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Anne Smith: Following the Siren’s Song with Learning Adventures in Italy

Shipley Middle School Latin teacher Anne Smith was a 2018 recipient of the Classical Association of the Atlantic States (CAAS) Ovatio, an award recognizing teachers for their significant service to the discipline of Latin (learn more about the Ovatio). For 32 years (25 of those at Shipley), Anne has inspired students with her passion for the Classics. “Art history, mythology, literature, art, architecture. I love it all,” she exclaims. But perhaps more impactful than anything she’s done within her classroom are the 20+ trips to Italy on which she has led hundreds of Shipley students and parents over the years.
 
Through these trips, and in many other ways, Anne pays special tribute to her longtime best friend and fellow Shipley Middle School Latin colleague, Dr. Lynn Ennis Iozzo. Together with the help of Upper School Latin teacher David Rich, they created a dynamic Middle School Latin program starting in the early 1990s. Early on, Lynn and Anne added an annual Italy trip to their program.
 
Basing the style of the trips on the Classical Odysseys written and led by her graduate professor and mentor, Henry Bender, Anne says, “I was inspired by his approach to teaching and as a guide, sharing his love and passion and incredible knowledge with his students in the most engaging way.” Anne’s Classical Adventures are custom made for her students each year and they underscore the importance of travel in her own educational path and life’s journey. “I have been so lucky, so fortunate,” she says, “to have studied abroad in various programs abroad. They inspired me, and now I model my passion, dedication, and commitment to teaching on those incredible professors and early instructors I had.”
 
The trips for middle schoolers are a balance of serious learning and epic adventure. Students may hike up Mt. Vesuvius, explore archeological sites, visit museums, and participate in food tastings, while learning Italian and reading Latin as they encounter it along the way. “I find that students reflect back and say, ‘Mrs. Smith, it was on your trip that I realized I am passionate about pursuing architecture, or art, or history in such a unique way that I studied it in college,’ or ‘I pursue my art here at Shipley in a more focused way. I’m interested in art history and it's because of my experiences with you on your trip.’”
 
The most meaningful part of the trips for Anne is knowing that she is changing her students’ lives through travel. “I'm inspired when students tell me, ‘I love what I learned. I'm inspired to learn more.’ It's that intellectual inquiry, the appreciation of art and ancient culture and how it can resonate with students, how they can connect with and learn from the past to better understand the modern world that excites me so much about travel.”
 
Though some people may think of Latin as a “dead” language, Anne sees immense value in young people pursuing the Classics as a field of study. She wants her students to learn from the ancient classical world and explore its influences on our world today. “I think it’s profoundly important to inspire curious young minds to reflect backwards, to make their own observations, and to see the connections to their modern world. I'm very fortunate,” she says, “to be supported and have the creative license in my classroom—and beyond—to be leading these tours and sharing these experiences.”
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The Shipley School is a private, coeducational day school for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students, located in Bryn Mawr, PA. Through our commitment to educational excellence, we develop within each student a love of learning and a desire for compassionate participation in the world.