Veni, vidi, vici. – Gaius Iulius Caesar
Somerset Virtual Academy
I was extended a tremendous opportunity to be a part of the foundation of a new, web-based solution for our series of schools, the Somerset Virtual Academy. Initially I was given three courses to teach online, Latin I, World History (and World History Honors), and World Geography. I was responsible for the administration of those courses, grading all assessments from students, and keeping in touch with students in an online environment.
Along the course of our first ever run, I was also asked to give feedback and consultation on various issues that we needed to tackle in order to get SVA to run smoothly and develop protocols as a result.
Currently, I am teaching the second half of the Latin I course while also guiding the completion of World History Honors.
Latin Teacher and Program Director, AP Teacher
Somerset Academy at Chapel Trail
In an interview for positions with Somerset Academies, I was selected to start a pioneering Latin program at the Chapel Trail campus by principal Bernardo Montero. The vision was simple, begin a Latin program that could be used by both the middle school and high school students. It was my charge to launch this program at a school that had no tradition of classical education nor was there much of a background at the school for learning Latin.
Our first year was met with great success. I was able to start with two Latin classes of over 25 students each using a natural methodology in the acquisition of Latin. The students were very enthusiastic about learning the language and about the culture of the Romans, and interest is only gaining ground. In our second year, 2010-2011, we expanded our offerings with Latin II in addition to our Latin I courses; for the middle school we are also going to be shifting into M/J Latin Beginner while using a new series of textbooks, the Cambridge Latin Course.
Initially at Somerset, it was necessary for me to teach other subjects in order to qualify for a full-time teaching position. In my first year, I also taught World Geography, US History, and Art History. It was here that I also taught AP Art History for the first time, and with my group of students we were able to exceed the national average for passing the AP exam. Truly a proud accomplishment for our program and for our school.
During my second year at Somerset, I also took on the challenge of adding new courses to my repertoire. In addition to teaching Latin I, M/J Latin Beginning, and AP Art History, we added Latin II this year and I also took on a second AP course, AP European History. Next year, in 2011-2012, I will also be adding Latin III and an Introduction to Philosophy course as well.
In 2009-2010, I was also extended the tremendous opportunity of being more involved in the administration of the school – I was awarded the position of department chair. This enabled me to become more involved in the development of curricula within the school as well as within our department. I also initiated the exploration of other means to teach foreign languages and cultures, such as possibly implementing Rosetta Stone software on a campus-wide perspective.
In 2010-2011, I sponsored a few clubs in addition to my teaching duties. I founded our school’s chapter of the National Junior Classical League, while also serving as sponsor for National Junior Honor Society. I also was able to formulate two trips abroad for the upcoming summers, Italy in 2012 and Turkey and Greece in 2013. I will be attending the AP Conference this summer in San Francisco and was also awarded funding to study this summer in Rome at the American Classical League’s Rome in Situ 2011 workshop.
August 2007-June 2009
Doctors Charter School of Miami Shores
While at Doctors Charter School, I went from being one of two teachers in the department to becoming its lone instructor. The charter for the school mandated that Latin be taken by our middle school students in 7th grade and 8th grade and continued in back to back succession during their high school careers. Due to budget concerns and the difficulty of the current administration to hire another qualified candidate, a decision was made to cut back the Latin program from 11 classes to only 6. This meant that the introductory and beginning level courses were dramatically reduced.
As far as course offerings, I taught an Introduction to Latin course, Latin I, Latin II, and Latin III. Looking forward to the next school year, there is a plan to suspend the Latin program which means development of the program and extending its courses into advanced placement and honors will also be put on hold.
I was able to successfully transition the program to new course materials during my tenure. Last year, the program was centered around Jenney’s First Year Latin. Yet my feeling is that the grammar approach was not well-suited for today’s teenager and the fast paced world we live in. Instead, I decided to transition to tools which use a more natural methodology, utilizing the Cambridge Latin Course (Unit I) and the Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata texts by Hans H. Orberg.
The change was met with great enthusiasm as students felt less encumbered with memorizing paradigms and instead were able to focus on reading, speaking and writing in Latin. Overall proficiency increased however, due to budget concerns, we will not be able to administrate the National Latin Exam this year which would have given us more hard data to assess the transition.
The National Latin Exam was administered last year with a 100% participatory rate and the same level of expectation was going to be carried out this year.
Also, I was able to plan and manage Nox Latina, a course-wide production which entailed the creation of projects and plays all geared towards showcasing to parents and the rest of the community the benefits of the study of Latin. Prizes were donated and awarded to the winning participants in a science-fair styled production whereby students had to create projects based on mythology. The projects had multiple parts which consisted of designing a poster board and faux-archaeological artifacts all inspired by a mythological creature of the students’ choosing.
In order to better facilitate student interest and education outside of the classroom, I created the website Romae.org. The site was used as a source to develop projects, generate research, practice composing conversations in Latin, and even used to give assessments. Further development is planned for the site to turn it into a “supersite” which can be utilized by instructors from all institutions and their students.
In addition to all of this, I regularly maintained a “Latin Lab” on Thursdays after school so that students could attend and get even more help in regards to their Latin studies. I would conduct a very informal session where students would practice and teach each other as I would guide them in both their teaching and learning. I believe an active understanding of a language is the only way to truly master the language and the most efficient way to achieve that is through teaching.