The Student News Site of San Luis Obispo High School

Expressions

Advertisement
Advertisement

Expressions

The Student News Site of San Luis Obispo High School

Expressions

Advertisement
Advertisement

An Interview With Tom Weinschenk: The Man Keeping Latin Alive

An+Interview+With+Tom+Weinschenk%3A+The+Man+Keeping+Latin+Alive

  San Luis Obispo High School has six world language teachers, one of which holds stuffed animals in class and has recorded a CD in Latin. Expressions sat down with SLOHS Latin teacher Tom Weinschenk to get to know this iconic man better.

Expressions: What is your favorite part about teaching?

Latin teacher Tom Weinschenk: I am blessed with great students and wonderful parents who support the educational process. Also I am blessed with being able to teach the subjects that I’ve always loved as a student, and I don’t have to compromise my interests because I love mythology, history of the Romans, literature of the ancient world, and languages. So I feel very comfortable in what I’m teaching because it’s always what I’ve enjoyed doing.

Expressions: Would you care to tell the story of how you got mugged while living in New York?

Weinschenk: I got mugged underneath an American flag, at seven in the morning, on Coney Island Boardwalk. It was a very scary experience and I’m just glad to still be alive.

Expressions: What are your thoughts on the statement “Latin is a dead language”?

Weinschenk: There is a little truth to that, in that Latin isn’t spoken as the common language of a large group of people; it is the official language of the Vatican, but that’s not a large nation. However, I disagree with that idea to the extent that Latin lives on in the complicated vocabulary of English. I see over and over again that students that I’ve had, and even students who were here before I was, who have written me and expressed how valuable Latin has been to them in the sciences, in learning other romance languages, and in all of the professions. So Latin will help you with english vocabulary, in particular some scientific vocabulary because you can break some words down into their component parts—understanding their roots. When you learn Latin and see that Latin in English words, you won’t forget those English words because you know where they come from.

Expressions: Why are there so many stuffed animals in your classroom?

Weinschenk: Well, my son grew up and he didn’t want them anymore. Also students really enjoy having a particular animal on their desk. It’s a comfort to some students, and I’m glad if it makes them feel more comfortable. We also use some of them for teaching grammar; we have the Imperfect Lamb, who is a sheep that is not quite perfect and therefore expresses the imperfect tense.

Expressions: How did you meet your wife?

Weinschenk: Oh, I would love to tell that story. I received a Fullbright Scholarship, to study in Rome for six weeks in 1989 and my wife received a similar scholarship, but at that time she was teaching in the Bronx, New York. We met, first, when we entered what is called the Centro, or study center for the American Academy in Rome, and we said ‘hello’. But then it was kind of weird: about two hours later we suddenly saw each other again at the Piazza Navona, which was down in the center of the city. The chances of us seeing each other again were amazingly small, yet that happened. Then, after we got to know each other as Latin teachers, and as students at the American Academy, my wife-to-be left Rome because she was on a different scholarship, and I went to Pompeii. Then there, at the Villa Virginiana, I studied the town of Pompeii and other places in Southern Italy. Well, nearby is the huge city of Naples, which has over a million people approximately. Now, just by chance, our group was looking at the archaeological museum in Naples, and this is before cell phones or any way of communication. I was looking at a mosaic or a fresco painting on the wall, and sure enough there comes my wife-to-be. She then magically appears, I knew for sure that this was meant to be. Then, in 1991 we got married.

Expressions: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Weinschenk: I’m proud of San Luis Obispo High School Latin students for all of their accomplishments, for being so supportive, and I’m very grateful of how supportive this community is of Latin and that they see the value in it.

Leave a Comment
Donate to Expressions

Your donation will support the student journalists of San Luis Obispo High School. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to Expressions

Comments (0)

All Expressions Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *