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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11–14 November 2019
Faculty of Arts, Masaryk University, Brno

The event represents a unique opportunity to bring together scholars from various disciplines of Classical Studies and other Humanities to share ideas on the playwriting of Titus Maccius Plautus, especially the performative aspects of his comedies and the process of their reception and adaptation to different languages and for the stage.

The participants are invited to fit their talk into one of the following panels:

1) Plautus on Page
Possible issues: How does the linguistics, art history, social/cultural/judicial studies, etc. contribute to our understanding of Plautine comedies as play texts? What are the sources and limits of reconstructing the actual stage practices of the ancient Roman theatre performances? Ancient intradialogical and extradialogical stage directions – how to read and understand them? And other.

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Tue, 03/12/2019 - 2:30pm by Erik Shell.
Blue Women

All tickets are now reserved for the free staged reading and discussion of Emily Wilson's Odyssey translation at BAM on March 15 at 7.30pm. There will be a standby line. Reserved seats must be claimed by 7:20 p.m. Unclaimed seats will then be released to those on the standby line. 

Doors open at BAM Fisher (321 Ashland Pl, Brooklyn, NY 11217) at 6:30 p.m. for a book signing by Emily Wilson. Please bring your own copies for signing, as we will not be selling books.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Mon, 03/11/2019 - 8:51am by Erik Shell.

March 6, 2019

RE: Statement to the Field about the State of Classics at the University of Vermont (UVM)

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

After receiving a number of concerned queries about recent cutbacks to Classics at UVM (Universitas Viridis Montis), the department’s faculty have composed the following statement:

Jeffrey Henderson and Richard Thomas, conducting our Academic Program Review of 2014–2015, concluded their positive assessment as follows:

View full article. | Posted in on Thu, 03/07/2019 - 9:08pm by University of Vermont.

The World Upside-Down: Absurdities, Inversions, and Alternate Realities

Columbia University Ancient Mediterranean Graduate Student Conference
November 1-2, 2019. Columbia University in the City of New York, USA.                           

Keynote Speaker:  Patrick R. Crowley (University of Chicago)

In an era of ‘fake news’ and ‘alternative facts’ it can seem like no form of media should be entirely trusted. While these issues are a modern problem, exacerbated by the unprecedented rise of social media, evidence from the ancient world produces a similar ‘truthiness’: an upside-down world or alternate reality that is latent, barely below the surface of the present and just beyond the borders of civilization and norms. Unlike utopias, which are placeless or displaced, many of these imagined dystopic or feigned worlds are presented as dangerously close to their contemporaries.

We invite papers from graduate students working across disciplines related to the ancient world––and interdisciplinary approaches are encouraged––for a conference that will explore the relationships between fact and fiction, order and chaos. From representations of alternate realities in ancient drama, painting, and sculpture, to disparate histories and archaeological evidence, we hope to discuss the motivations behind, and effects of, the absurd, inverted, and alternative.

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Wed, 03/06/2019 - 3:04pm by Erik Shell.

We are writing for two reasons. First, we reiterate the statement of 1/6/19, authored and approved by the Board of Directors in San Diego. There is no place for racism in our field and we feel that is important to reissue that statement, given the increasing toxicity of online debate and the intensification of online harassment over the last few days:

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Mon, 03/04/2019 - 9:04am by Helen Cullyer.

Enlightenment: Paideia and Politics

The International Conference of Philosophy is organized every year by the Olympic Center for Philosophy and Culture in collaboration with the Region of Western Greece in Ancient Olympia, Greece. The XXVIII World Philosophy Conference will be held in Ancient Olympia, Greece, from July 5 to July 7, 2019.

The 28th International Conference of Philosophy is dedicated to the memory of Leonidas Bargeliotes, Emeritus Professor and Honorary President, and Sotiris Fournaros, Faculty member of Philosophy, Pedagogy and Psychology, Department of Philosophy, University of Athens, who both recently passed away. The aims of the 2019 Conference include an emphasis on exploring Enlightenment.

We welcome submissions from a wide range of disciplines, including politics, law, education/paideia, life sciences, and philosophy as well as philosophy and fine arts, and/or other relevant disciplines and fields.

Suggested Thematic Units:

  • Ancient Greek Enlightenment
  • Neoehellenic Enlightenment
  • European Enlightenment
  • Enlightenment and Religion
  • Enlightenment and Culture
  • Enlightenment and Postmodernism
  • Ancient Greek Theatre

Deadlines:

April 30, 2019:  Abstract is due (300-500 words)

May 31, 2019: Full Paper is due (2.500 words)

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Fri, 03/01/2019 - 11:42am by Erik Shell.
Perseus and Andromeda in landscape fresco Metropolitan Museum_public domain

The Scaife Viewer of the Perseus Project pursues a simple goal: to provide a clear and enjoyable reading experience of the Greek and Latin texts and translations of the Perseus Digital Library. It is the first installment of Perseus 5.0 and eventually will replace Perseus’ current interface, Perseus Hopper, as the primary means for accessing the texts and translations of the Perseus library. In its goal to simplify access to Perseus’ repository of texts, the Scaife Viewer is a success. Its layout is uncluttered, its texts legible, its design refreshing. As a result, the Scaife Viewer is a welcome re-imagining of how users read Perseus texts.

Since it is primarily a redesign of the Perseus interface, the Scaife Viewer’s interventions are both functional and aesthetic. Gone are the floating grey text-boxes, the blurry title card, the distracting Unicode-Betacode display preferences, and the rows of patchwork, horizontal browsing bars. The homepage presents the user with two options: Browse Library and Text Search.

Splash screen of Perseus Scaife viewer

View full article. | Posted in on Fri, 03/01/2019 - 10:42am by Stephen Andrew Sansom.

(Posted, with permission, from Meaningful Funerals)

Dr. John C. Traupman, of Penn Valley / Narberth, PA., a World War II veteran, University Professor, author of translation dictionaries of languages in Latin and German to English, and a prolific author of may Latin related subjects, died on February 18, 2019 at the Bryn Mawr Hospital. He was 96. His wife Pauline Temmel Traupman, whom he was married to for 70 years, died on December 7, 2018.

View full article. | Posted in In Memoriam on Thu, 02/28/2019 - 8:49am by Erik Shell.

The Society for Classical Studies would like to clarify that the Society's Committee on Professional Ethics has not censured Prof. Sarah Bond. More details will be forthcoming later.

Helen Cullyer, Executive Director

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Wed, 02/27/2019 - 9:49am by Helen Cullyer.

The new Classics Everywhere initiative, recently launched by the SCS, supports projects that seek to introduce and engage communities all over the US with the worlds of Greek and Roman antiquity in new and meaningful ways. During the first round of applications, the SCS funded 13 projects, ranging from performances and a cinema series to educational programs and inter-institutional collaborations. In celebration of Black History Month, we’d like to highlight four of the projects funded in this round which aim to shed light on African-Americans’ interaction with the Greek and Roman worlds.

View full article. | Posted in on Mon, 02/25/2019 - 6:00am by Nina Papathanasopoulou.

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