What Makes Latin Unique
For more than 130 years we've put students at the heart of everything we do. We're committed to seeing everyone within these walls succeed and reach their full potential through an educational experience that will empower them to tinker, to make mistakes, to ask questions, to change how they see the world around them.
We want you to be aLatin Learner
Get to Know Our Latin Learners
Lower school students start each day together as a class with Morning Meeting. An important part of the Responsive Classroom approach to teaching, it is an engaging way to begin the day, build community and establish developmentally appropriate social skills. Learn more by watching the video above.
In partnership with Stanford University, upper school students in Science Department Chair and Teacher Geraldine Schmadeke’s independent study program (ISP) are helping progress scientific research one teeny tiny fruit fly at a time. Learn how in this video!
Something I learned at Latin that I still use today is the value of perspective.
Our Students Develop a
Lifelong Love of Learning
Recent upper school graduates and faculty members had findings from their ISP fruit fly lab published. Take a look at the publication!
- upper school
What is Builder Day, you ask?
The middle school held an event in '17, '18, and '19 called "Builder Day." On that day, all middle school students signed up for 3 "not typically offered in school" classes during the first 3 blocks of the day. During these classes, students experience school in a different way, explore topics they're interested in, and engage in hands-on activities. Some classes offered in the past were "Intro to DJ'ing," 'String Art," "Button Design," and more. Classes were taught by 8th graders, US students, and fellow faculty members.
There are so many aspects of the Portrait of a Latin Learner that Builder Day embodies. Statements like, "Develop resilience by taking on new challenges and using mistakes to further their learning", or, "Use a variety of methods to creatively express themself to others" perfectly embody the work of Builder Day. I hope that events like Builder Day give life to the Portrait of a Latin Learner.
What did Builder Day look like this year?
This year, Builder Day was held on Friday, February 10. Students choose 2 classes from 21 different courses offered this year! Take a look at the offerings & descriptions here:
- middle school
Curious explorers. Inclusive collaborators. Creative communicators. Critical thinkers. These four core competencies make up the pillars of what is called the Portrait of a Latin Learner. The project is a result of a multi-year process that involved teachers, administrators, students, parents and alumni. How did this project develop, what is its significance and how it will it be used in the future?
Every piece of data was examined and became part of the portrait
The portrait was identified as a concept in the 2019 Latin Leads Strategic Design. That document laid out the mission, vision, values and strategy in order to create the best conditions for the growth, wellness, and achievement of every Latin learner. The project began pre-pandemic, when a group of Latin teachers began exploring how they could flesh out the strategic plan, according to Ash Hansberry, the Computer Science Department Chair. The project took a back seat during the pandemic but then was revitalized by the former Head of School, Randall Dunn, who asked Hansberry to be the point person and lead the team which would draft the portrait. Hansberry recruited faculty members, Fiona Deeney, Lower School Computer Science and Technology Integration Specialist, Adriana Durant, Upper School Dance, and Kelly Wyatt, Middle School French to join the Portrait team and the group set to work with ideas.
The Portrait Team wanted their work to be informed by data. Max Rouse, Assistant Middle School Director, and leader of the Learn Team indicated that all constituencies (parents and families, students, alumni, faculty and staff) provided data. For example, parents were surveyed and asked what skills their students were learning that would prepare them for the future. Middle school students were invited to create a billboard indicating what made Latin special to them. “Every piece of data was examined and became part of the portrait,” said Rouse. “We were looking for themes.” Additionally, the team looked at other organizations including data from colleges, other K-12 schools and workplaces to be sure that the portrait compared well with what other organizations expect from young people.
These themes eventually morphed into the competencies. In early summer of 2022, the Learn Team began drafting a prototype which provided descriptors and examples of ways that students demonstrate the competencies. After numerous drafts, the portrait was presented to teachers and staff in August of 2022.
Portrait Value and Next Steps
The portrait is meant to be the cornerstone for any type of learning that takes place at Latin. “We are trying to unify the language we use with students,” said Rouse. “The document provides somewhat of a road map of how to construct and refine programming and learning.” Adds Hansberry, “Long term, we want to be able to use this portrait and competencies as a through-line between all of our programs and curriculum.” Additionally, the portrait is meant to be applicable to all age groups, explained Rouse. “Students can be Latin learners anywhere along their experience.”
The next step involves implementation. Hansberry indicated that certain departments and teachers are experimenting with the portrait already. For example, in the Upper School, the college counseling department analyzed their goals and then created a document that comports with the portrait. Professional development for faculty and staff is planned for the spring.
...we want to be able to use this portrait and competencies as a through-line between all of our programs and curriculum.
Given the multi-year development of the portrait, Hansberry points out that the portrait should not be viewed as one-and-done. “Instead, the way I think about it, is that this is an alignment, a reflection and a goal setting process.” Hansberry noted that as implementation occurs, faculty and staff may identify more needs. The portrait team is open to the resulting revisions that may occur.
Rouse is eager to see how the portrait informs programming in the future. “For new programs, the portrait will help them become mission-aligned,” he said. He envisions that the portrait will help develop programs, and that the language of new programs will be tweaked to conform with the portrait. “It will become part of the process to get new programs off the ground.”
- Around School
Each year, students in 1st through 4th grades explore different book awards in the Lower School Library. Readers learn how committees work together toward a common goal, how to analyze literature with a critical eye and how the voting process works. Award units culminate in the Latin Book Awards assembly where winners are announced to the entire Lower School. View the 2023 mock book awards list.
First graders studied the Monarch Book Award, Illinois’ readers' choice award for students in grades K-3. The Monarch butterfly was chosen to “symbolize the growth, change and freedom that becoming a reader brings.” We read many selected books, challenging students to think critically and familiarize themselves with a variety of books and their creators, ultimately voting on the book they like the best. This year, we had a tie with Friday Night Wrestlefest by J.F. Fox and Micah Player and Lift by Minh Lê and Dan Santat both taking the award!
Second grade explored the Caldecott Award, given annually to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children. We read six contenders for the 2023 Caldecott Award and discussed ways in which the books are excellent in quality, distinct in their design, and a singular achievement by the artists to create a complete “Oh wow!” contribution to our bookshelves. Readers flex their critical muscles as they look beyond the surface, choosing not only the book they like the best but one that meets the parameters of the award most fully. This year students chose Knight Owl by Christopher Denise as their Caldecott winner!
Third grade celebrated the Coretta Scott King Award, presented to authors and illustrators of African American descent whose works promote an understanding and appreciation of the "true worth and value of all beings." We read 6 distinct fiction and/or nonfiction picture books highlighting African American culture or history looking for excellence, information and inspiration as our criteria for “Oh wow!” CSK Award winners. After reading, discussing, and debating, the Third Grade Committee chose Bessie the Motorcycle Queen by Charles R. Smith, Jr. and Charlot Kristensen as the winner of the Latin CSK Award.
Fourth grade dove deep into nonfiction books for the Sibert Award. Students read 6 books featuring distinguished writing and illustration with a clear and accurate presentation in both text and illustration. Readers look closely at the informational contenders and vote using criteria that make them say, “Oh wow!” Ultimately, the Fourth Grade Committee chose Blue: A History of the Color as Deep as the Sea and as Wide as the Sky by Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond and Daniel Minter as the winner.
- Around School
- lower school
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"Try to maintain the attitude of a beginner that's enthusiastic... curious... eager to learn... questioning the certainties around you... willing to try... be unafraid of making mistakes..."
The Latin Learner Podcast sits down with William Horberg '76, executive producer of "The Queen's Gambit," a television limited series on Netflix. He has an extensive resume as a producer for several exceptional films, including "The Talented Mr. Ripley," "Cold Mountain" and "The Kite Runner." Listen to his life lessons learned from decades of being in the film industry. Listen.
Class of '76
Bassist-Vocalist in Horsegirl
"It’s cool to play music because then you get to know a bunch of these other people, and I’ve met so many people from it, and I just keep meeting more."
Nora Cheng '21, one-third of Chicago's alternative/ indie rock band Horsegirl, is featured in a Rolling Stone article. Check out their song "Billy" and its accompanying music video, which the band described as "a love letter to past music scenes we wish we could have witnessed." Read The Forum's article on Horsegirl's emergence here.
Class of '21
Professional Bird-watching Tour Guide
"When I was about 13 years old, I saw a wood duck at North Pond. It blew my mind and I realized that there were more birds than I had ever recognized. I was fascinated and decided to dive in, buy a field guide and explore the birding world."
The Latin Learner Podcast sits down with Nathan Goldberg '14, professional bird-watching tour guide for Red Hill Birding, a local bird-watching tour company based in Chicago. His "life list," which is the total number of birds seen in a lifetime, spans about 1,230 species and counting. Listen to his adventures of traveling the country to spot some of the rarest species of birds. Listen.
Class of '14
Professor, Mayor of Montgomery Township, NJ
"Not only can you be informed about politics, you can actually shape politics, especially at the local level, in a very real way."
Sadaf Jaffer '01 has a prestigious day job, two day jobs in fact: teaching courses on Islam and South Asia through literature and film while also working on a book about secularism among Indian intellectuals as a post-doctoral research associate at Princteon University's Institute for International and Regional Studies. So what prompted her to add to her workload and run for public office? Read more.
Class of '01
Artist, Art Director, Web Developer
“I don’t usually start out with a specific image in mind. The final work is a result of the process.”
Ezra Miller '15 recalls a point in the summer of this year where he was stressing over a project. He was commissioned by fashion house Balenciaga to create a video for Paris Fashion Week that would be displayed on the floor and walls of a giant tunnel made up of hundreds of LED panels. The idea, a brainchild of Canadian conceptual artist Jon Rafman, was that models would walk through the tunnel for a 15-minute performance. Read more.
Photo credit: @ezzzrrra via Instagram
Class of '15
Investor, Founder of One Stock One Future
"If I can get an 8-year-old to think about ownership from the simple act of giving her shares, then why can’t I do that with 10 more kids, a 100 more, 1,000 more?"
Latin alum Rendel Solomon '96 is on a mission to instill a sense of hope in underserved youth by turning them into empowered shareholders. Inspired by his great-grandparents' experience as sharecroppers in the early 1900s and his 8-year-old niece's interest in learning what it means to be a shareholder, Solomon founded the nonprofit organization One Stock One Future. Read more.