2021 SCS Award for Excellence in Teaching Classics at the K-12 Level: Award Citations

Congratulations again to our 2021 winners! You can read the full award citations for each prize winner by clicking on the names below:

Jessie Craft

Mathew Olkovikas

Margaret Somerville


Jessie Craft, Regan High School, Pfafftown, NC

Jessie Craft knows how to reach students who are not easy to reach. His first five years of teaching were spent in a school that had been borderline Title 1 for many years, with students who were not the usual demographic to sign up for Latin. Magister Craft started reaching out to them with “Quotes of the Day,” uplifting thoughts from ancient authors that students would reflect on and apply to their daily lives. As they began to engage, he studied secondary language acquisition and started to introduce more oral instruction into his curriculum – as he puts it, teaching Latin by “speaking to humans in a human way”. Drawing on Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling (TPRS), he would imagine himself as “some Homeric bard who goes about telling his students riveting stories about mythology, Roman history, and culture.” As he told his tales, he would draw, gesticulate, intonate, shout, whisper, and slay enemies with Expo swords. He found that active Latin created equity in the class, making it an inclusive environment suitable for anyone, regardless of background. Students who would normally struggle in traditional grammar and translation-based classes were now flourishing. Where before 30% of students were failing, now most had A’s and B’s.

As Magister Craft rethought the way he presented material, he began using the Minecraft platform to teach Roman architecture and city planning by constructing digital structures and public spaces online. As he notes, he saw Minecraft “as a bridge between the cultures of ancient Rome and that of the students”. He recorded audio-visual guided tours through these spaces, describing their features in simple Latin with English subtitles. The results were “wonderful and humbling”. His students loved the videos and understood the Latin in real time. Through Minecraft, Magister Craft brought digital convenience and immersive learning into his classroom, improving retention, recollection, and comprehension.

A radical innovator and brilliant teacher, Magister Craft has shared his materials, influencing colleagues across the country. His YouTube channel Divus Magister Craft now has nearly 11,000 subscribers, and his advanced Latin-language podcast, Legio XIII, has several hundred. As one of his nominators notes, “it is not an exaggeration to say that Jessie is one of the world's leading digital pedagogues of Latin language and Roman civilization”. Magister Craft richly fulfills his goal of making the Classics and Latin relevant and accessible to students of all walks of life.

We are honored to recognize Jessie Craft for his outstanding teaching with the SCS’s 2021 Award for Excellence in Teaching of the Classics at the K-12 Level.

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Matthew Olkovikas, Pinkerton Academy in Derry, NH

Matthew Olkovikas has created a sense of community around Latin at Pinkerton, starting with the meaningful connections he forges with his students. His alumni remark on his unwavering compassion and his ability to really listen to students. One mentions the amusing nicknames Magister Olkovikas uses to create a welcoming atmosphere at the beginning of the semester: “within a week I had received [my nickname] and my anxieties were quelled. It was in this classroom that my strongest friendships were fostered.” Magister Olkovikas is always building community, whether he is leading trips to Italy every other February, or to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, or organizing bi-annual dinners at local restaurants that serve Greek and Italian foods. His students take ancient Greek after school and write for the program’s annual Stylus and Strigil magazine. The Pinkerton Academy Classical Society is among the most active clubs on campus. “This can all feel”, he notes, “like the proverbial throwing of spaghetti against the wall, trying to offer as many opportunities in a small program as an entire Spanish department might, but I feel that providing an abundance of opportunity often results in students’ taking us up in surprising ways”. These rich opportunities are the reason his classroom is never empty after school, as students flock there simply to spend time with him and chat.

Magister Olkovikas deeply believes that Latin is for everyone. He welcomes students by identifying their individual talents and interests and nudging them towards meaningful activities. As he notes, “The presence of astronomy buffs has yielded class and club events on Greco-Roman cosmology; a recent wealth of excellent choir students has resulted in an early music event. A student’s computer skills led to a grammatical game app. If there are botany fans, we’ll grow an olive tree in the room. Is Greek alluring? Fetch the Athenaze.” He believes in taking things seriously but making it fun, whether through his famous “Matisms” (e.g., describing a depiction of Zeus as “the pinnacle of Zeusitude”), or wacky review games like “Slapite Mihi” (Slap Me, the io game). As an alumnus writes, “he has the remarkable gift of being understated and unassuming and also funny and clear all simultaneously”. And his students achieve impressive results: in the past year, 47 of the program’s 120 students received cum laude or superior recognition on the National Latin Exam, National Classical Etymology Exam, the National Mythology Exam, and the National Roman Civilization Exam, with several taking bronze, silver, and gold.

We are honored to recognize Matthew Olkovikas for his outstanding teaching with the SCS’s 2021 Award for Excellence in Teaching of the Classics at the K-12 Level.

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Margaret Somerville, Friends’ Central School, Wynnewood, PA (grades 6-8)

Margaret Somerville takes a holistic approach to teaching, viewing language learning as a vehicle for students to know themselves better. “In homage to Socrates,” she explains, “I try to lead out what is already there within each student. I believe that the experience of learning Latin is about making meaning of who we are.” Helping each student feel their own worth means going beyond language structures, beyond learning to translate the Aeneid, and finding something personal. Students might create a line of African American Olympians to accompany a story in Latin, or make digital charts of “every single possible noun and verb inflection known to humanity,” or fall into hushed silence while the muse Calliope is invoked with the words Musa, mihi fabulam memora, and “Magistra” begins another installment of an epic tale, for Tempus Fabulae, a much-loved element of her classes. Students enjoy the nicknames by which they’re known (such as “Atlas” or “Penelope”) and the hands-on activities that create an engaging environment, such as “Derivative Faire,” where they receive a Latin root and are challenged to find as many related words as possible from other languages. Her students feel special and at home with her. As one alumnus writes, “She imparted in all us not just a love of Latin, but by extension a love of learning––a gift I will always be grateful for”.

Ms. Somerville is well known to Latin educators for her pioneering curriculum Prima Lingua: A Preparatory Course for the Study of Foreign Languages, a course for middle school students that provides a foundation in how all languages work, primarily the basics of grammar, syntax, and derivatives. Early in her career, she found that before she could begin teaching her students a second language, she had to give them a better grasp of how languages work. Only then were they ready to begin understanding what sets most world languages apart from English—such factors as gender, adjective-noun agreement, and word order. Prima Lingua builds on the longstanding role of Latin as a vehicle for teaching formal grammar, but instead of treating those forms of knowledge as implicit byproducts of learning to read Latin, it foregrounds them and makes them the subject of explicit study. Students really understand what it means that languages differ from each other and gain a more meaningful basis for deciding which language they want to learn. Encouraged by early results, Ms. Somerville turned her own classroom course into a workbook and teacher’s manual, complete with lesson plans, worksheets, and age appropriate activities (such as role playing animal communication for the segment on “Animal Languages”). Ms. Somerville has presented on the Prima Lingua curriculum at many conferences, ranging from ACTFL and ACL to NECC and ISTE and it is now taught across the country, and it has been used in grade levels from fourth grade through ninth grade.

We are honored to recognize Margaret Somerville for her outstanding teaching with the SCS’s 2021 Award for Excellence in Teaching of the Classics at the K-12 Level.

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 A neoclassical, Beaux-Arts-style building with columns in front. In front of it is a green lawn.

Our seventh interview in the Contingent Faculty Series is a virtual conversation between Dr. Taylor Coughlan and Dr. Victoria Austen.

Victoria Austen received her Ph.D. from King’s College London in 2020 and has been teaching at the University of Winnipeg since 2019. In September 2022, she will begin a two-year position at Carleton College, in Minnesota, as the Oden Postdoctoral Fellow in Innovation in the Humanities (Classics). Her main research focuses on the imaginative space of Roman gardens and landscapes across literature and art from the Late Republic and Early Empire; she is also interested in classical reception (particularly related to myth) and the study of race and ethnicity in the ancient world. She is the social media manager for Peopling the Past (@peoplingthepast), and you can also find her tweeting @Vicky_Austen.

Taylor Coughlan: You received your education and training in the UK, and moved to Canada to begin your professional career, and have a further move to the U.S. on the horizon. What have you learned from working in different cities and countries?

View full article. | Posted in on Mon, 05/23/2022 - 10:07am by .
Newspaper

The SAGP Board has decided that the 2022 Annual Meeting will again occur via Zoom. This makes it possible to stretch out the time-frame so that we do not have simultaneous panels. We will schedule panels on weekends, Friday through Monday (avoiding Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, since those are the heaviest teaching days for most people). We will schedule starting September 23, and ending November 19, for this round.

Members of the Society are invited to propose Zoom panels. Organizers should specify the topic of the panel, the proposed speakers (with academic affiliation and email address) and tentative title (check with them first!), and preferred date (and an alternate). Some preference for organizers who would be able to host a zoom event themselves.

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Fri, 05/20/2022 - 8:40am by .

Call for Papers

Sapiens Ubique Civis IX – Szeged 2022

PhD Student and Young Scholar Conference on Classics and the Reception of Antiquity

Szeged, Hungary, August 31–September 2, 2022

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Fri, 05/13/2022 - 10:47am by .
Res Difficiles 3 poster with full schedule of speakers

Classical Studies at Boston University and Classics, BU Center for the Humanities, Philosophy, & Religious Studies at the University of Mary Washington present Res Difficiles: A Conference On Challenges and Pathways for Addressing Inequity In Classics. 

When: May 20, 2022 , 9:00am - 4:00pm Eastern

Where: Live-streamed via Zoom. Registration now open

Dr. Kelly Nguyen (Stanford University) will deliver the keynote address, "(Be)Longing and (Re)Orienting In and Beyond the Classics Classroom"

The event will be live-captioned. Participants/viewers may live-tweet the event on the hashtag #ResDiff3.

You can find more information about the speakers and read the full program at https://resdifficiles.com/

Any questions can be directed to the co-organizers: Hannah Čulík-Baird and Joseph Romero.

View full article. | Posted in Conferences, Lectures, and Meetings on Wed, 05/11/2022 - 8:57pm by Helen Cullyer.
blue lecture poster, Earthquakes and the Structuring of Greco-Roman Society: the longue durée of human-geological environment relationships in Helike, Greece

On Thursday, May 12 at 6 pm ET, the AIA’s Student Affairs Interest Group (SAIG) and SCS’s Graduate Student Committee (GSC) will hold the 2022 SAIG/GSC Dissertation Lecture! This annual talk is a collaborative effort intended to highlight the work of a senior doctoral candidate whose research features interdisciplinary work between the fields of archaeology and Classical philology, and to support the student networks between these related fields.

Amanda Gaggioli, doctoral candidate at Stanford University and second SAIG/GSC Dissertation Lecturer, will present “Earthquakes and the Structuring of Greco-Roman Society: the longue durée of human-geological environment relationships in Helike, Greece.” This virtual talk integrates data from archaeology, history, and ancient languages with those from environmental sciences to discuss how earthquakes and other geological hazards affected human-ecological interactions in the ancient world. Full details are available below.
 

Earthquakes and the Structuring of Greco-Roman Society: the longue durée of human-geological environment relationships in Helike, Greece

Amanda Gaggioli, PhD Candidate, Department of Classics | Stanford Archaeology Center, Stanford University

May 12, 2022 | 6pm EST via Zoom

Registration is required at the following link:

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Mon, 05/09/2022 - 9:13pm by Helen Cullyer.

The Classics Program at Hunter College is pleased to announce the 84th Josephine Earle Memorial Lecture on Friday, May 13, at 5pm. The lecture is taking place virtually over Zoom. Pre-registration is required at the link below. The event will begin with a ceremony for student award ceremony and a celebration of recent graduates from Classics. The lecture will follow.

84th Josephine Earle Memorial Lecture

Friday, May 13, 5-7pm

"Aesthetic Hierarchies in Greek Comedy"

Ralph Rosen, Professor of Classical Studies (University of Pennsylvania)

Register at this link:

https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZ0tcOCprD8sHNN9TMpKixBXOiljw9H3zrag

View full article. | Posted in Conferences, Lectures, and Meetings on Fri, 05/06/2022 - 9:07am by .

(Dedicated to the 30th Anniversary of Greece-Georgia Diplomatic Relations)

The Institute of Classical, Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies of Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University (Georgia) is pleased to announce the Call for Papers of the International Student Conference “Contemporaneity of Antiquity” to be held in hybrid mode (via ZOOM and face-to-face) on June 6-8, 2022.

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Thu, 04/28/2022 - 9:36am by .
"Empty Theatre (almost)"by Kevin Jaako, licensed under CC BY 2.0

Theater in Greece and Rome (TIGR), a committee affiliated with The Classical Association of the Middle West and South (CAMWS), invites proposals for a workshop to be held under TIGR’s sponsorship at the 119th CAMWS Annual Meeting, March 29-April 1, 2023 in Provo, Utah, at the Provo Marriot Hotel and Conference Center at the invitation of The Utah Classical Association.

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Tue, 04/26/2022 - 12:16pm by Helen Cullyer.
"Empty Theatre (almost)"by Kevin Jaako, licensed under CC BY 2.0

Anne Carson’s Euripides: Six Takes on The Trojan Women (2021) and H of H (2021)

When: 11am-1pm CDT, Friday, April 29th, 2022

Where: Virtual (Zoom)

An online event organized by Laura Jansen (Bristol), Sarah Nooter (Chicago) and Mario Telò (Berkeley)

View full article. | Posted in Performances on Fri, 04/22/2022 - 10:01am by .

Third Annual Conference: Temple/Carleton Consortium on Women, Marriage and the Household from Antiquity to the Present: An Interdisciplinary, Global Conference 

WOMEN AND RITUAL ACTS

When: May 12-14, 2022

Where: Temple University Rome: Lungotevere Arnaldo da Brescia, 15 and Virtual participation available via Zoom

Co-DirectorsKaren Klaiber Hersch and Jaclyn Neel

View full article. | Posted in Conferences, Lectures, and Meetings on Wed, 04/20/2022 - 10:44am by .

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