Who would have thought that a junior high school assistant principal could have had such a profound effect? In New Albany, Indiana, the town where I grew up, my junior high served 7th, 8th, and 9th grades, and so it was at the end of my 8th grade year I signed up to study German the following fall. A scheduling problem developed over the summer, and the assistant principal of Hazelwood Junior High School, Mr. Edwin "Skip" Ellmers, called my parents to suggest an alternative. He recommended taking Latin, but I would have to walk a few blocks each day to New Albany High School in order to do so. He made the recommendation because he wanted me to have the opportunity to experience the Latin teacher, Miss Alice Ranck, who had been such a great influence in his own daughter's life. My parents and I talked it over, and we agreed for me to take Latin the coming fall.
As it turned out, I did not have Miss Ranck for Latin I, but Joyce Woller. She was a fine teacher, and a friend of mine, Mark Hawkins, and I walked each day from Hazelwood to NAHS and back again so we could study Latin. It turned out to be a life-changing decision.
I studied Latin for four years, grades 9-12, majored in Classical Studies at Indiana University, and went on to earn a Masters Degree in Classics from The University of Texas. I met my wife in Latin prose composition class at I.U., have taught Latin for more than twenty years at every level from middle school through undergraduate, have published numerous articles and books related to Classics, and now have the opportunity to share ancient history via my various Roman personas.
In upcoming posts, I will share more about the Latin teachers and Classics programs from whom I have been blessed to learn. For now, I would like to thank Mr. Ellmers for calling the family of an 8th grader one summer to make a scheduling suggestion. That phone call has touched countless lives.