Barry McNamara  |   Published July 30, 2020

A Novella Approach

Emma Vanderpool ’17 has found niche writing educational novellas in Latin.

MONMOUTH, Ill. – Monmouth College alumna Emma Vanderpool ’17 has authored five novellas in Latin, with another two on the way later this fall.

EMMA VANDERPOOL: ?The novellas provide a different, more compelling way to introduce ancient hist... EMMA VANDERPOOL: “The novellas provide a different, more compelling way to introduce ancient history to younger students.”Vanderpool will shortly begin her first year teaching Latin at Springfield Honors Academy in Springfield, Mass., not far from the University of Massachusetts, where she earned her master’s degree in 2019, as well as the Distinguished Teaching Award.

She said her novellas are a response to “a shift in teaching Latin to comprehensible input,” which is understandable language input that is just one step beyond the student’s current level.

“The novellas provide a different, more compelling way to introduce ancient history to younger students,” she said.

Among the titles are Kandake Amanirenas: Regina Nubiae (Queen of Nubia) and Sacri Pulli: A Tale of War and Chickens, which Vanderpool said is a comic take on Roman history through the perspective of chickens.

Vanderpool’s book project has several supporters, including her classics professor at Monmouth, Tom Sienkewicz.

“Even though Dr. Sienkewicz retired the year I graduated, he and I have stayed very close,” said Vanderpool. “He’s been involved in editing the novellas, and he’s just been very supportive, discussing with me how these books can be used in the classroom. He really has a keen eye for that type of thing.”

Also on board with support is the publishing house of Bolchazy-Carducci.

“They are THE publishing house for Latin teaching publications,” said Vanderpool. “I’m going to kick off their series of novellas – it’s very exciting. The first two are coming out this fall.”

The titles of the first two books are Explore Latin: Aves and Augury Is for the Birds.

Vanderpool’s first five novellas are self-published and available on Amazon.com.

“On average, it takes me about a month to write one, and then another couple months for editing and publishing,” she said. “So I’ve put out quite a few at this point and I’m currently running a workshop on how to do so as well through an organization called Lupercal, of which I’m on the executive board.”

At Monmouth, Vanderpool was a Latin, history and classics triple major and was the College’s Student Laureate of the Lincoln Academy of Illinois her senior year. She spent the past academic year teaching middle school Latin in Georgia, which is where she was when the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted classrooms across America.

“I really paid attention to the importance of respecting and responding to students’ social and emotional well-being,” she said of the need to quickly shift her teaching methods. “I tried to practice patience and flexibility in terms of the assignments and assessments I was giving them, showing the students grace.”

Now teaching at the high school level in Massachusetts, Vanderpool expects that online learning will once again be part of the curriculum.

“It looks like we’ll at least start with a hybrid model – part online and part in-person,” she said in mid-July. “But with the situation changing so rapidly, we have to be prepared for everything so that we can best support our students.”

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