Latin Teacher Puts Grants to Work for Students
Wicomico Schools Latin Teacher Tamara Kantzes Puts $2,000 Grants for Summer Learning to Work for Students
Posted on 09/13/2016
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Latin teacher Tamara Kantzes of Wicomico County Public Schools has received $2,000 in grants from the Classical Association of the Atlantic States over the past two years to support her in attending two Latin summer immersion camps sponsored by the North American Institute for Living Latin Studies, the National Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling Conference, and the American Classical League Institute. She attended the American Classical League Institute in Austin, Texas in June. She is now putting what she has learned at the summer immersion camps to use in her classes.

Kantzes and her colleague, Stefanie Neal, teach Latin to nearly 200 students in Wicomico County high schools. Students may enroll in Latin I, II, III or IV, and may take the Advanced Placement (AP) exam in Latin if they choose. For a number of years Wicomico County provided eighth-graders the opportunity to start Latin at Bennett Middle School, but due to Latin enrollment increases in high schools the middle school program is no longer offered. Juniors who started Latin at Bennett Middle and are in Latin IV this year will have the chance to take AP Latin in their final year.

Over the course of the past few years, Kantzes and Neal have moved away from traditional methods of teaching Latin and now teach Latin as an active, living language. By teaching Latin in Latin through reading, storytelling, and other understandable ways, more students succeed in acquiring Latin and enjoy the language experience. In fact, the upper level Latin students have internalized enough Latin that they are able to discuss Latin literature in Latin. 

Successful completion of two or more years of Latin fulfills the Maryland career preparation requirement for specializing in a world language, Career & Technology Education program, or Advanced Technology coursework. More importantly, the study of Latin supports students in preparing for college and career. Latin language study increases their knowledge of English vocabulary, which in turn makes them better readers, writers, and speakers, and improves their verbal skills for standardized tests like the SAT. Latin students become better listeners as they attend to what is being communicated in Latin. They become aware of technical language of various professions such as medicine, law, and science, and develop a better understanding of how Latin influences English, Spanish, French and Italian. Students reflect on influential writings from the past that still speak to us today. They examine products, practices, and perspectives that are different from their own, read mythology and other literature that was influential in European and American literature, and study Roman civilization and the lessons which its multicultural society have to teach us today.

Outside of the classroom, students may participate in the National Junior Classical League, a nationwide extracurricular club for students studying Latin. Students who excel in the study of Latin and are active in the Junior Classical League may earn membership each year in the National Latin Honor Society.