I took the first few minutes of my classes these past two days and spoke to my students about the desperate need for teachers -- good teachers. As expected, I was met with surprise, amusement, silent stares, nods, and even agreement. Some students seemed very receptive and a few concurred even though they didn't want their peers to know.
My approach began with the need for teachers in general, how in our district (Spotsylvania County, Virginia) most of our new teachers come from Pennsylvania, New York, and, this year, Michigan. A few were even recruited in the Philippines! I talked about the need for math teachers, science teachers, and then launched into the crying need for Latin teachers. Most did not know this was to become a conversation about becoming Latin teachers until the Trojan horse was inside the gates and standing on the citadel.
I talked about how I had entered college with a notion to become a math and computer science major, how I had signed up for Latin as my "fun class" and because I wasn't ready to give up four years of hard and fun work in high school, how I had failed 5-hour freshman calculus (dashing all realistic expectations of becoming the next Bill Gates), and finally how my Latin professor, more than twenty years before NLTRW became fashionable, had announced to the class that someone someday was going to look at our college transcript, see that we had taken Latin, and ask us to teach. He had planted a seed that day and the rest was history.
I would like to think that my words perhaps have planted a seed which one day might sprout and grow. My advice to my students was basically to keep the possibility of becoming a teacher in the backs of their open minds. I admitted to them that if anyone had told me in high school or entering college that I was going to be a teacher, and a Latin teacher at that, I would have laughed and brushed it off as a complete impossibility... My, my, my, how things do change!
I am extremely proud to know that I do have two extremely enthusiastic and knowledgeable young ladies who will graduate in June and go off to college with plans to major in Latin and become Latin teachers! Unfortunately, I cannot take credit for their decisions. They came to me last year when our new school opened already planning to teach Latin! They have been true gems and have set the exemplary tone for their peers both in class, club, and certamen. They will be sorely missed when they walk across that stage and grab their sheepskin with a huge grin. I will be wiping away the tears!
My parting shot to my students these past two days is that I get to play with Latin, something I love, every single day... I get to hang out with the coolest people in the world (the 2006 version of the American teenager)... and, on top of it all, I get paid to do it! What better job is there in the world?