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Leafing Out: State Vice Presidents, the CPL, and You

(originally printed in the Spring/Summer 2002 issue of the CAMWS Newsletter: )

I have a confession to make.  Don’t tell anyone on the CAMWS Executive Committee because they’ll probably find more work for me to do.  (Someone please steal Niall Slater’s and Jim Ruebel’s copies of this newsletter.) Let me just state for the record that I like being State Vice President for Texas.  Yes, it’s a bit of work and does include writing up a lengthy report each year, but (don’t tell) I like doing that.  And it’s not as if I lead a quiet life and have nothing else to do.  Worse, perhaps, is that I like reading the reports from other state vice presidents.  I know, I know… it’s a sickness. After all, who in their right mind chooses to read reports?

I’m sure many of you are saying, “Just what could a state vice president write that could possibly be considered preferred reading material by anyone?” Perhaps you are one of those who shy away from any office that sounds like it might contain a bit of work. I don’t blame you; I have plenty to do as well.  But I’m the curious, nosy type. I like to know (and learn from) what everyone is doing out in our state—a state, I might add, which ought to be declared a CAMWS region all on its own because of its size. Of course being editor for the Texas Classical Association means that I need to know what people are doing most of the time anyway just for our own publications. The two jobs, lucky for me, go hand in hand.

The reason why I enjoy reading the other reports is because there’s always something fresh in them—something that we don’t do in Texas. It is all too easy to get stuck in a rut, don’t you think? When I read those reports I get inspired. For instance, I didn’t know about the wonderful Hildesheim Vase—one of only three full-scale replicas of an ancient Roman crater—that’s  been passed around as a trophy in Ohio since 1925 to exemplary Latin programs. And I hear that Minnesota’s classical association somehow is coming up with gift certificates to Barnes and Noble for students who score a 39 or 40 (out of 40) on the National Latin Exam. I also learn a great deal about the different needs in the states and provinces as well as the conditions for teaching. What a contrast teaching in West Virginia must be, where their recent state JCL had 140 students, to teaching in Texas, where our state JCL had over 2000 students.

That’s all very well, you say, but besides reporting on the news and events in their particular state, what do state vice presidents really do? In fact, why do they even exist?

Funny you should ask. In addition to the state vice presidents’ reports, I’ve been reading in the state vice presidents’ handbook (sick, sick, I know…). Let me first address why we exist. We state vice presidents are part of the Committee for the Promotion of Latin, which does more than just promote Latin. The CPL is instrumental in addressing the needs of Latin programs everywhere within the CAMWS territory. These needs not only include promoting Latin but also supporting programs in place and coming to the rescue of programs under threat of closure. In the last few months there have been probably a half dozen appeals for help, if not more—some from people who never dreamed that their successful programs would ever be challenged. In such instances the CPL will head up letter writing campaigns. State vice presidents are encourage to participate in the effort, often writing letters for schools that are in another state or region altogether.

For the creative teacher with more ideas than funds, there’s money for the having if only you take the time to fill out the quick and easy forms. The types of requests funded are varied and have included money for guest speakers (this year the speakers included Reginald Foster and Legion XIIII, among others), books, trophies, mailings and the printing of special materials. So when you think about it, the CPL does more than just promote Latin, it nurtures Latin.

Now, according to the state vice presidents’ handbook, we have four duties:

  • We are responsible for handling day-to-day business at the local level.
    (Could this have been any more vague or all-encompassing?)
  • We are to work closely with our Regional Vice Presidents.
    (They act as a liaison between state vice presidents and the CPL chair, Tom Sienkewicz.)
  • We are to promote membership in CAMWS.
    (This is in coordination with the chair of the Membership Committee, Monica Cyrino. The importance, of course, in promoting membership is to share the pleasure of belonging to one of the most congenial classics groups around and to keep CAMWS financially healthy. After all, if membership drops off, so does the availability for funds for scholarships and awards.)
  • We are to promote interest in all CAMWS awards.
    (This is in coordination with the chair of the Awards Committee, Michele Ronnick. If you haven’t noticed, there are numerous awards and scholarships on offer to meet the needs of secondary students, teachers, undergraduates, grad students, professors, and beyond.)

But we do more than this. Each year the chair of the CPL sets goals for the state vice presidents to guide them through the year. In recent years these goals have focused on assessing and addressing current and future teaching shortages. This year the goals included:

  • creating a list of expert teachers willing to talk to college students
  • identifying the teacher training programs in the state
  • identifying schools at risk, teacher turnover/retirement, etc

Ultimately the CPL hopes that “expert” teachers will coordinate with teacher training programs and meet with undergraduate and even grad students to encourage more of them to consider teaching at the secondary level. After all, when our programs suffer at the secondary level, enrollments drop at the university level.

As I try to get the big picture, the best analogy I can come up with for the CPL is that of a tree. The trunk of the tree is the chair, the main branches off the trunk are the regional vice presidents, the medium branches off of the main branches are state vice presidents, the smaller branches are the various classics groups, schools, colleges and other organizations around the state, and finally there are the leaves.  The leaves are each of you in the CAMWS territory. Without your help—without your input and information, insight and assistance—the CPL cannot do its job to the fullest. We can’t assess the needs of teachers and professors without knowing exactly what’s going on in your area. Think once again of the tree; if there are no leaves, no photosynthesis takes place.

What can you do? Find out who your state vice president is. Volunteer to help gather information about what’s going on in your area. If you are a secondary teacher, sign up to be an “expert” teacher and then contact your local college about speaking to university students. If you are a university professor, talk to your students now about careers in secondary education—all of your students, not just the ones you think are interested. Brainstorm with your state vice president about how to address the issues unique to your area. Visit the CPL website at

And most of all, encourage others to join CAMWS.

Ginny Lindzey,
TCA Editor
TFLA Outstanding New Teacher of the year for 2001-2002

copyright, Ginny Lindzey, 2002

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May 26 , 2002

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