Unlike many of the other foreign languages offered at Bedford High School, there is only one latin teacher at the high school. During her time at Bedford High School Heather Wardwell has greatly improved the latin program and provided hundreds of students with the opportunity to learn more about Latin language, history, and culture. I had the opportunity recently to sit down and talk with Mrs. Wardwell about her journey and experience being a Latin teacher at Bedford High School. Mrs. Wardwell has an extensive repertoire of experience and history with Latin. “I’m from Rhode Island, and I went to UNH and majored in Latin as well as Greek, so I had a double major. I finished that in 3 years because I couldn’t get enough of it, and then I taught for 10 years. I then went and got my masters at the University of Southern California, I have my masters in TESOL.”
When asked about what inspired her to study Latin and her inspiration Mrs. Wardwell said “My first year I took Latin in high school, and I just liked it so much. But what changed for me is when I traveled overseas.” When mentioning her experiences overseas Mrs. Wardwell emphasized the importance of a global perspective and the effect it had on her education “I’ve traveled a lot, I went to Sweden while in high school as an exchange student. I’ve also been to South Africa, Costa Rica, Canada, and Venezuela as a kid. I’ve also been to England, France, Spain, Portugal, Georgia, Turkey, Italy, Morocco, Denmark. While I mostly taught in the United States I spent 3 years teaching in Azerbaijan.”
Mrs. Wardwell is truly a global citizen and has extensive experience traveling abroad, which influenced her passion and interest in language, and on top of speaking fluent Latin Mrs. Wardwell has experience with learning(as well as teaching) many other languages. “I used to study Portuguese and Italian, as well as some Russian and Turkish on my own. And Azerbaijani because I lived in Azerbaijan, and I majored in Latin and Greek and studied Spanish as well. I feel very comfortable speaking Spanish and Italian, but I majored in Latin and am certified to teach Latin as well as Spanish.”
On top of language, teaching is a true passion for Mrs. Wardwell. For Mrs. Wardwell one of the best parts of teaching is having the opportunity to watch students grow as students but also as people.
When it comes to Latin, for Mrs. Wardwell the classics are an integral part of education and a source of true fascination. And for many students the high school Latin program is a way to explore a wide variety of concepts and language and is of immense value. When I asked Mrs. Wardwell what she thought made Latin a valuable subject her response was best illustrates the importance of studying classics “It is so cool to be able to interpret and translate a “dead” language, even if at times it seems so hard and so impossible. It’s sort of like a word scramble or a jigsaw puzzle and it’s just really satisfying to be able to put together the pieces and be able to understand. I also liked how quizly I was able to advance with reading and writing because it wasn’t an oral language. It trains your brain.”
As is tradition for our teacher features, the final question I asked Mrs. Wardwell(and possibly the most important) was, What fruit you be an why? For Mrs. Wardwell the answer was a kiwi. “Probably a kiwi, because if you cut it in half and you take a scoop sometimes it’s super sweet but other times it’s just not ready yet.”