Middle and upper school Latin teacher Jim Young discovered his love for language and history studying fine arts at The University of Kansas. Jim found himself particularly interested in the classics and ancient philosophy.
“I liked the idea there were no topics they didn’t touch,” he said. “Philosophy, literature, urban planning, military strategy, you name it. I poured myself into it. It enthused me. It’s like, once you figure out how to slam dunk a basketball, it becomes fun.”
He received his bachelor’s degree in philosophy and the classics and earned a master’s degree in classical languages from KU. While he was working on his graduate degree, he was asked to fill in for half a year at PHS for fellow Latin teacher Nancy Lacy, who was on maternity leave.
“I found that teaching high school was so fulfilling,” he said.
Thankfully, the following year, PHS decided to hire a second Latin teacher, and Jim was offered the job. That was almost 19 years ago. Jim has taught Latin and psychology, was one of the founders of the upper school Leadership Program and was Pinnacle yearbook sponsor.
“I’ve garnered a lot of friendships through teaching at Pembroke Hill, from past students to faculty and staff members,” he said. “Relationships really drive you in this profession. Having a caring heart and making connections with your students sustain you throughout your career.”
Jim has the unique vantage point of teaching Latin in the middle and upper schools. So he may have the same students five of the seven years they are on the Ward Parkway campus. “You develop a close relationship with the students,” he said. “Because I’ve been doing this for so long, I get a sense of how the sixth grade curriculum builds upon itself all the way up through AP Latin.”
There’s a difference to the Latin instruction students receive from middle and upper school. In the middle school, Jim explained, students are exploring learning techniques, as Latin requires a disciplined approach to learning the language. “We want them to discover their own learning style and to both love Latin and learn to use it as a tool while learning other subjects more effectively,” Jim said.
In the upper school, studies become more rigorous, but more fulfilling. A favorite part of the curriculum for Jim is teaching students about the Roman Republic, its strengths and ultimatley its failings.
“The reason I like it is that our country was founded with the Roman Republic directly in mind,” he said. “In essence, we really are Romans and Greeks. We have this constant challenge of trying to define who we are, and with the classics, that’s what we do: study who we are, where we’ve come from, and what we value.”