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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The APA Committee on Ancient and Modern Performance (CAMP) seeks participants for its performance at the APA Annual Meeting in Philadelphia.  This year’s play is the premiere of The Jurymen, an Aristophanic take on the last days of Socrates, written by Katherine Janson, and directed by Amy R. Cohen.  We need actors, musicians, stage crew, and helpers for our limited-rehearsal staged reading.  Rehearsals will begin on Wednesday, January 4 and the performance will take place on the evening of Friday, January 6.  Send an e-mail describing your interests and talents to acohen@randolphcollege.edu, by September 1, 2011.  Read the script at apollonejournal.org.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Thu, 07/07/2011 - 3:16pm by Adam Blistein.

The Joint Committee on Placement and APA Staff are developing a system that will bring greater automation to the process of registering candidates and institutions for the Service and of scheduling interviews at the 2012 Joint Annual Meeting in Philadelphia.  We hope to have this system in place by the beginning of September.  While this new system is being developed, the Service will operate in the following manner:

For candidates:  Placement Director Renie Plonski will send an e-mail to all candidates registered for last year’s Service (2010-2011) stating that, unless they wish to discontinue their subscriptions, they will continue to receive e-mails around the 1st and 15th of each month containing all position listings recently submitted to the Service.  Any new candidate who wishes to receive the semi-monthly e-mails may be added to the e-mail list at no charge by submitting that request to Renie (plonskii@sas.upenn.edu).  Note:  Once the new automated system is implemented, we will no longer use this interim e-mail list.  All candidates wishing to participate in the 2011-2012 Service will need to register for it and pay the required fee. 

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Thu, 07/07/2011 - 2:37pm by Adam Blistein.

"Two years ago, an archivist at Tufts University was sifting through manuscripts in the library's special collections when he came across a lone, unlabeled folder. To his surprise, it contained a stack of documents that no one then at the library had ever seen, some of them dating back to the 12th century. The Tisch Library Miscellany Collection was born. Now, Marie-Claire A. Beaulieu, an assistant professor of classics, has a novel way of identifying the documents and translating them from Latin to English—she's having her students do it. The 15 undergraduates and graduates she enlisted became historical sleuths, opening the cold case of the centuries-old texts; their work has been published online in the project's digital archive." Read more at The Chronicle of Higher Education online.

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Thu, 07/07/2011 - 12:51pm by Information Architect.

From the website of Lady Margaret Hall, University of Oxford:

Everyone at LMH was deeply saddened by the death of Dr Simon Price on 14 June 2011. Simon was a distinguished scholar, and a much appreciated teacher to generations of students in Ancient History and in Classical Archaeology. He continued researching and writing after he had taken early retirement in 2008. He was able to complete The Birth of Classical Europe, written in collaboration with Peter Thonemann, which has recently been published in paperback by Penguin.

Simon’s funeral will be on Thursday 23 June at 2.45pm in St Margaret’s Church, 19 St Margaret’s Road, Oxford, OX2 6RX. All are welcome.  

The family has asked people not to send flowers for the funeral but if anyone would like to make a donation in Simon’s memory to do so for the Ancient History Fellowship at LMH. This was Simon's wish.

Cheques, made payable to ‘LMH Development Fund’ and marked ‘Simon Price’ should be sent to the Development Office, Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, OX2 6QA.  Donations may also be made online.

View full article. | Posted in In Memoriam on Wed, 07/06/2011 - 3:52pm by .

"When the name Cleopatra is mentioned, images of a powerful, exotic seductress may come to mind. While that may not necessarily be false, a Miami University professor is looking to flesh out the infamous femme fatale in a presentation working in conjunction with the Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal’s exhibit of the Egyptian queen. Associate professor of classics Denise McCoskey’s presentation, “Cleopatra, a fatale monstrum? Encountering the Egyptian Queen in Roman Literature and Propaganda,” examines Cleopatra’s entire person, both as an able, multicultural ruler of a powerful state as well as how the Augustan propagandists presented her in the midst of Rome’s civil war — an image McCoskey said endures to this day."

Read more at http://beingcleopatra.blogspot.com.es/2011/08/cincinnati-lecture-encountering.html

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Sat, 07/02/2011 - 5:48pm by Information Architect.

"Trojan Women (after Euripides), a new version of one of the greatest anti-war dramas of all time, will be the sixth annual outdoor theatrical production in the Getty Villa's Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman Theater. New York-based Siti Company, one of America's leading ensemble theater companies, will perform an original retelling of Euripides' ancient Greek tragedy, in the world premiere of a Getty-commissioned production. These performances will mark one of Siti Company's rare appearances on the west coast. Directed by the company's artistic director Anne Bogart, the play features original music composed by Christian Frederickson and a text adapted by playwright Jocelyn Clarke."

Read more at losangeles.broadwayworld.com…

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Sat, 07/02/2011 - 5:44pm by Information Architect.

"On Friday, July 1, 2011, the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) opens a suite of new permanent galleries, reintroducing its visitors to the ancient civilizations of Rome, Byzantium and Nubia. Several never-before-seen objects are featured while others have been unseen by the public since previous galleries were closed in 2004 during the Renaissance ROM expansion project. To showcase these remarkable empires as never before, extensive new videos, shot on location, are featured alongside impressive artifacts in this new, dynamic space." Read more at artdaily.org…

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Sat, 07/02/2011 - 5:33pm by Information Architect.

"Some time in the 1920s, the Conservative statesman F. E. Smith — Lord Birkenhead — gave a copy of the “Nicomachean Ethics” to his close friend Winston Churchill. He did so saying there were those who thought this was the greatest book of all time. Churchill returned it some weeks later, saying it was all very interesting, but he had already thought most of it out for himself. But it is the very genius of Aristotle — as it is of every great teacher — to make you think he is uncovering your own thought in his. In Churchill’s case, it is also probable that the classical tradition informed more of his upbringing, at home and at school, than he realized." 

Read more of Harry Jaffa's review of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics (Robert C. Bartlett and Susan D. Collins, trans.) at the New York Times online…

View full article. | Posted in Book Reviews on Sat, 07/02/2011 - 5:31pm by Information Architect.

Mary Beard regrets that an elegant history of Rome is marred by howlers. Read the review at The Guardian online.

View full article. | Posted in Book Reviews on Wed, 06/29/2011 - 1:13pm by Information Architect.

http://www.digitalclassicist.org/

The Digital Classicist is a decentralised and international community of scholars and students interested in the application of innovative digital methods and technologies to research on the ancient world. The Digital Classicist is not core funded, and nor is it owned by any institution. The main purpose of this site is to offer a web-based hub for discussion, collaboration and communication.

View full article. | Posted in Websites and Resources on Thu, 06/23/2011 - 1:35pm by .

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