Name: Wendy R. Morris
Class Year: 1990
Title: Latin Teacher, World Languages
Organization Name: Lincoln School, Providence, RI
1. In one sentence, what does your job entail?
I teach all levels of Latin (I-VI) to both middle and upper school (high school) students in conjunction with a colleague.
2. What planned and unplanned events connected you to your industry and your first employer after Holy Cross? How did you learn/decide it was a good fit for you?
I knew I was interested in teaching from the time I was in third grade although I always thought it would include French since I am half French and attended a French Catholic school where I learned the language early on. My uncle taught science, my grandmother – Latin, and my aunt – Language Arts/French; you could say that teaching is in my blood. I was fortunate to have amazing Latin and French teachers throughout high school, one of whom allowed me to independently teach Latin I to a fellow student who was unable to fit the course into her schedule; she received full credit for the course, and I began to realize that teaching was my vocation. I took a lot of history courses in high school including a foreign policy course; I also attended the Close-Up program in DC which focused on US Government. For a while, I considered going into foreign policy or working as a translator, but I could not ignore the teaching bug. Various events kept reminding me of that gift and calling. Holy Cross and the amazing professors and experiences I had there helped me to fully discover that calling.
I visited and then applied to Holy Cross at my aunt’s suggestion; I fell in love with it as soon as I stepped on campus. Though I started out as a French/Classics double major freshman year, taking French at the Advanced Comp and Con level, a reading course in Latin and Intro Greek as well, I realized by the end of my sophomore year that taking three languages a semester, though I loved them, was too much of the same thing as I still harbored those other interests of history and political science.
The Classics Department, then as now, is one of the best in the country, and there were some pretty amazing professors at the time, one of whom was my advisor, Dr. Ziobro. He, along with Dr. Nagy and several other professors, taught some pretty intensive classes that helped me further advance my analytical skills and brought my writing to the next level. Because of this, I chose to focus solely on Classics. I studied abroad junior year through the Stanford program in Rome, another transformative experience. Once I returned, I applied to both PhD and MAT programs since I wasn’t sure if I wanted to teach college or high school. After receiving acceptances to both types of programs with all tuition and expenses covered (thanks again to my amazing professors, their recommendations, and a lot of hard work), I chose the MAT program at UMass, Amherst.
I first taught in Prince William County, VA, at large middle and public high schools, initially as an itinerant teacher and then as a stationary one at a high school with 2,500 students, 300 of whom took Latin. Once our family moved back to Massachusetts, I stayed home with our children and worked part-time at their small Catholic school as a PR and Development specialist where I focused on starting their first newsletter, auction, and media campaign. After a decade, a serendipitous, though tragic happening, led me to Lincoln School eleven years ago where I have been teaching since. It is a small, private, Quaker all-girls school that runs from kindergarten through grade 12. It also offers co-ed infant care and pre-school. This is the exact opposite of where I began. With the small class sizes, I am able to develop more meaningful relationships with my students and mentor young women one-on-one. Both types of teaching have their rewards, and there are countless opportunities to make an impact whether in public or private teaching institutions.
3. What were you involved in when you were on campus?
Dorm Rep, Co-Pres of Classics Club, Captain in Kimball, Fitness Classes, Campus Ministry, Folk Group
4. What was your major and how did it affect your career decisions?
Classics: I chose Classics because I knew I wanted to teach languages. It didn’t affect my choice of career, but because of my close relationships with these professors, it opened doors to achieve my goals within the field of education.
5. What are one or two skills that you developed at Holy Cross that you use in your work?
Critical thinking and writing; I cannot emphasize enough how important these skills are for any career
6. What advice do you have for students on campus today?
Get involved and explore things that interest you. HC offers so many amazing opportunities. Get to know your professors; this is one of the greatest things about Holy Cross. Most of them have chosen Holy Cross because they love teaching and want to make a difference in your life. Go to office hours, just to chat, even if you don’t need academic help. I am seeing this now with my own son who is currently a freshman. He just received a grant to do research next summer with his psychology professor who not only personally reached out to him but then sat down with him for two hours to help him fill out the grant that is funding this opportunity. There aren’t many places where you have these opportunities as a freshman. The people at Holy Cross are what make it such an interesting and special place. Get to know as many of them as possible.