The Importance of Community

By Joanne Fairhurst, Latin and Greek

I have been teaching at LCA for four years. What strikes me most is its atmosphere of community and support. I was a late-bloomer—I hated high school, the rote memorization, the dull teachers. There was no intellectual spark, no teachers spurring me on. In fact, at graduation, I had no intention of even going to college. To this day, I have not taken the SAT (though the GRE came later). I was profoundly missing something, and that was inspiration and support. It didn't come until I finally did enroll in our local community college and met an energetic and ebullient professor who started every class with an entry from The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy on the chalkboard, exhorting us again and again of the great ideas and thinkers “You should know this!!!”  He wanted to instill a spark in each of us. And those of us who listened were illuminated.

That only continued as I transferred to College of Charleston where I started taking Latin I in the hopes of improving my grammar (oh boy, did it!), but I also discovered my love for etymology, how words come together. It was also here that I fell hook, line, and sinker for Classics. Their Classics department was small, but it was composed of the most encouraging professors one could ever hope for. The head of the department, Daryl Phillips, and the rest of the department are the principal reasons for my being a classicist today. They went above and beyond to create an intellectual community—Dr Phillips’ lectures on Greek and Roman history were kinetic and exciting. He encouraged us to apply for scholarships, submit academic papers and study abroad, and he would spend all of his time trying to make that happen.

When I decided, rather late in the graduation game, to add a Classics major to my History degree, one of my professors met with me during the summer so I could finish Athenaze II and then the following summer another professor offered to meet with me to read Plato’s Apology—all so that I would be able to graduate in time with a Classics degree. To the professors in that little department, our success was everything and they gave us everything to help us succeed.

I see that same support, energy, selflessness in our school here. How Mrs. Stevenson just grabbed my Latin II kids from my class the other day so they could see a dissected frog (so cool!) or the way that Mr. Boyd makes every single kid in school light up like a light bulb. I feel that way when I see my AP Latin kids, who have just performed the spectacular feat of finishing Wheelock’s Latin. They have an almost perfect command of twelve different types of subjunctive uses, passive periphrastics, ablative absolutes, tenses, supines, gerundives. They rattle off Latin words and meanings rapid fire. They have worked so incredibly hard and they have so much to show for it. Now, these AP Latin students, armed with all they learned in Wheelock’s, are starting Caesar’s Gallic Wars, unadulterated and as the Romans read him. I get a glimmer of what those professors saw—the excitement to see a student’s hard and sustained work pay off and of helping, in whatever little way, the students reach that point. It is this community—a supportive, familial, loving, friendly, academic, philosophical, inquisitive community—that reminds me of the golden days of my college career. Oh, that I had had this school when I was a child!