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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CAAS ARC Workshop: Diversity Policies are for Everyone

When: Saturday, March 19, 2022 - 11:00AM EDT

Where: Virtual (via Zoom)

The Antiracism Committee (ARC) of The Classical Association of the Atlantic States (CAAS) is organizing another workshop on diversity policies. Through a series of case studies, this workshop will explore ways to create and improve on diversity policies so that they can be more helpful to BIPOC students and scholars. We’ll be meeting on Saturday, March 19, 2022 at 11am EDT via Zoom. This workshop is free and open to anyone who registers.

If you’d like to register, you can fill out this form:  https://forms.gle/C5KMYK7nB3FQRVXr8

If you have any questions about the workshop, please email David Wright: djwrig85@gmail.com. See also attached flyer and share widely! Hope to see you there!

View full article. | Posted in Conferences, Lectures, and Meetings on Mon, 03/07/2022 - 3:04pm by .

Call for Proposals: CAAS 2022 Annual Meeting

The Classical Association of the Atlantic States

Dates: October 6-8, 2022

Venue: HOTEL DU PONT, Wilmington, DE

Deadline for all proposals (individual papers, panels, workshops): (extended) Monday, March 28, 2022

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Mon, 03/07/2022 - 12:34pm by .

The Classics Program at Hunter College, City University of New York (CUNY), advertises its graduate programs in Latin education. These programs combine courses and mentoring in the vibrant environs of New York City. They aim to foster the ability to make Latin compelling to a diverse population of middle and high school students. Both programs lead to certification in New York State. Applications are accepted in both the Fall and the Spring. The deadline for applications to start in Fall 2022 is March 15th, 2022, but consideration may be made for later applications. 

  1. MA in Adolescent Education, Grades 7-12 – Latin

A 49 to 50-credit course sequence in Latin, Classics, and Education that prepares students to teach Latin in grades 7-12. This program is run jointly by the Classics Program in the School of Arts and Sciences and the School of Education.

View full article. | Posted in Degree and Certificate Programs on Fri, 03/04/2022 - 4:49pm by .

When you are standing at the edge of the Pontic steppe, where the Bug-Dnieper estuary melts into the Black Sea, there are three islands on the horizon. It can be difficult to see in the haze of late summer, which is when I was there last with two friends, Sam Holzman and Phil Katz.

Foremost is Berezan, once connected to the adjacent mainland. Long and flat-topped like a container ship, the largest of the handful of islands to rise from the Black Sea. It was settled by Ionians in the sixth century BCE, and has been all-but-continuously excavated since 1894.

A second island is artificial: across from the mainland town of Ochakiv lies the fortress isle of Pervomaisky. The Ottomans used the citadel at Ochakiv to control access to the river until it fell to John Paul Jones in service of the Empress Catherine in 1788. Pervomaisky was built up from a sandbar and fortified by Russia in the late nineteenth century. Both permanently blocked off the Dnieper as an invasion or slaving route to the forest steppe.

View full article. | Posted in on Thu, 03/03/2022 - 12:00pm by .

International Conferences of Novelty in Classics

1st ICoNiC: Audience Response in Ancient Greek and Latin Literature: Concepts, Contexts, Conflicts - Multiple Approaches to Author-Audience Relationship

02-03 September 2022 (virtual via MS Teams)

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Tue, 02/22/2022 - 8:30am by .

Between 6pm GMT on 31 May 2022 and the following evening, 1 June 2022, the Herodotus Helpline will be hosting the Herodotus Marathon. This is a non-stop, multilingual reading of Herodotus’ Histories. We are calling it the Marathon because we anticipate that it will take a little over 26 hours. Non-stop. Different readers will read their sections of the Histories via zoom, but it will be broadcast live (and recorded for posterity) on youtube. Readers will read in their native languages (or in ancient Greek, if they prefer).

To reflect Herodotus’ huge reach, we are looking for readers from the widest possible range of backgrounds (and the widest possible range of native tongues). Readers will include: scholars and students of Herodotus, celebrities with an interest or background in antiquity, or members of the general public with an interest in the ancient world - all are welcome!

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Tue, 02/22/2022 - 8:04am by .

Interdisciplinary Humanities 

Fall/Winter 2022 issue: Myth and Art

Deadline for Submissions: March 31, 2022

Guest Editors: Edmund Cueva and Anna Tahinci

[Journal published by parent organization - HERA (Humanities Education and Research Association) at UTEP (University of Texas at El Paso)]

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Tue, 02/22/2022 - 7:41am by .
NEH seal

The Hill School and Valencia College invite applications to the NEH Institute, Timeless Parallels: Veteran Voices and Classical Literature

Eligibility:

This program is open to all secondary school teachers of Latin, Ancient Greek, English, or History.

Program Description:

This Institute will enable secondary school teachers to develop curriculum that draws parallels between the experience of veterans in the modern and ancient worlds, exploring such issues as homecoming and reintegration into civilian life; the treatment of veterans; the problem of war trauma and treatment of PTSD; and, the role of society in sharing the burdens of veteran experiences.

Program Costs:

View full article. | Posted in Summer Programs on Sun, 02/20/2022 - 8:47pm by Helen Cullyer.
Eta Sigma Phi owl logo

Eta Sigma Phi has extended the deadline for all three of its 2022 Summer Travel Scholarships to March 1:

The Theodore Bedrick Scholarship provides funding for a Vergilian Society Tour in Italy: https://www.etasigmaphi.org/scholarships/summer-travel/bedrick/

The Brent Malcolm Froberg Scholarship provides funding for the Summer Session of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens: https://www.etasigmaphi.org/scholarships/summer-travel/ascsa/

The America Academy in Rome scholarship provides funding for the AAR's Classical Summer School: https://www.etasigmaphi.org/scholarships/summer-travel/aar/

View full article. | Posted in Summer Programs on Sun, 02/20/2022 - 6:38pm by Helen Cullyer.
front face of restored Harry Wilks Study Center at Villa Vergiliana

Would you like to direct a tour or workshop for the Vergilian Society in 2024? 

Vergilian Society tours are designed to appeal to a wide range of travelers interested in the ancient Mediterranean.  Our programs welcome college students, instructors and nonprofessionals.

For 2024, we are particularly interested in tours of the ancient Mediterranean or study programs (such as Latin workshops) that are based at the Villa Vergiliana, a study center in the Bay of Naples, Italy. 

If you have any questions about proposal submissions, please contact the Chair of the Villa Management Committee, John Wonder, at jwwonder@sfsu.edu 

You'll find previous tour details at https://www.vergiliansociety.org/previous-tours/

View full article. | Posted in Organizations on Fri, 02/18/2022 - 11:50am by Helen Cullyer.

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