A professor’s path: Dr. Ladd

Yesh Nikam, Contributing Writer

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Very rarely is a high school student fortunate enough have a teacher who brings experience not only from overseas, but also from higher educational institutions. Dr. Cornelie Ladd brings both to her classics classes here at Horace Mann.

Ladd was first introduced to the classics as a child, when she studied Latin and Greek in Europe. She was fascinated by ancient languages and books, specifically that way the perception of human life comes across as modern through ancient literature, she said.

In college, Ladd moved to the United States and began her graduate work at Columbia University, where she dove deeper into the classics.

Ladd first gained experience teaching as a graduate student when she taught the Literature and Humanities (LitHum) course at Columbia. “LitHum is a course that introduces students to a compilation of books that are considered significant in the development of human thought, and in part they involve the classics,” she said.

As soon as she chose the classics as her field of study, Ladd knew she wanted to be a teacher, she said.

After she earned her PhD, Ladd moved to London and commuted to the Netherlands to teach a class on “Great Books” at the University of Tilburg. “The class focused not only on influential  works from classical antiquity literature including The Iliad and Odyssey, but also on works from the Middle Ages, Renaissance, and pre-modern and modern times.” she said.

Eventually, Ladd returned to New York City with her family. When the school offered her a job as a Latin teacher, she gladly accepted it, she said.

The classes that Ladd teaches are slightly different from the LitHum clahss at Columbia, she said. “In college, the reading assignments tend to be much larger, and the classes don’t meet as often, and [at the school], classes meet every day,” she said.

“At HM, [teachers] have the privilege of knowing our students better because we see them every day. We really understand how they can grasp things that are familiar to them and how they can grasp things that are new to them,” she said.

A crucial aspect of teaching, according to Ladd, is forming a close relationship with students. “You have to work with their growth, and you see their growth more close up because you see them every day” she said.

Despite the change in environment from a college lecture hall to a high school classroom, Ladd didn’t have to alter her teaching style too drastically because it is always changing regardless, she said. “As a teacher, you have to adjust every time you teach, because each class is unique,” she said.

Rohan Bhatia (11), a student of Ladd’s Latin 4H class, feels that Ladd’s understanding of the class helps her communicate the lesson effectively.

“She always allows the student’s capabilities to guide the curriculum; and our assessments always build off of the understanding we developed in class”, he said.

Paul Wang (11), a member of Ladd’s Ancient Greek A class, appreciates how she understands that the students have other commitments, and thus communicates the lesson in an effective manner.

“Instead of making us memorize all the vocab, she really wants us to learn how to read,” Wang said. “She doesn’t want us to take unnecessary steps. For example, we don’t have to translate from English to Greek, but instead from Greek to English, so we can read ancient texts.”

After 12 years at HM, Ladd feels that the joy of teaching spurs from the close relationship between the student and teacher. “There’s a Greek word, lampros, which means ‘shining’ or ‘bright.’Your teaching has to be bright. It has to be inspiring. And it has to be something the students want to reach for,” she said.