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.”

Categories

Follow SCS News for information about the SCS and all things classical.

Use this field to search SCS News
Select a category from this list to limit the content on this page.
Newspaper

Pro Publica: A Public Classics Workshop

How can we better speak and write about the ancient Mediterranean for the general public? How can academics engaged in the study of antiquity underscore the relevance of Classics in the present day? The Society for Classical Studies and the Department of Classics at Northwestern University invite applications to participate in the Public Classics Workshop (PCW) scheduled on October 18-19, 2019 on the campus of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. The workshop will explore issues surrounding public scholarship rooted in the study of the ancient Mediterranean through a combination of lectures, mentoring, and workshopping a piece of public-facing scholarship. The ultimate goal will be not only to learn, but also to polish a piece of public scholarship that can be pitched for future publication.

Speakers and Mentors:  

Sarah E. Bond

Nyasha Junior

Scott Lepisto  

Denise McCoskey  

Nandini Pandey

Claire Voon  

Donna Zuckerberg  

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Tue, 03/26/2019 - 7:53pm by Helen Cullyer.
Mosaic Tesserae, Byzantine (6th–15th century), Glass, gold and silver leaf. New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Accession Number:2016.11.1–.50. Image Credit: Metropolitan Museum, public domain. Image source: https://metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/7

Gone are the days when scholars of Ancient Greek and Latin literature relied solely on a prodigious memory and a printed library of classical texts, commentaries, and reference works. Digitized texts and new tools for textual analysis supplement traditional approaches. These methods do not require a physical library, and they promise to save time and to produce new insights.

The Tesserae Project seeks to take advantage of digital corpora to enable the user to find connections between texts. Its web interface allows users to search two texts or corpora from Greek and Latin literature for occurrences of two or more shared words within a line or phrase.


Screenshot of the homepage for the Tesserae Project.

View full article. | Posted in on Sun, 03/24/2019 - 10:00pm by Julian Yolles.

The SCS has received a response from a group of graduate students to Professor Joy Connolly’s blog post Working Towards a Just and Inclusive Future for Classics. This repsonse is posted below.

The student authors are anonymous and neither SCS staff nor Officers know their identities. As agreed with the Communications Committee, this piece is not appearing on the SCS blog, since the current policy is not to publish anonymous submissions on the blog. However, the Communications Committee and SCS staff agree that it is important to give students a voice and publish their contributions to debates about the future. The SCS leadership recognizes that there are circumstances under which anonymity can protect younger and more vulnerable members of the profession (see the dialogue following the board statement on ad hominem anonymous attacks), and shares the hope of the students, expressed in their final paragraph, that we can move towards a future where the protection of anonymity will no longer be necessary. 

The SCS office requested just one edit, on placement service data, to the submission. The post has not been otherwise edited or revised.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Thu, 03/21/2019 - 8:59pm by Helen Cullyer.
Penland Rome China 00

How can we forge better and lasting connections between the ancient Mediterranean and modern Chinese culture? At the end of the last school year, I had the occasion to sit down with my student, Hongshen Ken Lin (林鸿燊) to talk about his experiences in Classics. Ken was at the end of his senior year and had been accepted early to Harvard, where he planned to combine his love of Big Data and digital humanities with something equally remote and challenging: the study of Roman and Greek Antiquity.


Penland Rome China 01
Hongshen Ken Lin on the Harvard China website.

According to Ken, he became interested in studying Latin through a family trip to Rome combined with a freshman history class in the Ancient Mediterranean at his new US school. That was the first time he realized that Latin existed. He had not had much exposure to Roman and Greek history in China.

View full article. | Posted in on Thu, 03/21/2019 - 8:38pm by Liz Penland.
Call for Papers
October, 26th 2019.
University of Florida, Gainesville, FL.
Third University of Florida Classics Graduate Student Symposium
 
Justice turns the balance scales
Δίκα δὲ τοῖς μὲν παθοῦσιν μαθεῖν ἐπιρρέπει (Aeschylus, Agamemnon, 250-1)
“But Justice turns the balance scales,
sees that we suffer and we suffer and we learn.” (trans. Robert Fagles)

The importance of the concept of justice in ancient literature and culture set the foundation for the philosophical, social, and political reflections on the subject in the centuries that followed. From archaic theodicy, to the great plays of the Tragedians, from Caesar’s debate with Cato, to life under tyrannical emperors, δίκη [dīke] and iustitia (νόμος [nomos] and ius…) come to the fore as key ideas to interpret the world and man’s role/duty in it.  Many human experiences that ancient literature describes broached the issue of justice, be it at a personal level (the problem of suffering, retribution, progress, etc.) or at a societal and historical level (administration of justice, redistribution of land, great legal cases of ancient history, etc.). These ideas have been the point of reference for many literary works and philosophical/political reflections in the cultural tradition that reaches us today.

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Thu, 03/21/2019 - 11:15am by Erik Shell.
"Empty Theatre (almost)"by Kevin Jaako, licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Department of Classics and the Ancient Theater Performance Group of Cornell University present....

TROADES 
“The Trojan Women”
by Seneca

In the original Latin
 
Directed by Daniel Gallagher and Nathan Chazan
  
Sunday, April 21, 2019 – 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, April 24, 2019 – 7: 30 p.m.

Rhodes-Rawlings Auditorium – Klarman Hall
 
Admission is free.
For more information:lmb296@cornell.edu

---

(Photo: "Empty Theatre (almost)" by Kevin Jaako, licensed under CC BY 2.0)

View full article. | Posted in Performances on Thu, 03/21/2019 - 8:20am by Erik Shell.

The Many Faces of War V: An annual interdisciplinary symposium on the experience and impact of war throughout history

 October 17th-18th, 2019 at South Dakota State University

This annual interdisciplinary conference aims to address both the experience and impact of war for those fighting as well as for those on the periphery of combat.  

The conference is aimed equally at postgraduate students, researchers in the early stages of their careers and established academics. There are no specific geographical or temporal parameters regarding the subject matter of papers, and scholars and students of ancient, medieval and modern warfare are encouraged to submit proposals. We would also encourage the proposal of panels of three papers.

 This year we encourage a focus on veterans and associated studies or experiences. Suggested topics are: PTSD; the social stigma of retreat or cowardice; social security systems for war widows and orphans; the effect of training on a soldier’s mindset and actions (before, during and after combat); the social position of soldiers and veterans;  literature and poetry of war; the art and architecture of war and remembrance. 

Proposals/abstracts should be no longer than 250 words and should be sent to:

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Wed, 03/20/2019 - 8:42am by Erik Shell.

SCS is pleased to announce the addition of a candidate to the 2019 election slate for President-Elect. Professor Shelley P. Haley has received the support of over 30 SCS members, and, in accordance with Bylaw 30, she has been added as a candidate in the upcoming summer elections. You can view the updated slate here.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Mon, 03/18/2019 - 1:34pm by Helen Cullyer.

The 2019 Election Slate is now available. Please click here for a list of candidates nominated by the Nominating Committee and for instructions for those members who wish to petition to be added to the ballot. 

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Mon, 03/18/2019 - 11:41am by Helen Cullyer.
Three Roman votive offering representing faces. Credit: Wellcome Collection. CC BY 4.0: https://wellcomecollection.org/works/vy2engnk

Emma-Jayne Graham discusses her newly launched digital project with Jessica Hughes called The Votives Project, which examines ancient religion, medicine, and the divine through the lens of votive offerings in ancient sanctuaries and beyond. 

“There must be lots of people working on material like this – wouldn’t it be great to be able to talk to them too?” This was the gist of a conversation with my colleague Jessica Hughes which eventually led to the creation of The Votives Project: a website and network of people from different backgrounds who study, create, or use votive offerings or other related ways of communicating with the divine.

View full article. | Posted in on Thu, 03/14/2019 - 3:45pm by Emma-Jayne Graham.

Pages

Latest Stories

Calls for Papers
The twenty-second biennial New College Conference on Medieval and Renaissance
Conferences, Lectures, and Meetings
The Presence of Plotinus: The Self, Contemplation, a
In Memoriam
(Written by David T. West) Grace Starry West (1946-2019)
Awards and Fellowships
The American Academy in Berlin invites applications for its residential fello

© 2019, Society for Classical Studies Privacy Policy