Good afternoon, I’m Meredith Safran, Senior At Large Member of CANE, and it’s my pleasure to celebrate the winner of this year’s Matthew I. Wiencke Award for excellence in teaching at the K-12 level, Matthew Katsenes.
Matt Katsenes’ teaching career began while he was an undergraduate student at Monmouth College, where Matt performed so well in his “Understanding Spoken Latin” course that professor Tom Sienckewicz recalls asking Matt to help present this course to Latin teachers at the Illinois Classical Conference. This included Matt administering a Latin dictation exercise to participants who included his own high school Latin teacher! After enrolling in an MA program in Math at the University of Iowa, Matt enrolled in the MAT Latin program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Since fall 2012, he has taught at Moultonborough Academy in New Hampshire.
One of Matt’s colleagues at Moultonborough, Julianne Bruneau, writes that “Matt prepares more courses than most other teachers because he single-handedly must teach all six grades in a five-period day. … Matt’s students are always doing something fascinating, be it composing elegies for a lost childhood object, reading aloud and parsing a text about werewolves, or copying favorite aphorisms in calligraphy to understand how scribes labored to create the manuscripts that survive for us to read today.”
Matt’s collaborator Emma Vanderpool praises his “bold transition from using solely the reading method to now using comprehensible input activities and spoken Latin in the classroom.” Matt and Emma created eutropi.us, a digital commentary on excerpts from Eutropius’ Breviarium Historiae Romanae, which helps build students’ linguistic and cultural knowledge for the AP Latin curriculum. He has also piloted a new series of novellas for Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers. Emma observes that Matt’s own appetite for self-improvement as an educator has embraced discussing issues of representation and how to integrate anti-racist work into curricula.
Matt’s ingenuity and dedication have translated into an exciting and rich classroom experience for his students. Julianne Bruneau calls “the noise and movement and enthusiasm in his classroom… a complete delight and exactly how serious learning gets done.” She continues “I am impressed by how gentle and encouraging Matt is with his students while at the same time being relentlessly exacting about making sure they get the whole answer and can explain it. … His students are medalists in the National Latin Exam every year and he continues to attract students to Latin, well past the stage when they would normally begin a language. Matt is the kind of teacher who inspires life-long learning.” Emma Vanderpool added her recollection from the 2016 National Convention of Eta Sigma Phi. After Matt spoke as part of the keynote panel about his unusual route to becoming a Latin teacher, a student approached Emma to share how Matt had inspired her to teach.
Another Moultonborough colleague, Amy Flanders, sums up Matt’s excellence well: “Personally and academically, Matt is so present in and valuable to his students’ lives. He can relate to, challenge, and engage everyone… It is Matt’s nature to embrace differences. Matt alone has unassumingly done for our students at Moultonborough what it took Sheldon and three other scientists on NBC to do at a million dollars an episode: make it ultra cool to be smart, funny, and genuine…in other words, be yourself.”
Please join me in celebrating Matt Katsenes’ embodiment of the qualities that have earned him CANE’s 2021 Wiencke Award.