Monthly Archives: April 2016

On Traveling with Your Students

One week ago today, I, accompanied by one of my colleagues and ten of my students, was flying over the Atlantic.  Our destination was Rome, where we intended to spend the next week, only taking a couple of short day-trips out of the Eternal City to visit Pompeii and Ostia.  After a long flight, some dubious in-flight tortellini, and the wretched hell that is Heathrow, we arrived and immediately set out upon the finest educational excursion for which I have ever brought my students out of the country.
If you have the ability to do so, and if you believe there to be sufficient interest among your students (and, of course, their parents), you should absolutely seize the opportunity to launch a trip to Italy or Greece, as it will be (surprise, surprise!) of the greatest benefit to your Latin program.  I know that I try my best to make the ancient world come alive in my classroom, but no PowerPoint, even if crafted with an attention to detail usually reserved for cuckoo clocks and artisanal cheeses, can accomplish this task as effectively as standing in the calceus-prints of the Romans and seeing their monuments as they would have seen them — at least, as closely as one can do so after a couple millennia of wear-and-tear.  A textbook photo of a “Cave canem” mosaic cannot compare to seeing it on the floor of the entire house which decorated in Pompeii, nor can such a picture of Cicero’s bust compare to seeing it among countless other portraits in the Capitoline Museum.  If we are reading the tale of Manlius in class, I might adorn the board with some doodles of geese (one of the few animals I can actually draw with some competence; you’re out of luck if you need a horse); while we were in Rome, we read that text of Livy on the Capitoline, where the students could look down toward the city and imagine the stealthy approach of plunder-hungry Gauls.  Sadly, we encountered no geese, and had to make do with sacred pigeons instead.
Establishing a trip abroad, and making it a tradition, is also a strong means of maintaining and growing your Latin program.  Our trip is, in ideal circumstances, biennial, and is open only to those students currently enrolled in a Latin course.  The prospect of visiting to Rome has, in my experience, deterred at least a few students from dropping Latin in favor of Journalism or Macroeconomics.  Such a trip also draws the attention of parents to your program, and may be useful in persuading the administration of Latin’s importance among so many other course offerings.
If you are considering organizing an excursion for the first time, make certain that you ask your peers for some good recommendations for a travel agent or company.  While I’ve never had a bad experience with any company with whom I’ve traveled, I’ve had a couple of trips I’d classify as “meh.”  For our recent visit to Rome, we traveled with the Paideia Institute, and, as I stated above, my students found the trip immensely enjoyable, not just because they were able to see ancient monuments and eat gelato every day, but also because, with Paideia’s assistance, they were able to indulge in their own innate love of learning.  Speaking for myself, I would encourage anyone who might be interested to check out what they can offer you.  And as you speak to other Latin teachers, you will certainly be able to add to your list the names of other organizations, with whom they have had outstanding experiences.  While each person will differ in their preferred prices and destinations, everyone should seek to work with an agent or organization that shows substantial flexibility.  Above all else, you want to work with someone who is amenable to helping you build a trip that will fit your curriculum, rather than merely offering a pre-packaged itinerary.
(And, lastly, regarding the matter of trips not being cheap, hopefully everyone is aware that CANE offers some modest scholarships to traveling students through the Thomas and Eleanor Means Fund!)

Announcements for the Week of April 24th


  • See the CANE Annual Meeting 2016 folder for materials, presentations, or, to see what you missed at the Annual Meeting.  Requires a Google account to access the drive.


  • Connecticut’s State Latin Day is coming April 29th!
  • The Classical Association of Massachusetts‘ spring meeting will be held at Westwood High School on Saturday, May 7th.
  • If you’re interested in active Latin, but don’t have much (any) experience, and don’t want to have to commit to a week-long full immersion seminar or travel far distances, Express Fluency’s Latin Summer Intensive and/or Latin Teacher Training weekends are for you!  Held in lovely Burlington, VT, this Latin weekend is being held August 11-12 for $165 ($135 until May 1st; +$100 for the Latin Teacher Training seminar), and will be taught by Justin Slocum Bailey.  See Express Fluency‘s website for more details and to register.
  • Registration for SALVI’s Rusticationes Tirorum, Veteranorum, and their Pedagogy Seminar is now open for July 2016.  For more information, or to find out how to apply for the Amy High Fellowship, point your browser at  The beginner event is already waitlisted, but there is still room for Veteranorum and the Pedagogy Seminar.
  • The Boston Area Classics Calendar has a lot going on, and a weekly email digest of upcoming events.
  • If you live in the western Massachusetts, northern Connecticut, or southern Vermont area you may be interested in Amherst College’s list of upcoming lectures in the Pioneer Valley.


  • Live in western MA or northern CT and want to practice speaking in Latin? There is a large group that meets every Thursday at 7 p.m. in Hadley, MA! For details, contact TJ Howell.
  • In the Boston area? Check out the Active Latin Meetup page for events.

A New Latin Program: A Success Story!

We’re all used to hearing bad news: “Latin program being eliminated!”or….“I’m being reduced to half-time!”
In the current climate it’s important to hear some good news. I have some to share, and I encourage all of you to send me other positive stories to me so that I can share them to the rest of our CANE readers.
Plaistow, NH, located in southeastern New Hampshire (pop. 7600), is home to Timberlane Regional High School. About 1400 students attend Timberlane, but until this current year none of them could take Latin. That has changed. This year, six students are taking Latin in a pilot program under the guidance of new teacher and program builder, Michael (Mike) D’Angelo (University of New Hampshire, 2013). But it gets better; 25 students have so far signed up to take first-year Latin next year (and eight others will be taking “The Classical World”), and the school has made a commitment to support the program at least into the second year, and perhaps into the third. Right now, Mike is working with the administration to come up with the required standards for the Latin program, which bodes well for the future of Latin in Plaistow.
I had the pleasure of meeting the Principal, Don Woodworth, and Vice-Principal, Sandra Allaire, last December (2015). They graciously talked with me for over an hour and expressed excitement about adding Latin to their curriculum.  One of their motivations, naturally, was that Latin would add prestige to the school, but Don and Sandy also felt strongly that Latin had great potential to transform students’ academic lives.  When I had the honor of meeting the current students I learned that all of them were pleased that they had the chance to take this ancient language.  They told me that the highlight of their year came when the students summoned the courage (oh, to be young!) to contact Mary Beard and ended up having a 30-minute Skype session with the famous classicist!
Please send me any success stories that you know of, but also remember that my role is to help save programs in trouble—but we need to know as soon as possible to mobilize a response.

You may reach R. Scott Smith at the University of New Hampshire, Department of Classics, Humanities and Italian Studies
301 Murkland Hall, Durham, NH 03824 ; by telephone at 603.862.2388 (voice mail) and email,