to all sources involved in research, whether these sources be the published work of other scholars or the unpublished work of students or colleagues. Material taken verbatim from another person’s published or unpublished work must be explicitly identified with reference to its author. Borrowed ideas or data, even if not directly quoted, must be explicitly acknowledged. Revised reprints and translations of earlier work should be identified as such.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Tue, 03/27/2012 - 9:33pm by Adam Blistein.

The Classical Reception Studies Network was formed in early 2004 as a collaboration between six universities with research specialisms in various aspects of Classical Reception Studies. The aims of the Network include the promotion of rigorous debate about all aspects of classical reception studies and the development of seminars and workshops to encourage the exchange of expertise and growth of collaborative projects (including the supervision of graduate students). Data is being collected on the research and teaching currently undertaken in Classical departments in the UK and the Republic of Ireland. Collection of information about classical reception studies in other Arts and Humanities departments will follow and it is intended to extend the survey to international contacts. Data collected to date is now available as a searchable online database. The web site also provides links to research and teaching resources.

View full article. | Posted in Websites and Resources on Thu, 03/22/2012 - 3:20pm by .

From The Telegraph online:

After 244 years, the printed version of the Encyclopaedia Britannica has died a death, killed off by Google and Wikipedia. It’s sad to say goodbye to any venerable institution that’s lasted almost a quarter of a millennium but, still, the writing’s been on the wall for the encyclopaedia for several years now. And now the writing’s on the screen only – the great general knowledge reference work will live on in a digital format.

The idea of printing a sort of omnium gatherum – a collection of everything of any interest – seems ludicrous these days, as well as impossible, when the job is done so much better by a tiny laptop, thinner than a single volume of Britannica. What chance then for two new mammoth publications, out this week – the fourth edition of the Oxford Classical Dictionary (OCD), 1,680 pages long, costing £100; and the second edition of the Oxford Latin Dictionary, with 2,344 pages, going for £275.

View full article. | Posted in Book Reviews on Mon, 03/19/2012 - 12:34pm by Information Architect.

Dear fellow APA members,

Hadrian's Villa, the UNESCO World Heritage Site near Tivoli, is at risk. The City of Rome is under orders from the EU to close its biggest garbage dump at a place called Malagrotta. Since fall of 2011 the government has been looking for a new site to replace Malagrotta. Unbelievable as it may sound, the locality chosen is Corcolle, which is located at the doorstep of Hadrian's Villa.

As might be expected, the recommendation to use Corcolle has encountered stiff opposition. The City of Tivoli, the Ministry of Culture, and the Province of Rome have all gone on record with objections. Many civic groups and Italian citizens have also protested this irresponsible scheme. On February 26, 2012, an international petition was launched on the iPetitions website. In just over two weeks, we have collected more than 3,300 signatures. A list of cultural leaders and professors of classics, archaeology, and cultural heritage who have already signed can be seen on the website.

I write to urge all APA members to sign the petition now, before it is too late. Join people from all walks of life and from all four corners of the earth who have banded together to protest this unconscionable plan.

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Sun, 03/18/2012 - 1:21am by Information Architect.

Jeffrey Beneker recently received a Distinguished Teaching Award at the University of Wisconsin. Read about it in the University of Wisconsin-Madison News.

View full article. | Posted in Member News on Wed, 03/14/2012 - 1:32pm by .

The APA is a member of the National Humanities Alliance (NHA), a consortium of organizations concerned about funding and policies that affect the humanities in the United States.   The NHA has sent us the following message about a "Dear Colleague" letter being circulated in the U. S. House of Representatives urging appropriators there to support President Obama's request for a slight increase in the Endowment's budget for the next fiscal year.  If possible, please get in touch with your Representative by this Friday, March 16 to urge him or her to support this funding for the NEH.

Adam D. Blistein
Executive Director

--------------------

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Mon, 03/12/2012 - 5:37pm by Adam Blistein.

Our tireless Gateway Campaign Committee is leading the APA down the home stretch as we approach our July 31st deadline for completing our NEH Challenge Grant match.  Nearly 1,000 APA members and others devoted to classical antiquity have contributed to the Gateway Campaign to date.  We have a total of $2.2 million and the Endowment for Classics Research and Teaching has become a reality.  We need another $400,000 if we are to keep every NEH dollar in the Endowment working to provide sophisticated and accessible tools for Classics scholars, develop future generations of inspired and diverse Classics teachers, and make high quality information about Classics available to the largest possible audience both inside and outside the scholarly community.  Visit the Campaign News section of the APA web site for the most up-to-date information and learn how you can help us to fill our Campaign amphora.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Fri, 03/09/2012 - 6:23pm by Adam Blistein.

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