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  • Riley Gayle

Magistra Brinley Finds Joy in Teaching Latin


Ms. Brinley's students study in Latin III / Credits: Riley Gayle


Ms. Jane Brinley, the Latin teacher, has been teaching at Walls for 13 years. Her interest in Latin started much earlier.


“I began learning Latin in Fall 1975, from Ms. Cynthia Bognolo at Hanover High School in Hanover, NH,” Ms. Brinley said. Her interest stemmed from multiple aspects of the language; “You didn’t have to speak it,” she said, which was helpful as a shy person. She also enjoyed learning about “ancient stories and word etymology.” To her, the language is “endlessly fascinating.” Her love of ancient languages extended to college, where she studied ancient Greek.


After studying these languages, Ms. Brinley knew that she wanted to be a teacher. She focused on Latin because she thought that she’d be “teaching students who had chosen that subject” as an elective class.


In 1999, Ms. Brinley began teaching Latin at St. Anselm’s high school in D.C., where she taught for 11 years. She officially joined School Without Walls in 2010 and has been teaching Walls students ever since.


Through Ms. Brinley's years at Walls, she has learned many effective teaching strategies, such as “incorporating the desire to socialize” in her lessons and “connecting with the now.”


Ms. Brinley enjoys her job as a Latin teacher “so much that it's kind of a problem. I love the chance to help; planning classes and units can be a really satisfying and creative activity. I love creating moments of fun and shared joy.”


Through her time at Walls, Ms. Brinley has learned lessons of her own. She now appreciates the “importance of transcendent values” because, “without a sense of the things that are important beyond [herself], [she loses her] way.”


Students have also learned more than just the language of Latin in Ms. Brinley’s classes. She explained, “This field allows me and my classes to encounter, explore and discuss some of the big questions: what does it mean to be human? What is human excellence? What is justice?”


Her favorite thing about teaching at Walls? “The students themselves; you all are interesting. I also love creating the space for learning and for being together in a fun and supportive way.”


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