From South Carolina, State Vice-President Cathy Castner reports a burgeoning of Latin programs at the elementary and junior high levels, especially in the Low Country, balanced by a continuing high number of vacancies at all levels.
This year was the first offering of a summer program which trains teachers in the lower grades to teach Latin. The College of Charleston won a grant from the Eisenhower Foundation to offer a Low Country Institute for Foreign Language teachers. Seven Latin teachers participated; another group of elementary school teachers interested in teaching Latin in the elementary schools were trained by Frank Morris of the College of Charleston, who calls the project Charleston Latin. Experts, including Marty Abbott from Virginia, presented materials on speaking and writing, reading and listening, lesson planning and block scheduling. The program is based on the Language Transfer project in Los Angeles, and its effects have already spread widely in the Low Country: in Georgetown County, every 6th grader has a course in Latin; a Latin teacher is teaching each of five 5th grade classes for nine weeks at Mt. Pleasant Academy; another is teaching at Drayton Hall Middle School; another teacher is teaching Latin at Berkeley High School to students in a school within a school who had dropped out; another is now teaching Latin at a private school in Estill; another in Hart Gap Middle School on the Sea Islands, which valued the experience so much that they hired a full time Latin teacher. The Low Country Institute for Language Teachers has just received news that they have been funded again for this summer. In a related piece of good news, all four of last year's College of Charleston graduates in Classics are teaching, two of them in Latin positions at Wando and Hart Gap.
Another Low Country event will be new in October 2001: the Cougar Certamen, to be held at Edisto High School, will be practice for the SCJCL Spring Forum.
Classics Day at the University of South Carolina was held October 18, 2000 and enjoyed a record turnout. Over 70 students and their teachers spent the day at USC in Columbia, sampling classes like What is Mythology? and 200 Years of Classics in the South. The students all heard a fascinating lecture by Professor Ralph Mathisen on Early Christianity, the Millennium, and the End of Time. The program was also connected to the Bicentennial of USC and Professor Ward Briggs told the visiting students about the curriculum required of entering freshmen 200 years ago, comprised mostly of Classics courses. Cathy Castner included in the announcements for Classics Day a letter to teachers and membership materials for CAMWS.
Declamation contests in South Carolina continue to include Latin among the languages and to attract Latin students. The Clemson declamation contest was held in October, and a new declamation contest will be held at Francis Marion this fall (2001). Charleston County will also hold a declamation contest including Latin.
South Carolina JCL again held the spring JCL Forum on March 10 at Stratford High School in Goose Creek, an example of cooperation between secondary and higher education as college and university professors judged the contests and examinations in which about 300 high school students fiercely competed. The Forum is being challenged recently, though, to include activities and competitions geared specifically to the lower grades, as Latin becomes more popular in 5th and 6th grades and junior high school.
In general, Latin is growing in the junior high and elementary grades, with a concomitant need to consider this age group in state-wide activities like Classics Day and the JCL Forum. There is a real need for some sort of clearinghouse for exchanging ideas for activities appropriate to this level.
Employment opportunities in teaching Latin in the secondary schools continue to outnumber the Latin teachers available for these jobs. Classicists at the university level continue to experience frustration at being called by desperate human resource people and having to tell them they don't know of anyone who can fill the vacancies in Latin. The benefits to teachers who take these jobs are many: South Carolina is a very pleasant place to live; our governor is intent on improving K-12 education and the state has put in place many financial incentives for good teachers. One can only hope that the pool of applicants will increase and these Latin positions will not go unfilled. At the present, the following schools have openings: Berkeley High School, Darlington High School, and Ashley Hall (Charleston). Schools reported unable to hire a Latin teacher although wishing to hire one to start a Latin program include: West Ashley High School, James Island High School, and St. John's High School in Charleston County. Several teachers indicated that their schools had reported the openings on the ACL Classics website but had not yet found applicants. In the Upstate, enrollments in Latin are holding their own because the situation there is somewhat static, there is not as desperate a need for teachers.
A related problem is that of certification in Latin. Although South Carolina suffers from a lack of certified teachers in all areas--a large number of teachers classified as out of field are teaching in all subjects--Latin is especially disadvantaged as there is no test that teachers must take to be certified in Latin. Teachers are presently certified in Latin through coursework along. A Latin certification test is planned but is not yet in the writing stage.
This material was posted on the web by CPL Chair, Tom Sienkewicz, at Monmouth College, Monmouth, Illinois. If you have any questions, you can contact him at email@example.com.