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 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.

From time to time, T.H.M. Gellar-Goad will be checking in with a member of the discipline to see how they conceptualize or define “productivity” in their own work and in the profession. We’ll ask them the same set of five questions and share their responses, plus perhaps a photo or two from their experiences. These Perspectives on Productivity will present views from a diverse cross-section of our field, people from all sorts of backgrounds, working in all sorts of areas, and at all sorts of stages in their Classics-related journeys. Today we hear from Lindsey Mazurek, Assistant Professor in the Department of History at the University of Oregon.

What does “productivity” mean to you as a member of the discipline?

View full article. | Posted in on Thu, 02/21/2019 - 9:28am by Lindsey Mazurek.

"Fly me to the moon" The moon in human imagination
University of Genova (Italy) December 12th-13th 2019

From October 2018 through December 2022, NASA will mark the 50th anniversary of the Apollo Program that landed a dozen Americans on the moon between July 1969 and December 1972.

All kind of events, activities, exhibitions, seminars dedicated to celebrating the first moon landing are understandably spreading everywhere and we want to join the celebrations in our own way.

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Wed, 02/20/2019 - 12:20pm by Erik Shell.

(Written by Meredith Hoppin, Department of Classics, Williams College)

Charles John Fuqua, Garfield Professor of Ancient Languages Emeritus at Williams College, died peacefully at his home in Williamstown, Massachusetts on 19 January 2019, his wife, three children, and grandchild at his side. He was 83 years old.

Charlie was born on 5 October 1935 in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France and grew up in Arlington, Virginia. He attended Gonzaga College High School in Washington, D.C. and graduated from Princeton University in 1957. Charlie served in the U. S. Navy for three years and in the Naval Reserves for eight more, retiring as a Lieutenant Commander. While a graduate student at Cornell, where he studied with Gordon Kirkwood, Charlie met and married a fellow graduate student in Classics, Mary Louis Morse of Vermont. After receiving his Ph.D. in 1964 and teaching at Dartmouth for two years, in 1966 Charlie came to Williams to chair the Classics Department, which he did for the next twenty years. Charlie arrived at the college when it was just embarking on momentous changes, including expanding the size of the student body, admitting women, and recruiting a substantially more diverse set of faculty, staff, and students. Charlie participated actively in ensuring the success of these changes, within the department and throughout the college.

View full article. | Posted in In Memoriam on Wed, 02/20/2019 - 11:50am by Erik Shell.

Like many others, I'm trying to funnel the anger and frustration that I felt at our panel on the "Future of Classics" at the Annual Meeting in San Diego toward taking action that can make a difference, even on a small scale.  At the panel Professor Sarah Bond and Professor Dan-el Padilla Peralta promptly condemned the comments a speaker from the audience made about Dan-el as well as her intellectually and politically regressive defense of classical studies.   My thoughts here are intended to carry forward their energetic advocacy. 

To combat racist attitudes and assumptions that persist not only at the margins of the field but among and around us, we must act now on our home campuses and schools.  Here are five ideas to get us started.  There are many more.  It’s important to note that at some schools, faculty and students are already acting on these ideas or better versions of them.  They arise from my experience as a university administrator, where I've seen countless discussions about diversity go in circles until faculty, students, and staff commit together to do specific things within a short time frame.  They are designed for use at college and university campuses, the world I know best, but K-12 teachers and scholars are included here, and I welcome ideas from this crucially important sector of our field. 

Ideas for action in the coming 30-60 days 
 

View full article. | Posted in on Fri, 02/15/2019 - 7:16am by Joy Connolly.

We have now reviewed the video of the Panel on the Future of Classics, which will be disseminated online today, February 14, 2019. 

The video makes it clear that what was said to Prof. Padilla Peralta was: “You may have got your job because you’re black, but I would prefer to think you got your job because of merit.”

Despite this factual correction to Presidential letter of 1/10/19, the SCS leadership stands by the substance of the Presidential letter and the actions taken onsite in San Diego, which have been reviewed by the Professional Ethics Committee. We repeat here that the future of classical studies depends on expansion, inclusion, and focused attention on and action to remedy the under-representation of people of color in Classics.

Mary T. Boatwright

SCS President

(Update: the Future of Classics video is now available on the SCS YouTube Channel)

View full article. | Posted in Presidential Letters on Thu, 02/14/2019 - 9:27am by Helen Cullyer.

Celebrating the Divine — Roman Festivals in Art, Religion, and Literature

University of Virginia, 30–31 August 2019

Festivals are ubiquitous in the life of the Roman world, and so are their depictions in ancient art and texts. Reliefs, mosaics and paintings, but also coins all show scenes of festivity. Very often, these images reflect on the relationship of humans and gods and the special encounter between both spheres that takes place in a festive context. In literary texts, feast days often occupy a prominent position: they are crucial for the preservation of memory and identity, but they also mark fateful beginnings or momentous endings in a narrative and act as privileged sites of self-definition for individuals or the community.

This interdisciplinary conference aims to bring together scholars of literature, art, and religion to examine how Roman festivals are represented in different media and to explore the functions of such representations.

Possible questions include, but are by no means limited to the following:

How does one depict the particular type of event that is the festival? Is there a typical ‘festive scenery,’ and what are its elements? What are the techniques used for depicting the festive encounter of mortals and gods? How can the secret rites of the Mysteries be represented?

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Mon, 02/11/2019 - 10:06am by Erik Shell.

The conference is organized under the auspices of the Ministry of Science of Montenegro and will be held in Herceg Novi, an ancient town on the coast of the Adriatic Sea, and an intersecting point of different cultures during ancient and medieval times.

As one of the institutions participating in the COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology) Action entitled Reappraising Intellectual Debates on Civic Rights and Democracy in Europe, the Center for Hellenic Studies organized a series of lectures, presentations and round tables, participated by eminent experts in philosophy, history, political theory, theology, classics, and other disciplines. As the final phase of the project, the Center deemed opportune to initiate a debate on the achievements, values and guide marks that Hellenic political philosophy can have for contemporary Europe, in which the apprehension of the political is chiefly reduced to the interests of powers and corporations, being thus exclusively linked to the technique of conquering and maintaining dominance.

Ancient Hellenic conception, that gave birth to notions like freedom, democracy, parrhesia, publicity and other, reminds us that ancient Greeks understood politics not only as a fundamental designation of human beings – as, according to Aristotle, anyone who does not partake of society is either a beast or a god – but also as inseparably linked to ethics.

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Mon, 02/11/2019 - 10:02am by Erik Shell.

The program submission system is now open and accepting proposals.

You can visit the main page at https://program.classicalstudies.org/

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(Photo: "_DSC7061" by rhodesj, licensed under CC BY 2.0)

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Mon, 02/11/2019 - 9:31am by Erik Shell.

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