Classicists are, in essence, bridge-makers (pontifices). It is sobering to realize that those who study and teach the ancient world are the only means of connecting the present with the past—the only ones who make possible that ongoing conversation between our children and our parents and grandparents which is the basis of Western culture. Now, especially in times of economic crisis, many of those bridges are in danger of being weakened or destroyed.
CAMWS’s primary mission in the 21st century is to strengthen existing bridges and build new ones. The main way we do this is through supporting those who teach the Classics in our schools and universities. Through encouraging outreach outside school settings, we hope to help build bridges to the larger community. We also seek to form more bridges between the various levels of our profession. We are therefore unveiling our new
(Bridge Initiative Grant) program, a three-year campaign (2010-2012) that will boost in a powerful way the work of the CAMWS Committee for the Promotion of Latin (CPL). We hope to do this both by increasing dramatically the number of grants and by making sure that each grant has the highest impact.
The CPL has always sought to encourage any and all activities that promote the Classics, both in and outside of schools: toga parties, plays, videos, reading groups, rallies, Classics Days, etc. But we also want to increase awareness, at each educational level of our Classics community, of the good things that are being done at other levels. Now more than ever, K-12 teachers and college teachers need to be supporting and communicating with one another on a regular basis. The BIG program is designed to facilitate this support and communication.
An example of how it works: A high school Latin teacher (call her "Marcia") applies for a CAMWS BIG, which range from $50 to $500. In addition to the money (which, as noted above, we are trying to give away, so viable projects are likely to get it), CAMWS sends Marcia a letter of appreciation and a handsome certificate. CAMWS then alerts all the member colleges and universities within Marcia’s region. The chairs of these institutions (sensing an excellent recruiting opportunity) send letters of appreciation to Marcia (including some information about their own Classics programs), and the enterprising ones (recognizing an occasion to remind their administration of the importance of Classics) draft similar letters for their deans, provosts, and/or presidents to send—since, as everyone knows, students with strong backgrounds in Latin have the highest test scores, the best thinking and writing skills, and the greatest likelihood of succeeding in college and beyond.
Under this BIG scenario, everybody wins. As the recipient of an external grant and the possessor of a sheaf of letters from college faculty and administrators to be shown (or perhaps, at her request, sent directly) to her principal, school board, legislators, etc., Marcia is now in a strong position to argue for the centrality of her Latin program. And the colleges in Marcia’s area now know an enterprising teacher who may send them budding classicists, employ their graduates as teachers and tutors, and in turn remind college and university administrators of the importance of Classics in education.