Thursday, May 22, 2014

Icing on the Cake

What do you love most about teaching?  As much as I love a scintillating conversation with engaged students about Latin grammar, Greek philosophy, Ciceronian oratory, or Vergilian poetry, the over-the-top-blow-my-mind-make-my-heart-swell-to-the-point-it-will-explode thrill for me is telling parents the amazing things I see in their children.

Last night was our annual Latin Club awards dinner.  On the surface, it is a humble, albeit large, affair.  One hundred forty students, parents, and siblings met in our school's cafeteria for pizza and pop.  It was not exactly haute cuisine, but food was not our focus.  We assembled so that once again I could I distribute seemingly endless local, state, and national awards that our students had won for their work in academics, art, and dramatic competitions, all related to the languages and cultures of ancient Greece and Rome.

Yet for all the pyrotechnic honors of National Latin Exam and the National Junior Classical League Latin Honor Society, the thrill beyond compare for me was in talking directly with parents.  When I tell parents how much I have enjoyed having their son or daughter in class, what extraordinary contributions he or she has made to class discussions, or how I see leadership qualities developing in him or her, I see a sparkle in their eyes.  It is the sparkle of appreciation that someone outside their family sees what they see.  It is the sparkle of surprise that someone outside their family sees what they have never seen.  It is the sparkle that represents what they and I both feel toward these amazing young

What are the highlights of the school year for me?  There is back-to-school night.  Yes, it makes for a long day, but I absolutely love meeting parents and sharing with them all the things their children have already been doing and the prospects for the year ahead.  There are the letters of recommendation.  Now these are truly fun!  I get to put on paper the phenomenal achievements and qualities that I have seen developing in the young people who will lead the world.  There is our awards dinner.  What is the unifying factor in the highlights of the school year for me?  It is the opportunity to share with others the amazing, extraordinary, breathtaking abilities and, even more importantly, character, of the young people with whom I am blessed to spend my working life.

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