Awards and Scholarships

2005 CAMWS Award
for Special Service

Deanna Corn

(presented at Southern Section Meeting in Winston-Salem, NC, Nov. 6, 2004)

How many times do we classicists have to justify the value of what we teach and win over administrators and guidance counselors who not only do not assist students wanting to take Latin but who sometimes even discourage students from taking such an “irrelevant subject”?  Now consider the reverse?  What would it be like to teach in a school in which Latin is considered vital?  What would it be like to have a Head of School who promotes Latin and who steers students into Latin classes?  For that reason among others, Deanna Corn, Head of School at Columbia Independent School in Columbia, Missouri is a worthy recipient of the CAMWS Service Award.

CIS opened its doors in August 1998 with 55 students in grades 6-9; of that founding student body 38 were enrolled in two sections of Introductory Latin and one section of Intensive Latin I.  Each subsequent year an additional grade was added to the high school until the twelfth grade was added in 2001-2002. Not only has the student body increased but also the number of students taking Latin.  Currently 99 of the 106 students are in a Latin class.  This year we have thirteen sections of Latin, which includes a full curriculum ranging from Introductory Latin to Advanced Placement – Vergil.  In addition one student who completed the AP Vergil course last year is taking an Advanced Latin Class in Roman Comedy before school.  How did this occur?

When the founders of CIS hired Deanna (Dee) Corn as Head of School in 1997, CIS was only a vision.  There was no set curriculum, no teachers, and no students. Even though Dee herself had never had Latin, she knew from her 29 years in public education that the study of Latin offered many benefits to students.  Several of the founders who had studied Latin agreed heartily with Dee that CIS should have a strong Latin foundation.  Dee was the driving force in the development of our school’s curriculum with its emphasis on Latin.

This emphasis on Latin at CIS has reached beyond our walls and has had an impact on our community.  During our first year, our school was selected to participate in a special program with the University of Missouri’s Museum of Art and Archaeology because of our students’ involvement with Latin.  Our students had their own program at the museum serving as junior docents, displaying their own art work, and performing their own creative pieces.  Another way that Latin at CIS has impacted our community is in the increased enrollment of Latin in other schools in Columbia.  When other private schools in town realized that Latin was an integral part of our curriculum, they began to offer Latin in their schools.  In the public schools more parents took notice of what CIS, the college-preparatory school, was requiring, and they encouraged their children to take Latin.  As a result the public schools are more accommodating to students wanting to take Latin.  The word is getting out in the community.

Dee has also encouraged individual students to take Latin.  Latin is required for grades 6-8, but students in grades 9-12 may choose the foreign language that they study.  As she meets with new incoming upper class students, she counsels them to take Latin as she explains to them all of its benefits.  At the end of each year Dee publishes in the local newspaper a special ad recognizing all of our student achievements.  A prominent feature and in fact the largest is the number of awards that our students receive on the National Latin Exam.  Numerous parents have told us that they noticed the large number of Latin award winners, and some have said that it was the strength of the Latin program that attracted them to our school.

Finally, Dee is always open to ways of expanding the classics’ influence.  Each year in April we have Toga Day, which celebrates Latin.  All the Latin students make and wear their togas to school. Then the toga-clad students have a processional from the school down Broadway to a local restaurant for a special lunch.  After the lunch the students present original skits to parents and invited guests.

In conclusion, Deanna Corn has been a driving force behind creating and nurturing in our school a thriving Latin program, which has raised the awareness of the value of Latin in our whole community.  However, the most important thing is that she has allowed so many young students not only to learn but also to enjoy Latin.  When polling 6th graders about their favorite subject, Latin is always at the top. Perhaps one of my 6th graders last year said it best when he wrote me  the following: “I have never known Latin, but now I know it is living in  your room.”  Without a doubt Deanna Corn truly has promoted Latin and its value and is worthy of the CAMWS Service Award.                                     

--Sue Ann Moore, Latin Teacher, Columbia Independent School


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