Thursday, July 12, 2012

Forging a Centurion, Part VIII

In the spring of 1998, my wife and I decided to move back home to Indiana. It was a moved prompted by the move of a pastor friend of ours with whom we were involved in ministry. When we found out he had accepted a call to Indianapolis, we looked at each other and knew it was time to move.

My first move was to call Bernie Barcio, a legend in the Latin world. His Pompeiiana organization was based in Indianapolis, so I started by putting out the word with him that we were moving back and would need a job. In short order, I received a call from Kathy Lattimer, department chair of foreign languages at North Central High School. She described a teaching schedule that was identical to the one I had in Austin. I was soon on a plane to interview.

I was thrilled at my initial meeting with principal C.E. Quandt, who had studied Latin for four years at Indiana University. When he led me upstairs to meet with Kathy and I saw Latin For Americans textbooks, the book I had used in high school, I knew I was home.

The program I inherited had Latin I, Latin II, a very small class of Latin III with four boys, and a class in etymology. Over the years, the Latin program grew, and I soon had to drop etymology. Although I have been blessed to teach classes in Critical Thinking and Theory of Knowledge, a required class for the International Baccalaureate diploma, the Latin program has continued to grow to the point that, at the writing of this post, we have seen enrollments at the two hundred mark, necessitating twice the hiring of a second Latin teacher.

During those years, the North Central Latin students have consistently had award-winning performances at the annual Indiana State Junior Classical League Latin Convention, and on the National Latin Exam, with multiple gold and silver medals and several perfect scores. Our students have developed community service projects such as Reading the War on Poverty and Fabrica Ursam. The former project sees us reading aloud the Iliad, the Odyssey, or the Aeneid in its entirety at a local bookstore to raise money to help fight poverty in our area. The latter has our students creating teddy bears at Build-a-Bear, writing individualized fables for each one, and delivering them to children at Riley Hospital for Children.

At North Central, I have had the incredible pleasure of working with many wonderful students, supervising four student teachers (making a total of five in my career), mentoring new teachers to our school, and continuing my own academic efforts with the publication of Latin for Dummies (German edition Latein fur Dummies) and Achilles in Rome: The Latin Iliad of Baebius Italicus, along with two translation of Aquinas (here and here) and articles on certamen, Latin III and A.P. projects, Latin haiku (two total, one here), translation in the classroom, philosophy of mind, and an exploration of the concept of work in Vergil's Aeneid.

This stage of my career has truly been the best of both worlds, for I have been able to engage in my academic passions and my passion to teach, while watching both those worlds affect the other. I would have expected this pattern of teaching and publishing to continue much as it has, and indeed I do expect to see it progress that way, but in the fall of 2010 I applied for a grant that would add a significant new path that would intertwine with the other two. That, however, will be the subject of the next post.

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