Star Spotlight: Amanda Hawley

Hawley recently moved to Kansas City from New York to be the new Latin teacher at STA.


Latin teacher Amanda Hawley laughs at a student’s joke Nov. 8. Hawley teaches freshman, sophomores, juniors and seniors. photo by Tess Jones

by Carmon Baker, Staff Writer

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in a small town called St. Joe, Michigan. It’s on the lake and I went to a public high school there.

What did you study in college?

My major was Classical Language and literature and my minor was museum studies.

How did you learn Latin?

I took Latin as a blow-off class in high school. I actually took French for five years in high school. My last two years I needed to fill something—so I took Latin and I really liked it. Then, I took it in college because I didn’t know what to take. I decided to take Greek because I thought Latin was fun, then I went to grad school for it. I’m happy that I took it on a whim in high school.

Other than Latin, Greek, and French, what languages do you speak?

I also know German and Italian. I was doing my PhD in Classics, and you have to know French, German and Italian in addition to Latin and Greek because so much of the scholarship is in those languages.

Where did you work before you came to St. Teresa’s?

I had a bunch of jobs before I came to St. Teresa’s. Before I moved here, I was in New York City. I was teaching at a high school there. I was also doing a bunch of tutoring. I did SAT and ACT prep stuff. I taught at NYU while I was [in school there].

Why did you decide to apply to St. Teresa’s?

I decided to apply to cities besides New York. I had heard of St. Teresa’s Academy because my brother lives here, so he knows some alumnae, and a lot of his friends know people who went to St. Teresa’s. So when I told him I was thinking about it, he told me it was a really good school and that I probably would enjoy it. I had interviews in Indiana, Utah and Colorado, but I was really excited that I got this job. It was the only school that I applied to that was all-girls, and I think that’s really special so I’m happy to be a part of that. So far, it’s been a really good experience.

What’s your favorite part about working at St. Teresa’s?

I love all my students. Every class that I have is just really fun. The majority are super motivated and they’re excited to be there, it seems like, so we always have a good time. I just really like teaching Latin. The students make it so easy.

What is your favorite class to teach?

I like all of my classes. I enjoy my upper-level Latin classes because we’re reading literature in them. We get to read poetry in Latin and then translate it and talk about all the fun stuff that you get to talk about with poetry, like history and culture. But I also like teaching my grammar classes, and I think the students are really into it. Ancient World History is also fun, it’s different.

Why do you recommend that students take Latin, as opposed to other languages?

It’s a really rich subject matter. There’s a lot of practical benefits that you can gain from studying Latin. I’ve had a lot of students tell me that their writing in English improves a lot after they do Latin because you break down grammar. The way to break down Latin grammar is to start with English examples and then translate that into Latin. You are also learning a bunch of new vocabulary, so your English grammar improves and your English vocabulary improves. Even beyond that—it’s a really fun subject because it’s about this whole time period and about one of the most important and influential historical eras that has influenced modern stuff so much. We can talk about Roman culture, history and literature and how that’s still having an impact today.

What are some of your interests other than learning languages?

I really like reading. I don’t just read classic stuff. I’m reading The Plague right now, which is good. I love going to museums. I live right by the Nelson, so I spend a lot of time wandering around there with my brother. I went to a yoga class this weekend, so I do that. I was happy to do that because being in a new city, I’m still trying to figure out how to find stuff to do. My brother and I like to explore. He takes me to restaurants he likes because he works in the restaurant industry, and we go to a lot of nature centers and go on hikes. I’m going to a lecture at UMKC about Nietzsche, so I think that will be awesome. He’s a German philosopher from the 1800s. He has a lot of cool writings. I love reading philosophy in my free time, too.