2019 Eunice E. Kraft Award for
Excellence in Secondary School Teaching
Lynn LiCalsi earned her B.A. in English at Wellesley College and her M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Phoenix. Since 2001 she has taught Latin at Fairview High School in Boulder, Colorado. In her time at Fairview she has more than doubled the Latin program from 80 students to between 175-180, all of whom she serves as the sole Latin instructor. At her school, students regularly participate in the National Latin Exam and the Colorado Junior Classical League, and frequently win NLE scholarships and go on to study the Classics in college. But her devotion to her profession extends far beyond the walls of Fairview High School; she serves on the Boulder Valley School District's Curriculum Council, is in charge of the new District Pilot Test in Latin, and recently rewrote the Latin passages for the Novice through Intermediate ACTFL texts.
Colleagues of Lynn comment on her endless energy, supportive nature, and creativity: “I don't think I've ever met an educator who puts such a strain on my thesaurus of superlatives, nor one with Lynn's astonishing record of positively influencing the lives of her students.” Another colleague comments, “what I admire the most about Lynn is that she truly believes in what she is doing. Teaching Latin is not just a job for her, it is her passion. The types of activities she designs for the kids are so creative and exciting, that kids line up to take her class, and if the opportunity were there for teachers to take her class, they would be there too.” “Lynn has that magic set of qualities, which on rare occasions combine in a single individual to create a famous teacher. She possesses impressive intelligence, full command of the details of her subject matter, excellent understanding of adolescent psychology, knowledge of the myriad ways to motivate students, and consistent dedication to both innovative teaching methods and understanding of important issues in communities of educators.” Furthermore, her students echo the comments of her colleagues. As one student sums up” “Bottom line, Lynn LiCalsi, is the person that I will always remember for pushing the limits of what it means to be a teacher. I can speak to, but I can't properly convey her deep commitment to every single one of her students and her enthusiasm to make us life-long learners.”
Yet in addition to her indefatigable energy and generous openness, one of the key attributes which set Lynn apart in the eyes of the award committee is her willingness, or even eagerness, to change and grow as a teacher. In her teaching philosophy, Lynn tracks some of the major trends in Latin pedagogy in the past few decades and underscores how imperative it is that Latin teachers constantly grow their skills. She says, “I believe that good teachers make … classroom adjustments, but great teachers need to change in much bigger ways.” And change Lynn has, from her participation in a specially selected cohort of teachers learning about the integration of technology in the classroom to her recent investment in learning about and incorporating Comprehensible Input into her Latin instruction. She sums up her philosophy of teaching as the following: “Never get stuck in your ways; maintain a flexible mindset; keep your sense of humor; don't take yourself too seriously; remember that we teach children, who are growing and changing at all times; be respectful, kind, and compassionate. Keep the door open for everyone, and let Latin work its magic.”
The Committee is honored to award Lynn LiCalsi the 2019 Kraft Award for Excellence in Secondary School Teaching.