Latin in the Community: Trinity Students Design Curriculum for HMTCA Middle Schoolers

Photo: Student instructors Kyre Williams-Smith ’21, Trea Mannello ’20, Morgan Hallow ’19,  and HMTCA community partner Carrie Keena after a Latin in the Community lesson.

During the Fall semester, Lauren Caldwell, Visiting Assistant Professor of History and Classical Studies, put together a pilot program to lay the groundwork for a Spring offering of “Latin in the Community,” a 0.25 credit opportunity for Trinity College students. In the course, Trinity College students are exposed to both the study of Latin and community outreach work with local schools, and for the Community Learning component of the course, they have implemented a Latin curriculum for middle-school students across the street at Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy (HMTCA). Professor Caldwell introduced ten students — Ardyn Allessie, Morgan Hallow, Rachel Kyriakides, Trea Mannello, David Marottolo, Cassidy Schiff, Nicole Singh, Mary Tursi, Erkin Verbeek, and Kyre Williams-Smith — to the Paidea Institute’s middle-school Latin curriculum called “Aequora: Teaching Literacy with Latin.”

At HTCMA, me and a group of three other [Trinity] students worked with the Latin Club, a group of eighth graders who were genuinely excited to learn about Latin. After determining what the students’ interests were (they had an impressive knowledge of Greek mythology) we worked to come up with activities that could be played in the time allotted for the club on a weekly basis, which sparked some discussion about similarities between English, Latin, and Spanish words. – Nicole Singh ’19

The Paideia Institute partners with over 45 sites at colleges, universities, schools, and community organizations in the U.S. to bring the Aequora curriculum to middle and elementary school students, and thanks to Professor Lauren Caldwell, one of those sites now includes the partnership between Trinity College students and the Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy (HMTCA) middle-school students in the Latin Club. Lauren says that she envisions this course as a start to creating a pipeline for middle school students who are interested in Latin and Classics. Because the Aequora curriculum is trilingual, all vocabulary lists are provided in English, Spanish, and Latin so it compatible with the World Languages program at HMTCA, in which all students take Spanish.

I would say the best part was the opportunity itself. I love teaching and this was a new experience that I would love to do again… Fridays where exciting because I never knew what I would be getting myself into. It could either be a day where we did what we had planned, or a day where the students would surprise us with things they did at home relating to the club. I only speak for myself when I say this, but I really enjoyed myself and I can’t wait to see who will earn glory in the next installment of Latin Bingo. – Kyre Williams-Smith ’21

Designing the Course

In order to make this Community Learning course successful, Professor Caldwell ensured in its design that there be a place for everyone in the partnership. 

Through a unique structure that includes both student instructors and student curriculum design consultants, the instructors have been able to take feedback from HMTCA middle-school students and their teacher and consult with the curriculum design consultants and Professor Caldwell about how to best use the Aequora curriculum in a way that meets HMTCA students’ interest.

The curriculum design consultants, Ardyn Allessie ’19 and David Marottolo ’22 have been critical to the success of the program– they have researched and prepared supplemental course materials, including a Latin bingo game and an ancient Greek alphabet activity, when the middle schoolers showed enthusiasm for Latin vocabulary and expressed curiosity about the Greek language.

It was as if a whole new secret world had opened for me; the strange Latin inscriptions over the doorways around the college suddenly popped out and I felt like I was a part of Trinity’s long history of students studying classics… I remember one of the first things one of the [HMTCA] kids asked me was, “What’s the tea with Hera?” With “What is the tea?” essentially meaning “what is the deal?” I immediately started laughing due to both the fact that this kid had such strong opinions about Hera and also that she knew enough about mythology to know that Hera is always upset. Another of the kids chimed in that its not really Hera’s fault that she is so angry all of the time when she has a husband such as Zeus. – Morgan Hallow ’19

In Fall 2018 the student instructors were Ardyn Allessie, Rachel Kyriakides, David Marottolo, Cassidy Schiff, Mary Tursi, Erkin Verbeek. In Spring 2019 student instructors were Trea Mannello, Morgan Hallow, Nicole Singh, Kyre William-Smith and Arden Allessie and David Marottolo transitioned from instructors in Fall 2018 to curriculum design consultants in Spring 2019.

I think that Classics and community learning is a great way to students to be curious and engage in something that they might faintly know about but not that much. I think this opportunity to teach and to learn academically is a feature that can distinguish Latin the community from other great programs that aren’t school oriented. – Trea Mannello’ 20

Overall, the Community Learning component of this Latin course is unique in Classics– taking the study of the ancient Mediterranean world beyond the walls of the college classroom was a new experience for most of the Trinity students, and it offered HMTCA students the opportunity to learn Latin in a way may not have otherwise had the opportunity to do. See Course Description PDF below.


Thank you to Professor Lauren Caldwell and Carrie Keena at HMTCA.

At Trinity College we define Community Learning courses as those that include perspective taking and mutually beneficial relationships with community partners. If you are interested in building a Community Learning component into your course, or you believe your course should be designated  as a Community Learning course, contact Director of Community Learning