Submitted by Shane Mauldin, MISD Communications
Latin is alive and well in the 21st century thanks to the work of teachers like Jennifer Jarnagin of McKinney Boyd High School. Jarnagin was recently named Texas Latin Teacher of the Year by the Texas Foreign Language Association (TFLA).
“I am truly honored to be recognized by TFLA,” said Jarnagin. “My fellow Latin teachers, Lindy Olsen and Joe Jacquot, and I work very hard to create worthwhile lessons and challenge our students to make connections across curricula. They share in this award as well, since I would not be able to do what I do without their support and friendship.”
Jarnagin was recognized at the TFLA Fall 2012 Conference held in Austin on October 11-13.
The award spotlights a McKinney ISD foreign language subject that is slightly off the beaten path but has much to offer students who partake in the journey — a journey that, according to Jarnagin, is not just for “crusty academics in ivory towers.”
“Learning Latin helps us to better articulate our thoughts and feelings, and it gives us a greater command over our own language,” she said. “About 90 percent of all multisyllabic words come from Latin, so its study helps anyone to understand English better. This is why Latin boosts students’ standardized tests scores regardless of their cultural, ethnic or socioeconomic background.”
Jarnagin cited benefits across a broad spectrum of academic disciplines and noted that Latin provides a particular advantage during the college admissions process.
“College admissions panels routinely list the study of Latin as a reason for admitting students into their universities,” said Jarnagin.
“In fact, Matthew Potts, an Admissions Counselor for the University of Notre Dame said, ‘Students taking Latin are typically scholarly. They pursue academic study in the purest sense, they are not simply fulfilling a requirement,’ and Ray Brown, the Dean of Admissions of TCU said about Latin students: ‘That’s a student willing to step away from the crowd.’ Why not study a language that has so many benefits?”
In addition to the scholarly benefits Jarnagin’s class brings to her students, she holds firmly to the conviction that her goals should reach beyond academics.
“I feel that we as educators have an obligation to help our students learn to be global citizens; respect, responsibility, tolerance, effective communication and passion are essential qualities for success in the 21st century, no matter what line of work our students choose,” she said.
“I want students to leave my room everyday feeling confident and good about themselves, not only because they’ve been successful at Latin, but because they feel like they belong.”
Photo: Jennifer Jarnagin teaches the finer points of Latin grammar in her Latin III Pre-AP class at McKinney Boyd High School.