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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Inside Higher Ed's academic minute today features APA member Barbara Gold speaking on the subject of love in ancient Rome. Listen to the audio clip at http://www.insidehighered.com/audio/2012/02/14/love-ancient-rome.

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Tue, 02/14/2012 - 3:01pm by Information Architect.

Robert Siegel talks with Classics professor Philip Freeman about his translation of the book, "How to Win an Election: An Ancient Guide for Modern Politicians." The book was written by the brother of Marcus Cicero, for when Marcus ran for office in Rome in 64 B.C. But the ancient Roman guide for campaigning still holds lessons for today's elections.

Listen to the story at npr.org.

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Wed, 02/08/2012 - 2:06am by Information Architect.

The Classics faculty at Royal Holloway have just been informed that in 2014 they will lose one position or, if applications decrease this year, two positions. Applications are holding up, so it seems that only one position will be lost. This is much better than the dire scenario that was threatened last summer, when many of our members signed an international petition in defense of Classics at RHUL.

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Thu, 02/02/2012 - 2:34pm by Information Architect.

The APA Unicode fonts AtticaU, BosporosU, KadmosU, which are a part of GreekKeys 2008, now have styled versions (italic, bold, and bold italic) to accompany the regular typeface previously available.

Formerly, almost any computer application that was capable of displaying text could also display styled versions of a font by modifying a regular version installed on the system. In recent years, some advanced programs have been designed so that they no longer create such styles on the fly, but instead will apply a style to a font only if there is a separate styled version of the font installed on the system. MS Word still behaves in the old way and is content with only a regular version. Programs like Pages, Mellel, and InDesign adopt the new approach and require styled versions.

The characters of the APA fonts have now been reprocessed in FontLab Studio to create AtticaU Italic, AtticaU Bold, AtticaU Bold Italic, BosporosU Italic, BosporosU Bold, BosporosU Bold Italic, KadmosU Italic, KadmosU Bold, KadmosU Bold Italic alongside AtticU Regular, BosporosU Regular, and KadmosU Regular.

Anyone who is interested and holds a license to GreekKeys 2008 is invited to email djmastronarde at berkeley dot edu to receive instructions for downloading the new styled versions of these fonts. Feedback is welcome.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Tue, 01/31/2012 - 1:24am by .

Valerie French, Associate Professor Emerita of History in American University, Washington, D.C., died suddenly in her home in Washington, Dec. 8, 2011, in her 71st year. She was born in Toledo, Ohio, Jan. 16, 1941. She received her B.A. degree in chemistry from Cornell University, where her interest in ancient history was awakened in classes under Donald Kagan. She pursued ancient history at UCLA, where she gained her M.A. and Ph. D. (1971) degrees, learning her needed languages in graduate school. She taught at American University from 1969 until her retirement in 2005. She received multiple awards for teaching and for her work in administration. Ebullient and supportive towards all, she served several years as a dean. She published widely on the history and activities of women and children in antiquity and sustained by herself the program in ancient history at American University. Other colleagues will discuss her work in these areas. This notice will focus on her strictly scientific work. It has remained little known but is of the highest importance for Greek, especially Athenian, history.

View full article. | Posted in In Memoriam on Sun, 01/29/2012 - 10:01pm by Adam Blistein.

James H. Tatum, Dartmouth College, has won the American Book Award for 2011 for his book African American Writers and Classical Tradition, Chicago, 2010, co-authored with William Cook.  The American Book Awards, established in 1978 by the Before Columbus Foundation, recognize outstanding literary achievement from the entire spectrum of America's diverse literary community.

View full article. | Posted in Member News on Sun, 01/29/2012 - 9:09pm by Adam Blistein.

Each year the National Committee for Latin and Greek (NCLG) sponsors National Latin Teacher Recruitment Week (NLTRW), which takes place during the week of March 5th this year.  The APA has joined the American Classical League and numerous regional and state organizations in this effort to encourage all Classicists at all levels of instruction to take steps that will ensure that Latin, Greek, and Classics pre-college classrooms have the teachers they need.  Thanks to the considerable public interest in Latin and the classical world, demand for Latin teachers at the primary and secondary levels has outrun supply, and there is now a serious shortage in many regions of the USA and Canada.  Each year, for lack of teachers, existing programs are cancelled, thriving programs are told they cannot expand, and schools that want to add Latin are unable to do so. 

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Wed, 01/25/2012 - 9:17pm by Adam Blistein.

From The Chronicle Review:

Erasmus quoted the Iliad in a time of widening war:

Men get their fill of sleep and love, of beautiful singing and carefree dance, but they never get enough of war.

And they never get enough of the Iliad. In his anthology, Homer in English, George Steiner asked in 1996, Why are there so many Iliads in English? His answer: notions of noble manliness. "There shines throughout the Iliad an idealized yet also unflinching vision of masculinity, of an order of values and mutual recognitions radically virile."

Small wonder the epic has appealed to warrior nations like England and the United States. William Blake warned, "It is the Classics & not Goths nor Monks, that Desolate Europe with Wars.

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Wed, 01/25/2012 - 2:26pm by Information Architect.

Instructions for submission of proposals to the APA Program Committee for review at its meeting in April will be posted here at the beginning of February.  The deadline for receipt of these submissions will be no earlier than March 16, 2012.  Until these instructions are posted, consult the information provided last year, especially the program policies, the descriptions of materials required for the different types of submissions, and the information on eligibility.  (Note:  Persons submitting proposals to the Program Committee this year must be members in good standing for 2012.)  While the method of submission may be different this year, general policies and the materials required will be very similar and probably identical. 

At its April meeting the Program Committee will consider the following types of submissions

Proposals of Sessions for the 2013 Annual Meeting

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Tue, 01/24/2012 - 3:00pm by Adam Blistein.

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