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Revised 1/6/2023

SCS is pleased to announce the award citations for this year's K-12 Teaching Prize Winners:

Maureen Lamb, The Ethel Walker School

Zachary Puckett, Lawrence High School and Free State High School

Click on the names above to read the full citations below:

Maureen Lamb

Maureen Lamb is a powerful, positive force both within her own classroom and within the field and has demonstrated her ability to continually expand her teaching toolkit while readily sharing her knowledge with others. In the interests of meeting student needs, she has changed her teaching practices, moving from traditional, grammar-translation methods to more reading-focused materials, and now to methods based on theories of Comprehensible Input and Second Language Acquisition; as one of her students remarked, Lamb is “constantly adapting.” Additionally, her focus on making sure that her classroom is inclusive and that her students “can find success and a sense of belonging” is backed by the impressive growth of her Latin programs. Not only has she dramatically increased the number of students in her Latin I classes, but her students succeed, and are active in events from the National Latin Exam to the CANE Writing Contest. One student praised not only her “dynamic and engaging” teaching style but also her integration of different digital resources and the inclusion of different perspectives of people from different backgrounds in their class readings. The student also praised Lamb’s ability to create a “tight-knit classroom community where students felt safe, respected, and able to be themselves authentically.”

Technology is constantly evolving and changing how teachers teach, and Lamb is ever at the forefront of this growing wave. Lamb’s understanding and utilization of technology in the classroom is demonstrated by her position at her current school, The Ethel Walker School in Simsbury, CT, where she is not only a Latin teacher but also the Dean of Technology and Innovation. In this position, she offers professional development and instructional coaching to her colleagues and offers student instruction as well. Her knowledge and expertise are further underlined by her most recent accolade, the 2022 ACTFL/IALLT Award for Excellence in World Language Instruction Using Technology which recognizes excellence in the integration and use of technology in world language instruction at the K-12 level.

Outside of the classroom, Lamb is an active member of regional and national Classical and World Language organizations. She widely shares her teaching knowledge and expertise at regional and national conferences, and she offers online courses through Idioma Education and Consulting. The graduate-level courses she offers there provide Latin teachers an opportunity to experience pedagogy courses focused specifically on Latin and the ancient world, regardless of their location. In addition to being a leader in Latin teaching circles, Lamb also shares her expertise on integrating technology within the classroom and on neurodiversity and inclusivity. The latter is demonstrated by her most recent work with the Cambridge University Press blog series on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. As shown by such work, Lamb has not only grown an exceptional set of pedagogical knowledge and tools but joyfully and excitedly shares her resources with other Latin teachers.

We, the members of the award selection committee for SCS, are delighted to recognize Maureen Lamb for her outstanding teaching and contributions to pedagogical development with the SCS’s 2022 Award for Excellence in Teaching of the Classics at the K-12 Level.

Zachary Puckett

“Zach works to foster a love of Latin at a broader level in the region and beyond;” this is one of many statements in the dossier of Zachary Puckett, formerly a teacher of Latin at Lawrence High School and Free State High School in Lawrence, KS, that demonstrates the sense of community that Puckett fosters through his teaching and service. His students’ letters were very persuasive in painting a picture of his classroom environment and commitment to the discipline, and the many ways he creates enthusiasm and re-ignites interest in the ancient world among his students. Puckett’s successful teaching reflects a willingness to try a variety of methods to reach his students and keep the learning needs of his students at the forefront.

Puckett is committed to an inclusive classroom environment where everyone is welcome to learn Latin, and his teaching philosophy shows that student needs and emotional well-being are his top priority. This bears fruit: a significant percentage of his students advance to the next level of Latin study, and student engagement goes beyond the classroom to involvement in outside reading groups, workshops, and colloquia. Indeed, Puckett has contributed meaningfully to a regional Latin Colloquium hosted by KU: leading breakout sessions and giving presentations. He serves on a scholarship committee to support would-be Latin teachers, and he also hosts student-teachers in his classroom, ensuring that the next generation of teachers receives much-needed mentoring. All these aspects make it clear that Puckett keeps in touch with the wider field and exchanges ideas with other professionals for the benefit of his students.

The students in Puckett’s classes engage in the discipline in important ways: participating in events at the Kansas Junior Classical League, a convention he organized his school to host a few years ago. He encourages his students to accompany him on school trips to Rome and Pompeii to further integrate their knowledge; although the trips can be expensive, a recommender notes, “he helps work with students to make sure that money is not an issue, and that anyone who wants to go can do so.” Three of his former students happily wrote supportive letters, stating that they are now pursuing Classics in college due to his excellent teaching, but, more importantly, due to his consistent support and mentoring. Student success and recognition are the centerpiece of Puckett’s teaching, despite a demanding workload that requires him to teach, at times, two courses in the same period and to travel between two school campuses in his workday. It is, therefore, suitable to end this citation with the words of one his student recommenders: “he helped set me on my current path, and I know he has done the same for countless others. I can think of no teacher more deserving of this award.”

The SCS has recently learned that Zachary Puckett’s entire Latin program, in four junior high schools and two high schools, was cut by the Lawrence, KS school district, to the dismay of his many students and their parents. This was an unfortunate decision that was due to district-wide budget challenges. We, the members of the award selection committee for SCS, are delighted to recognize Zachary Puckett for his outstanding teaching and compassionate mentoring with the SCS’s 2022 Award for Excellence in Teaching of the Classics at the K-12 Level.

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