Classical Iowa presents how the Greek and Roman world has influenced and continues to shape the cultural contours of our state.
Meet Jonathan Clark, AMICI Middle/High School Consul
I am the Latin teacher at Christ Lutheran High School in Davenport. This is my second year there, and I am teaching Latin I, II, and III. My wife and I moved to Iowa from Oregon in order to be closer to family. I grew up primarily in North Carolina, and I also lived there while earning a PhD in Classics from UNC-Chapel Hill. My first formal exposure to Classics, however, was in Iowa at Grinnell College.
Before I went to college my dad had planted the notion in me that no American should consider himself well educated unless he had studied at least some Latin. My father had taken Latin in high school and would refer to the Latin roots of medical and scientific terms.
At Grinnell I began my study of Latin with Professor Edward Phillips. When it came time for me to think about classes for my sophomore year, Professor Phillips made the convincing remark that has probably been repeated by many Latin professors: “It would be a shame for you to have worked so hard on the grammar in first-year Latin and not to reap the rewards in a Latin literature course.” Professor Phillips subsequently became my advisor. While at Grinnell I also had the privilege of taking courses in Classics from Professors Joseph Cummins and Dennis Hughes, who, along with Professor Phillips, are still fostering an interest in the classical world.
To further round out my Classics education I chose to spend my junior year abroad at The College Year in Athens program. Here I was introduced to all things Greek: ancient, Byzantine, and modern. I could not escape the conclusion that the ancient past had relevance for the present.
During my first semester of graduate school at UNC I became more interested in the ancient-modern connections for Roman civilization. The spark was an early medieval Latin literature course with Professor David Ganz. Studying Latin paleography with Professor Ganz and Roman law with Professor Jerzy Linderski confirmed my interest in learning how the culture of ancient Rome had been adopted and adapted by subsequent generations. This led to a dissertation that focused on Jerome’s use of Greco-Roman religions in his writings.
One reason why I have enjoyed teaching Latin at Christ Lutheran High School is that the other faculty share the perspective that the past is very relevant to the present. For example, since all the students take Latin, teachers of other subjects encourage the students to draw connections between Latin and the courses they teach even though the teachers themselves do not necessarily know Latin. I hope that AMICI can foster an interest in the classical background to subjects even in schools where Latin is not currently offered.
Since I returned to Iowa in the fall of 2003 I have learned that home schoolers are some of the elementary and secondary educators who have great interest in Latin and the classical world. I believe that AMICI can be a valuable resource for these educators as well as for all others who have an interest in the Classics.
It is an honor to succeed Mary Ann Harness as a consul. I look forward to serving AMICI with my more experienced fellow officers, Cindy Smith, consul , and John Gruber-Miller, secretary-treasurer. Do not hesitate to contact me if you think that I might be of service.
Article date: December 2005
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