Swenson Award 2004
Mary Ann Chaffee, Essex High School
Mary Ann Chaffee
A teacher who has been inspiring students in Essex for over thirty years has been named the state’s humanities educator of the year. Following in the footsteps of Graham Stiles Newell, the first recipient of the Victor R. Swenson award, is Mary Ann Chaffee, Latin teacher at Essex High School.
“Our Latin program IS Mary Ann Chaffee!” says former Essex High School principal Armando Vilaseca. “I consider her one of the most talented teachers I have ever had the pleasure to observe. She is excited about her subject matter, in tune with the students’ abilities and is always looking for ways to improve her instruction.”
Mrs. Chaffee was educated at the University of Vermont and Middlebury College in both Latin and French. She has devoted her life not just to the Latin language, but to the culture and ethos of the Romans. Her students become infected by her enthusiasm. One student expresses it thusly: “Mrs. Chaffee cannot contain her love for Latin. She unknowingly transfers it to her students. She doesn’t tell us that the lines of The Aeneid are beautiful, she exclaims it.”
Known as mater (Latin for mother) to her students, Mrs. Chaffee truly considers her “kids” to be family. Katherine Lochbrunner, a former student and a Latin teacher herself today remembers Mater Chaffee as not just a fine Latin teacher who could “help students…coax coherent and thoughtful translations of some of the world’s greatest literary works…” but as one “as interested in the students as [she is] in the subject matter [she is] teaching.”
Whether preparing students for Latin Day at the University of Vermont, planning and supervising an annual Roman Banquet or serving on the various boards and committees to which she has been appointed, Mary Ann Chaffee exemplifies the very best in teaching and humanitas. The Vermont Humanities Council is delighted to have awarded this year’s Victor R. Swenson Humanities Educator Award to Mater Mary Ann Chaffee.
VHC created the award to recognize a Vermont educator on an annual basis and to honor the Council’s first executive director, Victor R. Swenson.
Nominations for the Swenson Humanities Educator Award are due June 15.
Learn more about the Victor R. Swenson Humanities Educator Award.