Faculty Focus: Alice Lanckton

By Alissa Sage and Denebola
Published: December 2010

“In my day you were allowed to do one thing at a time, Alice Lanckton said, referring to her early years in teaching.
Though she is now known as South’s beloved Latin teacher, Lanckton has filled various positions leading up to her current job.
After receiving an undergraduate degree from Vassar College and completing one year of graduate studies at Harvard University, Lanckton took on her first job teaching the subject that had captivated her in high school: Latin.
After marrying and having her first child, Lanckton began working part-time at a Jewish religious school and then went on to teach Geography and History at the Schechter Day School for several years, while also going back to graduate school for nine years to get her doctorate.
This learning is quite characteristic of her career in general. “It is both challenging and rewarding to need and continue to learn, Lanckton said.
Ready to take her career to the next level, she took a Vice Principal position at a Boston area public school for six years and was then Principal there for one year.
“Hats off to Mr. Stembridge and Ms. Scott, Lanckton said, explaining challenges of being in administrative position. “[Being a principal] just wasn’t as satisfying [as teaching itself], she went on to explain.
Eager to return to teaching, Lanckton began teaching Latin at South, where she has been for the past nine years.
Lanckton’s unbounded admiration for her tenth grade Latin teacher, Dr. Kovach, led Lanckton to want to emulate his teaching style.
She explained that at her high school, studying Latin was quite commonplace and that Dr. Kovach was known throughout the school as a wonderful teacher.
“[Dr. Kovach] didn’t just teach Latin, Lanckton said, commenting on her teacher’s proclivity for not only teaching her students the subject in question but also for enlightening them about present day culture and life lessons in general.
Many of Lanckton’s students are quick to share these same sentiments about her. “She always corrects our etiquette, senior Jacob Gilbert said. In addition to improving her students’ manners, Lanckton also updates her students on cultural happenings in the greater-Boston area, and even educates her students about love (you may have seen her students’ beautiful Latin valentines around the school).
With an ancient language such as Latin, one may expect difficulty in keeping students’ attention. However, Lanckton attempts to make all of her lessons enjoyable by employing a variety of teaching methods.
Whenever Lanckton brings out the word “boards, her students race to the windowsill to grab their mini whiteboards, markers and rags and begin declining their I-stem nouns.
Additionally, her students love using flyswatter games to learn vocabulary and her original songs to learn Latin grammar (Exempli Gratia: “BA-BA imperfect and “Oh Beautiful with Ablative)
Her students’ favorite homework assignments are derivatives which entail finding English words derived from Latin vocabulary. This is one of the many ways in which Mrs. Lanckton attempts to make Latin applicable to their every day lives. Students also study “Latin in English phrases such as Persona Non Grata, Veni Vidi Vici, or Lanckton’s personal favorite: Nunc Scio Quid Sit Amor.
She often tells her students that knowing such expressions makes them classy.
On a bulletin board outside her classroom hang the words “FREE SAT TUTORING beside a dozen of her students’ finest derivatives. Lanckton cites the fact that students who take Latin have an average verbal SAT score 170 points higher than that of the national average.
Similarly, Lanckton believes that studying Latin grammar offers insight into the mechanics of English grammar. Aside from learning new vocabulary and grammar, Lanckton is quick to point out that Latin is a “way to begin to understand the mind of another time.
To further achieve this goal, Lanckton assigns each one of her students a different aspect of Roman Culture to research and present to his or her classmates. This not only teaches them about Roman culture but also teaches them research and writing skills. Lanckton recalls her husband’s Latin teacher’s comments about studying the language, “The boys seem to like it. This is no longer true for Mrs. Lanckton’s Latin students today. Mutatis Mutandis.
An example of her students’ excitement for Latin is the Latin sing-a-long that she and twenty-eight of her students attended. On a Monday evening they boarded a bus and traveled to Brown University to partake in the singing of Latin Christmas Carols and Hymns.
This willingness to take time out of their afternoon reflects her students’ love for the language and the sense of community it creates.
Because she teaches nearly all of the Latin classes, Lanckton has the unique opportunity to teach students for three or four consecutive years.
“I love it because I get to see [the kids] grow up, she explains. In addition, this allows students to form bonds not only with Lanckton but with their whole class as well. “She always tries to create this family environment, senior Jacob Gilbert said. It’s unanimous: there’s never a dull moment in 6207.

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