Thursday, November 15, 2018

Susan Meyer of Culbreth Middle School, Chapel Hill, SCS 2018 Award for Excellence in Teaching

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 in 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.”

Sunday, October 7, 2018

NCCA at FLANC Fall 2018

FLANC logo The FLANC Fall Conference will be in RDU on October 19-20, 2018.

NCCA Sessions. Saturday, October 20. Sheraton Imperial Hotel, 4700 Emperor Blvd. Durham, NC 27703.

1. Christy Tucker. Covenant Day School, Mathews NC. "Blended Methodologies and CI Experiments: The Latin Teacher as Mad Scientist"
Teachers can often get stuck in their ways, but experimentation with classroom activities, assessment formats, and the incorporation of co-curricular activities into classroom learning will increase student interest, decrease boredom, and bring more energy and joy into the classroom. This presentation will explore how experimenting with new methods and taking risks with your teaching style can greatly benefit both teachers and students.

2. Thomas Taylor. The Oakwood School, Greenville NC. "March Like a Roman: Teaching Ancient Roman Culture, Discipline, and Teamwork Through Project-Based Learning"
Project-based learning in Latin is the perfect tool for the transmission of cultural literacy. Using this approach, teachers are able to engage (and even entertain!) their students in learning first hand the cultural aspects of ancient Rome. In this session, participants will experience tested examples of project-based learning as well as delve into the reasoning and expected results of this methodology. Participants will also be urged to share any project based learning they incorporate into their own classroom.

3. Steve Hill. J.H. Rose High School, Greenville NC. "Visual Thinking Strategies Intersecting Latin and History"
Connecting art and Latin to strengthen students' understanding of U.S. History using the Visual Thinking Strategies method ( and Thinglink ( example: Referencing the history of Rome, along with Roman words and phrases, helps students deepen their understanding of historical trends, events, and philosophies. There can sometimes be an intellectual chasm between academic disciplines within schools, which can be bridged by showing the connections between Art, Latin and history. The same can sometimes be true of the Latin classroom, which can benefit from making connections to U.S. History. Students can also be taught these techniques to present their research.

Lunch and Business Meeting

4. Lisa Ellison. East Carolina University "De-centering the GradeBook: Using Project-based Learning and Peer Feedback to Engage Students at a Deeper Level"
Instead of exams & essays, I asked one of my culture & civilization classes to make creative projects one semester. The kind of project they created was up to them, but it was in some way to connect their own lives to the aspects of ancient Greece we were studying. In this 60+ person class, students then shared their projects with their groups and voted for a winner. I'll talk about that semester, and share creative projects from other more traditional classes as well.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Mary Pendergraft ACL President, and WFU Hosts CAMWS-SS

The Department of Classics at Wake Forest University is also hosting the 98th Annual Meeting of the Southern Section of the Classical Association of the Middle West and South on October 18-20, 2018. The Conference is being held at the Hawthorne Inn and Conference Center, 420 High St. SW, in downtown Winston-Salem.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

CAMWS Teaching Awards 2018

Jeanne Neumann  of Davidson College

Since her graduation from Union College in 1976 (with Honors, Phi Beta Kappa), Jeanne Neumann has been teaching Latin. She taught in schools for over a decade, until she decided to pursue her doctorate at Harvard. From there she began teaching at Davidson in 1994, where she continues to be a life-changing teacher. "Dr. Neumann is the one professor who has most influenced my life and the reason that I am pursuing my PhD in Classics today," writes a former student. Another reports that after his first course with her, he decided that he too would write a dissertation on Horace's Epistles 1, despite the fact that he hadn't read them. What kind of teaching leads to responses like these? A colleague describes Jeanne's contribution to a team-taught course in the western tradition:

She encouraged her audience to consider the possibility of a lifelong relationship with texts such as the Aeneid, and she told how she had been drawn to different parts of the poem at different stages of her life. Finally, Jeanne managed to address her audience as humans concerned with fundamental questions much like those dogging Aeneas, Virgil, and other figures. In contrasting Aeneas and Achilles, Jeanne referred to Aeneas's deep sense of duty, and she referred to him as "a good man trying to do good" -- a description that might separate him from Achilles but that links him to countless students at Davidson. Over the course of fifty minutes, Jeanne cast the Aeneid as essential to the course but also as potentially momentous for individual students in individual ways, long after "The Western Tradition" ends.

Students say that "Dr. Neumann is an excellent teacher in everything she teaches, but she shines most in those subjects that are slightly outside her comfort zone-her love of learning shows her students that learning doesn't stop when you have your degree in hand." They value her willingness to tackle new topics and to become a learner along with the rest of the class. That characteristic showed itself in Jeanne's two Classics Semesters Abroad, where (after making all the travel arrangements) she makes clear to her students that much of what they saw and experienced was new to her, too. Similarly she leads legendary Latin sight-reading groups on Fridays and, like her students, approaches the texts cold.

Her care for students leads her to develop reading lists for their summer months, and even to coach them on dress and comportment. She's the obvious mentor for new or visiting faculty members in her department. Many people know Jeanne best as a long-time advocate of living Latin, a Fellow of Academia Latinitati Fovendae in Rome, and a former member of the board of SALVI. To meet her students' needs and to encourage other instructors in the classroom use of Latin she has developed Companions for Hans ├śrberg's first two volumes, works that in the words of a reviewer, do "everything necessary to adapt to present-day needs" a fifty-year-old textbook. Unexpectedly, they have made her famous in home-schooling communities. She has made presentations on this and similar topics to a host of student and teacher groups.

Her commitment to the good of her department has led this passionate Latinist to reimagine their introductory Greek sequence, and currently she is teaching the second iteration of a double class, covering the work of two semesters in one. Greek enrollments, shrinking everywhere, have begun to grow under her care. While her service to Davidson College and to our profession is significant, I single out her term as President of the North Carolina Classical Association, because that group's motto is docendo discimus -- through teaching, we learn. As her students and colleagues have made clear, Jeanne Neumann lives this truth.

Jessie Craft, Glenn High School, Winston-Salem, NC

Jessie Craft's first degree was in Italian. Soon he realized that his true vocation lay with us as a Latin teacher: He earned his second B. A. at the University of North Carolina in Greensboro, this time in Latin with teacher certification, and he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.

Since 2013 he has taught full time, and currently serves two schools in Winston-Salem NC. To quote one of his colleagues, "Glenn is a disadvantaged high school with about 50% of its population receiving free or reduced lunch. Mt. Tabor serves a more diverse population ranging from the economically disadvantaged to the wealthy. Regardless of the population, Jessie takes into account every student that he teaches." At each of these very different schools he teaches LAT 1-4, sponsors a JCL chapter and a Latin honor society-and also one AP course. He began "meeting his students where they are" by designing Minecraft projects on Roman architecture-think Legos online. Jessie reflects, "Over the past five years I have lost four Latin students to suicide or gang violence. Statistically speaking, this is not the usual demographic to sign up for Latin. While Minecraft was bringing more students into my class, the language elements were still troublesome for me and my kids. To expose my kids to educated and reflective discourse, I looked to ancient philosophy, and thus was born the Quote of the Day." This short opportunity for reflection is what many former students cite as the most meaningful part of the class.

Jessie recognized that they were still not meeting his goal of learning Latin, and to remedy that lack he turned to research on second language learning and the use of comprehensible input. Because he persisted in the belief that he must meet all his students where they are, he individualized classroom materials. Says one student, "He faced yet another difficult scenario, having Latin III, Latin IV, and AP Latin students in a hybrid class, and again he took the time to evaluate each student and provide materials to best suit his or her ability level, some of which he had created himself, embedded with readings of authentic texts. I have never observed the same determination to ensure that each student is learning and being challenged according to their individual abilities in any other teacher." "He creates videos in Latin to both assist in Latin understanding and teach about various elements of Roman culture, which are both engaging and helpful as they again immerse students in actually hearing the language, not just reading it," writes another.

"Jessie's students are not the only beneficiaries," reports a colleague. "At our monthly Professional Learning Team (PLT) meetings, Jessie influences those of us with thirty years' experience as much as those with two months'. Members continually seek his advice. Our district has not adopted a new Latin text in more than twenty years; consequently, we find ourselves limited to stilted adapted passages. Jessie has begun writing level appropriate texts, which include embedded readings of authentic texts, for all levels of Latin."

Teachers and students far from North Carolina have access to many of these fine resources online, at and on YouTube at DivusMagisterCraft.

For his passionate and unstinting efforts on behalf of students at all levels of Latin and all family backgrounds, and his generosity in sharing the fruits of his labor, we salute Jessie Craft.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

CAMWS Southern Section, Oct. 18-20, 2018


    The 96th Annual Meeting of the Classical Association of the Middle West and South - Southern Section will be held Thursday-Saturday, October 18-20, 2018 in Winston-Salem, NC at the Hawthorne Inn and Conference Center, at the invitation of Wake Forest University. Proposals for workshops/panels and individual papers on any aspect of Graeco-Roman antiquity are now being accepted. Especially welcome are submissions likely to be of broad interest, including those concerned with pedagogy.
     Panels/workshops, especially those on pedagogical and performative topics, are especially welcome. Teachers and students at any level of instruction (K-12, college, or university) may submit proposals. All proposals for workshops/panels and individual papers must be received by 11:59 p.m. on Monday, June 4, 2018.
     All proposals for panels, workshops and individual papers will be judged anonymously by the Program Committee, chaired by CAMWS-SS Secretary-Treasurer T. Davina McClain. An individual may deliver no more than one paper at the meeting and may submit no more than one abstract. A person is free to organize a panel in addition to presenting a paper (whether in his/her own panel or in another session). Anyone presenting on a panel or submitting a proposal for an individual paper at CAMWS-SS 2018 cannot also be a presenter in a panel/workshop.
     All abstracts must be double-spaced and typed in 12-point Times New Roman font. Indent first lines of paragraphs, set a 1-inch margin on all sides, and center the title at the top of the page. Enter any non-Roman text using Unicode. Use abbreviated (author-date) citations; at the end of each abstract or panel description provide a list of works cited. The combined length of the abstract (or panel/workshop description) and its list of works cited must not exceed 800 words. Abstracts for workshops should describe the general goals of the workshop, the roles played by each presenter and expectations of the audience. Authors of abstracts and organizers of panels are not to be identified by name anywhere in their proposals.
     The maximum time allotted for an individual paper is 15 minutes. A workshop can be either sixty or ninety minutes in length. Requests for audio-visual equipment must be made at the time the abstract is submitted. Because LCD projectors are expensive to rent, please request them only when absolutely necessary. Individuals must provide their own laptop computers and adapter cables. Access to the internet IS AVAILABLE in the meeting rooms of the hotel, but backups on flashdrives/harddrives are recommend.
     Please submit all proposals electronically at for individual papers and for workshop proposals at If, for some reason, electronic submission is not possible, please contact the CAMWS office at
     All presenters and organizers are required to be members of CAMWS at the time they submit their abstracts. Membership dues may be paid at by credit card (with a processing fee) or by mailing a check along with a membership form to CAMWS, Department of Classics, Monmouth College, 700 E. Broadway, Monmouth, IL 61462 (office 309-457-2284; fax 815-346-2565; Please keep in mind that submission of an abstract is a commitment to present the paper in person.

RECEIPT DEADLINES: Monday, June 4, 2018 (panels and individuals).

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Spring Meeting 2018

March 17, 2018
Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem NC
Tribble Hall, A303

10:00-10:30 Registration

10:30-11:20 "The Persian Navy and the Battle of Marathon" Anthony Papalas (ECU)

11:20-12:10 "Crisis and Triumph in Caesar's De Bello Gallico" Luca Grillo (UNC-CH)

12:10-1:00 Box lunch (provided) and business meeting

1:00-1:50 "Between Nature and Art: Exercitatio in Cicero's View of the Liberal Arts" Brian Hook (UNC-A)

1:50-2:40 "The Visigothic Horde and the Problem of Conquest" Jason Osborne (USC)

For interested K-12 educators, a certificate will be provided indicating that this conference provides 3 1/3 contact hours of scholarly talks in the field of Classics and 0.33 Continuing Education units (CEU) in an academic subject area of World Languages.

(Note: Local Education Agencies (LEAs) or districts and charter schools must approve professional development offerings.)

» Campus / Parking Map of Wake Forest University

To register, please complete this Membership Form for our records and mail a check for $25 payable to the North Carolina Classical Association. Send to our Treasurer: Temple Eller, 7 Winterberry Ridge Ct., Greensboro NC 27407 (payment by check also accepted the day of)