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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… at the bottom of the third column on page 79 of the May 21, 2012, edition:

DEPT. OF HIGHER EDUCATION

From the Transactions of the American Philological Association

     Valerius's allusive gestures thus problematize Venus's argument by drawing attention to the intertextual connection between Georgics 2.140 and Aeneid 7.281, texts that have very different things to say about the existence of fire-breathing animals in Italy.

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Thu, 05/24/2012 - 2:10am by Information Architect.

Dirk tom Dieck Held, the Elizabeth S. Kruidenier ’48 Professor of Classics at Connecticut College in New London CT, died of a cerebral hemorrhage on March 21, 2012. He took his A.B. and Ph.D in Classics at Brown University.

Joining the faculty of Connecticut College in 1971, he held the Chair of the Classics Department for thirty-two years.  Professor Held presented and/or published over one hundred learned papers on a wide variety of topics.  He was widely known and respected for the quality of his scholarship and his dedication to the field.

Colleague Robert Proctor, Professor of Italian, remarked, “Dirk Held lived the liberal arts ideal. His scholarship was both profound and wide-ranging, from Plato’s understanding of love to Nietzsche and the reception of classical antiquity in the modern world. He was a modern exemplar of ancient Roman humanitas: culture, kindness, generosity, and wit.”

Some of his recent published works include:

View full article. | Posted in In Memoriam on Tue, 05/22/2012 - 12:28pm by Adam Blistein.
I write with disappointing news regarding the effort to prevent a large garbage dump from being sited at Corcolle, near Hadrian's Villa: Giuseppe Pecoraro, the Extraordinary Commissioner of Rubbish for the Regione Lazio, has announced his final decision to recommend going forward with the Corcolle site. The Board of Directors authorized me to write on behalf of the APA to Prime Minister Mario Monti to protest this decision and to find an alternative site.  In this protest we join many other individuals, organizations, and communities in Italy and around the world.
 
View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Tue, 05/22/2012 - 12:19pm by Adam Blistein.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Mon, 05/21/2012 - 3:26pm by Adam Blistein.

From the Associated Press, via Yahoo.com:

For years, Gac Filipaj mopped floors, cleaned toilets and took out trash at Columbia University.

A refugee from war-torn Yugoslavia, he eked out a living working for the Ivy League school. But Sunday was payback time: The 52-year-old janitor donned a cap and gown to graduate with a bachelor's degree in classics.

As a Columbia employee, he didn't have to pay for the classes he took. His favorite subject was the Roman philosopher and statesman Seneca, the janitor said during a break from his work at Lerner Hall, the student union building he cleans.

"I love Seneca's letters because they're written in the spirit in which I was educated in my family — not to look for fame and fortune, but to have a simple, honest, honorable life," he said.

His graduation with honors capped a dozen years of studies, including readings in ancient Latin and Greek.

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Mon, 05/14/2012 - 1:55am by Information Architect.

From the site:

ORBIS: The Stanford Geospatial Network Model of the Roman World reconstructs the time cost and financial expense associated with a wide range of different types of travel in antiquity. The model is based on a simplified version of the giant network of cities, roads, rivers and sea lanes that framed movement across the Roman Empire. It broadly reflects conditions around 200 CE but also covers a few sites and roads created in late antiquity.

The model consists of 751 sites, most of them urban settlements but also including important promontories and mountain passes, and covers close to 10 million square kilometers (~4 million square miles) of terrestrial and maritime space. 268 sites serve as sea ports. The road network encompasses 84,631 kilometers (52,587 miles) of road or desert tracks, complemented by 28,272 kilometers (17,567 miles) of navigable rivers and canals.

Read more here: http://orbis.stanford.edu/.

View full article. | Posted in Websites and Resources on Sat, 05/12/2012 - 6:01pm by .

A beta version of www.classicaltimeline.com, a new educational resource surveying the history of Classical antiquity, has just been launched and is currently seeking editors and contributors. If you wish to get involved please go to http://www.classicalstudiesonline.org/get-involved/ to find out more.

View full article. | Posted in Websites and Resources on Wed, 05/09/2012 - 1:19pm by .

From Helma Dik via the Digital Classicist List:

I'm delighted to announce the release of an iPad app for introductory and intermediate Greek readers. Its name is Attikos and it includes a selection of familiar texts, including morphological information. The author is Josh Day, himself recently an intermediate Greek student.

Link to the app store page: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/attikos/id522497233?mt=8

Writing the app would not have been nearly as feasible without the Perseus Project's generous policies of making its data available to third parties. It includes links to logeion.uchicago.edu, which is an interface for dictionaries and reference works, including Liddell and Scott. Again, that website is based for the most part on resources from the Perseus Project at Tufts. When not connected to the internet, the app itself offers short definitions, as familiar from Perseus.

Texts include the Iliad, some Lysias and Plato, and the Antigone. Some texts have been parsed completely; no translations are included, however. Bonus features allow the user to look up morphological parses of words they type in, or figure them out with the included morphological charts.

View full article. | Posted in Websites and Resources on Tue, 05/08/2012 - 1:24am by .

During a televised debate between Congressman Ron Paul and Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman, Congressman Paul pointed to inflation under Diocletian as a reason to be concerned about expansion of the money supply today.  Prof. Krugman disagrees, although he admits to little knowledge of ancient history, and in a subsequent post discusses the difficulty of talking about the "zero lower bound" when the numerical system has no zero.  In Slate, Matthew Yglesias provides a literature summary on the topic. 

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Wed, 05/02/2012 - 2:15pm by Adam Blistein.

Sally Anne MacEwen, Professor and Chair of Classics at Agnes Scott College, died on March 15, 2012 after a long and astonishingly cheerful and determined fight against cancer. Born in Abington, PA in 1948, Sally earned her B.A. From Mount Holyoke College and her Ph.D. From the University of Pennsylvania. After a two years at the University of Utah, Sally spent thirty years teaching at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, GA, where she inspired generations of women with a love of Classics and especially of Greek tragedy and its resonance in our modern world. Her unwavering commitment to her Quaker beliefs and to the importance of equality and diversity helped to make Agnes Scott more just and supportive of its entire community.

Sally’s publications ranged from Euripides’ Iphigenia at Aulis to Thelma and Louise, and her teaching was similarly wide-ranging. A signature course was based on her book Superheroes and Greek Tragedy: Comparing Cultural Icons, and at the time of her death she was teaching a new course entitled “Racism (or not) in Antiquity”; these two courses epitomize Sally’s scholarship, teaching, and profound understanding of the relevance of Classics in the modern world. In addition to her service at Agnes Scott, Sally was a long-time member of the Women’s Classical Caucus and served as its newsletter editor form 2004-2010.

View full article. | Posted in In Memoriam on Mon, 04/30/2012 - 3:54pm by Adam Blistein.

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