SHARE
The Latin teacher program at Hillsdale Preparatory School gains more structure this year. Emily Blatter | Col­legian

Seeking to better serve its stu­dents at Hillsdale Preparatory School, Hillsdale College’s Latin Teaching Program is adding more structure and over­sight to its class­rooms.

Student teachers in the program and preparatory school faculty met for the first time Jan. 26 to discuss new require­ments focused on pro­viding student instructors with direction and guidance in their teaching.

“The changes that are coming this semester are the most sig­nif­icant,” said senior Shelby Ripley, the program’s former coor­di­nator. “We now have a great deal of support coming from the school, and they’re thrilled to provide it.”

The Latin Teaching Program enables college stu­dents with high school or college Latin expe­rience to vol­unteer as Latin teachers at the school at 160 W. Mechanic Road. Par­tic­i­pants teach at Hillsdale Prep twice a week for one hour.

With 15 vol­un­teers, more student teachers are par­tic­i­pating than ever before, Assistant Pro­fessor of Clas­sical Studies Laury Ward said. Each classroom will have two student teachers, enabling the teachers to work together and learn from each other, student teacher senior Luke Zahari said.

The program used to leave cur­riculum and classroom man­agement largely to the dis­cretion of student teachers, but changes are beginning this semester to give the program more structure.

“Last semester, Shelby would assign everyone a class that they would teach, and it was your classroom,” Zahari said. “You determine the cur­riculum, you decide what you’re going to teach, when you’re giving a quiz, how you’re going to grade it.”

But as student teachers and the school’s faculty dis­cussed at their meeting, the alter­ations seek to empower student teachers by giving them more support, espe­cially regarding cur­riculum and classroom man­agement. These include teacher training oppor­tu­nities, early sub­mission of lesson plans to the school, a business casual dress code, and classroom obser­va­tions, cri­tiques, and feedback from Hillsdale Prep teachers.

“They gave us an overview of what their school really stresses in its edu­cation and gave us their vision for our role at the school,” Ripley said.

The Latin Teaching Program gives Hillsdale Prep stu­dents an oppor­tunity to learn Latin, which would be impos­sible without the college’s student teachers, Ward said.

“It’s pro­viding this huge service to the com­munity,” Ward said. “These are stu­dents who would have no Latin, if not for these Hillsdale College stu­dents. They don’t have a Latin teacher there. So it was a great program, period, even before we did any­thing with it.”

The program’s head admin­is­trator, junior Brian Hall, however, said he wanted to make it better.

“I’m working with Dr. Ward to improve, first, Hillsdale College’s rela­tionship with HPS and to increase the training and expe­rience of our student teachers, and as we do that, we hope to increase the edu­ca­tional oppor­tu­nities and the expe­rience of the stu­dents at HPS,” Hall said.

The student teachers will also observe their classes, before their first day of teaching, Ward said. During a 10-day ori­en­tation period, student teachers meet their stu­dents and their Hillsdale Prep teacher and attend formal teacher training.

“There were never any ori­en­tation meetings or meetings of all the teachers to discuss…problems that they’ve had,” Ward said. “During teacher training, Brian gave some tips on: ‘If you don’t know what to do, here’s where you can start. Here’s a basic format a Latin class should follow.’ And that’s the kind of structure they just hadn’t had before.”

Latin Teaching Program leaders said they hope to establish a con­sistent and formal cur­riculum over the next few semesters, explaining what stu­dents should be learning at each grade level.

“The most chal­lenging thing is working to get a stable cur­riculum for our student teachers that they like and that’s within our budget,” Hall said.

Classroom man­agement has been the most dif­ficult part of teaching Latin, Ripley said. Having a contact person at the school to help student teachers stay in control will enable them to run their class­rooms with the same dis­ci­pline as full-time teachers.

“That’s some­thing that was out of our reach before,” Ripley said. “We weren’t sure what we could do, what we couldn’t do, what we could threaten, or how we could reward the stu­dents. I’m very excited for better man­agement of the classroom.”

At the meeting, Hillsdale Prep faculty expressed their grat­itude for the student teachers’ service.

“We appre­ciate all of you coming and helping to make our school better,” Craust said. “I really, truly believe that the Latin program does help to make our school better, and the stu­dents look forward to it.”

Stu­dents with high school or college Latin expe­rience with an interest in the Latin Teaching Program may contact Hall at bhall1@hillsdale.edu for more infor­mation.