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Alumni/ae and Friends

Sara Cole (’09) received her PhD in history from Yale University in 2015, and she is now an assistant curator at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. Her research focuses on contacts between ancient Egypt and the Aegean world. This year she published two articles and a co-edited book titled, Beyond the Nile: Egypt and the Classical World. What a roaring start to a great career!

Abby Durick ('17) spent a year studying in the MSt program in Classics at Oxford University. She now has transferred to the University College of London to pursue a second Master's degree in Heritage Management. She testifies, "[At Oxford] I was the only student who came from a state university. I wanted to thank the UT classics department and say that I was well prepared for Oxford. At times, my experiences at Mitrou and Pylos set me far ahead of other students in the program." Thank you for that wonderful endorsement, Abby, and all our best for your archaeological studies.

Kate Seat (’11) has come home to Tennessee after too long a hiatus. Chris Craig extracted this report from her: “After teaching Latin for five years at a private school in the Atlanta area, I took a year off for grad school. I completed my MA in Latin at the University of Georgia in July 2017, and a few days later joined forces with one of my UGA classmates to teach Latin at The Collegiate School of Memphis, and I am now in my second year there. We teach levels I-IV with a Comprehensible Input approach, and about half our students are involved in JCL. Though I loved my years in Georgia, I am pleased to be back in my home state, where I can indulge in local luxuries such as a Dolly Parton license plate and great live music any night of the week. I have never lived in Memphis before, but it has already begun to feel like home, in large part because of the friendships and connections I have from UT. “Kate, we’re glad you’re back!

Kate’s high school Latin teacher, the iconic Nancy Howell, has not retired well. Having departed Metro Nashville Public Schools in 2017 after a truly distinguished career in both private and public education, Magistra Howell is back at it this year teaching Latin at Hendersonville High School. Everybody wins!

Sarah Cooper Mize (’16) has left her position as the Latin program at William Blount High School in Blount County to become the Latin program at Halls High School in Knox County. Halls is very glad to have her, and Magistra Mize now gets do to family in-service with her mother-in-law, Pam Phillips (’90), the Latin teacher at Knox County Central High.

Lizzi Kersey (’07) moved in 2017 from teaching Latin at Karns High School to teaching social studies at Farragut. She did this in part to be closer to her spouse, who is a guidance counselor at Farragut. The siren song of the basic language, however, could not be denied. Magistra Kersey is now teaching Latin at Farragut, and we look forward to seeing that storied program thrive under her care.

Leigh Anne Cutshaw (’14) continues to grow the Latin program at Hardin Valley Academy. She has also taken on assignments as a member of our departmental advisory board and as Latin coordinator of the TFLTA East Tennessee Regional Workshop. In Knox County, she seems to be everywhere. Including Panera. There Chris Craig caught her this summer having lunch with Pam Phillips (’90) from Central HS and Julie Holt (’93) from Powell HS. They were ostensibly serving as the curriculum committee for Latin in Knox County Schools, but Chris suspects they were plotting an educational revolution.

Under Magistra Cutshaw’s leadership, the TFLTA regional workshop was a great time for learning and fellowship. Usual suspects included (inter alios) Michael Ball (’11) from Seymour HS, David Housewright (‘16) from Independence HS, Alex Mangone (’12) from L&N Stem Academy, Charles Cave from Gatlinburg-Pittman, and Leah Giamalva, who is starting the new Latin program at Tate’s School of Discovery. Magistra Jenny Fields, long at Knoxville Catholic and now at Webb School of Knoxville, was our principal speaker and wowed the group with her combination of good sense, enthusiasm, and unapologetic love for the Junior Classical League.

Samantha Kolyer has brought her remarkable energy and good humor to Karns High School, where she is now the Latin program. Magistra Kolyer had done her undergraduate work at APSU before relocating to Knoxville. Middle Tennessee’s loss has been East Tennessee’s gain!

Our sources tell us that Maria Marable, having succeeded Nancy Howell at the marquee Latin Program at MLK Academic Magnet School in Nashville, is up to her old tricks. Having already earned master’s degrees in Curriculum & Instruction and in Administration & Supervision, she last summer completed the one that means most to her, her MA in Latin from the University of Georgia. Tibi gratulamur, Magistra!

Sarah Parsly (’17), a legendary leader of our classics undergraduates who did her student teaching with the extraordinary Magistra Connie Weaver at Maryville High School last year, has instantly moved to a prize position as the middle school Latin teacher at Webb School of Knoxville. We can only congratulate Webb on landing Magistra Parsly.

At our 2017 meeting of the Tennessee Classical Association, we were thrilled to have Sewanee Classics Professor Stephanie McCarter’s (’00) newest departmental colleague as our guest speaker. Terry Papillon, an Isocratean scholar and dean of the College at Sewanee, was given an appreciative reception at his TCA debut. President Abigail Braddock Simone (’02) arranged a very special tribute to Susan Martin as she glided to retirement. As ever, the TCA was an opportunity to see favorite alumni/ae and friends, including (but not limited to!) Ed and Laura Long (’86), Diana Howard Tomayko (’03), Maria Marable, gloating retirees Ed Gaffney and Nancy Howell, TCA Distinguished Latin Teacher of the Year Reagan Ryder and our grande dame of TCA, the irrepressible Alice Sanford.

We were delighted to receive this update from recent graduate Jacob Brakebill (’16), who is doing is graduate work in classics at Missouri: “I successfully defended my MA thesis in April, and then spent most of the summer at the SCS Workshop for Material Culture. I also taught mythology again this summer and I am currently teaching Latin 1200/1200H. I am taking courses on the Greek historians, archaeology of Late Antiquity, minor arts in Antiquity, and Sanskrit (which is proving to be both the most challenging and most entertaining class). I am also preparing for my comprehensive exams in the spring semester (bonum deum, quam tempus fugit!)!” Bravo, Jacob!

Stephanie Fuehr ('12) received an MA in anthropology from Mississippi State University. She is working in a forensic science lab in Lincoln, Nebraska. She is eager to resume her studies, however, and is now checking out PhD programs in bioanthropology.

Kristopher Hartley ('00) got back in touch with Professor Emerita Geraldine Gesell. He wrote, "I frequently think back to my short time at the Kavousi excavation in Crete, and how formative that experience was. I owe you a long-delayed thank-you for giving me that experience." Kris received a PhD from the National University of Singapore and is now a lecturer in public policy at the University of Melbourne, conducting research on technology and economic policy in Southeast Asia. He is living proof of how a classics degree prepares students for the world.

Gerry Gesell reports that Rajshree Solanki, whose distinguished career in museology led her to the Smithsonian Museums in 2004, is now the chief registrar at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden (, our National Museum of Modern Art.

We heard through the grapevine that Katie Lindsay ('14) is doing very well in the MA program in Greek and Roman Archaeology at Florida State University. She is getting TA experience this year in courses with Professor Slaveva-Griffin, who was a lecturer in our department before going to FSU. Katie spent six weeks this summer excavating at Olynthus, Greece. She is looking forward to teaching her own class this year. Way to go, Katie! 

Chloe Lovelace ('15) is enjoying graduate studies at New York's Institute of Fine Arts, where she is focusing on Aegean, Egyptian, Greek, and Roman art and archaeology. At the same time, she is working fulltime in the education department at the Metropolitan Museum, which pays a significant portion of her tuition. At the museum, she is getting great experience teaching with objects in the Greek and Roman galleries. She loves how this work forces her to think about engaging audiences in an accessible and universally interesting way with material that she is excited about. We couldn't be more proud of you, Chloe.

Our alums represent the full spectrum of political views, and we are proud of all of them who follow their convictions to try to make a difference. Less than two years after graduating, Emily Gregg (’17) is the chair of the Knox County Democratic Party. She was recently re-elected to serve as Senate District 7 state executive committee member to the Tennessee Democratic Party, and is currently working as a campaign support coordinator for the TNDP. Well done, Emily!

We were thrilled to hear from Jason Simms (’04) after too many years. Jason earned an MA in anthropology here, then moved to the University of South Florida, where he completed a PhD in applied anthropology and a Master’s of Public Health in a dual degree program. There he met spouse Kristy, who earned her doctorate in public health at USF. They delight in their son, Connor. After three years in Connecticut as academic computing manager at Wesleyan, Jason moved to his current position working with other faculty to bring computers to bear in the classroom in all disciplines at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania. There Jason also teaches courses like Roman Technology and Engineering and Roman Warfare. They are lucky to have him.

Sam Gleason (’13) is currently finishing his Master of Letters with the Bread Loaf School of English at Middlebury College during their summer semesters. His (broad!) research project is centered around examining the theme of pilgrimages and journeys in a variety of texts ranging from epic poetry to medieval travel narratives with an interest in how mappaemundi help readers to interact with the texts. He currently teaches in the English department at Pellissippi State Community College. And he gets around. When Chris Craig called his mobile this summer for help with a Latin teacher placement, it took a moment to realize that Sam was answering from Oxford, where he had gone for a little research and relaxation. This sounds like an abnormal summer in the very best sense.

We were very glad to see Debra Hawhee on campus in September. A Lady Vol on the national champion basketball team in 1991, Debbie took Greek with Professor Chris Craig and David Tandy while she finished her MA in English (‘94). (Unlike some other championship athletes, Debbie felt the need to read Aristotle’s Rhetoric in Greek.) Hawhee is now the McCourtney Professor of Civic Deliberation at Penn State and author of important books on the history of rhetoric. She gave a delightful lecture for the English department on “Aristotle’s Tired Audience.” We were touched that she proclaimed there how important our Greek classes had been. Thanks for the shout-out, Debbie!

In Memory

Magistra Marla Neal, who retired in 2014 after more than 20 years at Girls Preparatory School in Chattanooga, passed away on August 26 after a long illness. She is survived by her husband, Sam, five children, 16 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. Magistra Neal was our Tennessee Classical Association Distinguished Latin Teacher in 2006. She taught all levels of Latin at GPS and continued to be active there after her retirement, both in and out of the classroom. Many, many lives are richer because she was in them.

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