This year, Sturgis East is welcoming its newest Latin teacher, Dr. Mark Wright, to the Sturgis community! Sturgis’ teaching department is full of very unique and diverse individuals, and Dr. Wright will only add to that. I was able to catch up with Dr. Wright and ask him a few questions about his path to becoming a teacher and what he is most looking forward to here at Sturgis.
1. Can you tell us a little bit about your background and where you came from?
I’m originally from Braintree Massachusetts. I first got into Classics (the study of ancient Greece and Rome) by taking Greek at Boston College High as a sophomore and eventually decided I wanted to do that full time. Later on, I also took Latin and majored in Classics at Holy Cross in Worcester MA. There, I did a study abroad program in Rome called the Centro, which is kind of like Classics boot camp. That experience convinced me I wanted to go to graduate school and get an advanced degree. Eventually, I got my PhD in Classics from the Ohio State University in 2014. I started looking at high school jobs and was fortunate enough to land one at my old high school for a few years. Last year, I tried teaching college again at Hope College in Holland, Michigan, but it wasn’t a great experience and I found I preferred high school. When a job opened up at Sturgis, I applied immediately.
2. How did you first hear about Sturgis?
I first heard about Sturgis from Paul Moynahan, my old department chair (and Greek teacher) at Boston College High. Dr. Albis worked with him there before he came to Sturgis. When I heard there was a potential job opening here, I got in touch with Dr. Albis and promptly sent in my application.
3. Have you ever been involved in an IB school before? If not, how has your experience been so far?
I have not—at BC High they still do AP, and most students I taught at Hope and OSU came out of AP programs, if they took advanced course work at all. I have heard of IB, but never taught it before. It has been a great experience—I appreciate, for example, that IB exams tend to be more discursive (i.e. writing out answers) rather than the multiple choice of AP exams. This means that more time can be devoted to learning content and asking big questions.
4. What inspired you to teach Latin?
My grandfather was a teacher and principal in the Boston Public Schools system. Many of my cousins are also teachers. In graduate school, I always enjoyed teaching, especially when writing and research hit snags. Also, I knew that majoring in Classics and then getting a PhD meant I was either going to teach and/or write.
5. What are your hobbies outside of school?
In my free time, I am eager to read. When I’m curious about a topic, I’ll often ask my friends to recommend good books to me so I can get started. Currently I’m reading mostly political books as well as books on the Jewish revolt against Rome from 66-72 CE. This is part of a project I’m working on with an old college friend. We are putting together a critical edition of a medieval poem about the fall of Jerusalem. Over the summer, we started to put together the various manuscripts of this poem that survived. Not much work has been done on this piece of middle English literature in over a century. We hope to have this done by October 2018, to be published by the University of Rochester.
6. What are you looking forward to the most this school year?
I’m thankful for the structure that teaching high school gives to my day. High school is definitely different from college, where you teach one to three classes a day and only three days a week. Teaching high school also allows me to get to know my students better and put them in a better position to succeed because I see them nearly every day for a full year in a more intimate classroom. Ultimately, I find teaching high school to be much more rewarding—there’s a greater sense that one’s teaching has had a lasting and positive effect.
The entire Sturgis StormWatch staff would like to wish Dr. Mark Wright the best as he begins a new phase in his career at Sturgis. We are certainly looking forward to having him on board!