Q&A with Michelle Morrison: On her love of teaching and her passion for language

Q: Why did you choose a career in education?

A: I decided in high school that I was going to teach something. At first I didn’t quite know what subject. I went through my high school’s Latin program and I had five different teachers in the four years that I was there. The last year, I was the only AP Latin student, so I ended up taking my class online through an online education program. After that experience I decided I would teach Latin, a field that had a higher demand and a higher need of teachers.
Q: What is your favorite part of your job?

A: My favorite part of my job is seeing my students get really excited over the material they’ve read. Right now, my seniors are reading poetry by Sylvia Plath. Today they read “Moonrise” and I had them look for the colors in the poem. The color white is mentioned numerous times. I asked them to think through why it is that the color is mentioned so many times. Towards the end of class, they started to realize that it means one thing here, and another thing there, and then it starts shifting, and now it means multiple things. There were definitely quite a few students who had a breakthrough. They were like, I get it! This is really cool! Seeing them get really excited about the literature is rewarding for me.
Q:  Why is it important for students to have the option of learning Latin in high school?
A: The most common answers you hear to this question are that it helps with the SAT and that it helps with vocabulary. My favorite answer, though, is that it helps with logic skills. In order to be able to break down a language into its component parts and think through how those parts are connected, it is just one big logic game. I often use the metaphor of it being a puzzle. When one reads the poetry of Virgil, an ancient Roman poet, you see how he plays around with the word order. You have to figure out where the pieces are going, in order to understand it. Then you start seeing how he’s laying out a pattern and suggesting certain meanings. Latin offers students a unique way of analyzing things in a way that they often don’t get to do with other subjects.  
Q: What makes the Carroll community special?
A: I think there’s a true spirit of openness and acceptance here at Carroll -- from students to faculty to staff to visitors. The minute you walk into the building, you get the feeling that the people care about one another and want to help. Every day, we’re creating a community that is welcoming and safe and accepting. Being able to be a part of that kind of community and reinforce it to the students is special.