Ode to Joan Daniels


I just finished my evening walk, and as I strolled I reviewed the Spanish vocabulary on my index card. I have started the Rosetta Stone program for Spanish and am really enjoying it. What I discovered today is the need to figure out some conjugations for verbs, so I can get a handle on how verbs go together.

I have always loved languages. Thanks to Joan Daniels, who introduced me to Latin my 9th grade year in high school. I fell in love with the language and the woman who would be one of the most important influences in my education. She understood the meaning of gifted education way ahead of time. She suffered from psoriasis, and I think she was single her whole life. She had a superb sense of humor and a great singing and comedic talent – she would participate in the faculty talent shows each year.

Moving to New York state the beginning of my junior year meant the end of Latin for me. I did get back in the late 60s (Sterling in 1969 applying for a teaching position), and then again in 1986, both times to thank her for how much she meant. And both times she mentioned to present students that I was the only person she ever had who took second and third year Latin at the same time. I dearly miss the woman, but at least I had two chances to say thank you.

This was the beginning of my love affair with language. Latin 1 was so easy, and I loved the translations. The beginning of my 10th grade year, it was obvious that I remembered all my Latin and didn’t need review, so she added me to the third year class. It meant having to come in an hour earlier for the class, which was fine with me. I also took French 1 at the same time. And I ended up representing the school in the state Latin contest for both second and third-year Latin. This was so important for me, because it was some of the only validation I got for my intelligence.

I still can conjugate and do declensions, and I pull in the vocabulary piece of Latin constantly in class. I can compare some simple sentences, so kids can see the similarities. Now it’s all coming back as I work with the Spanish, knowing which verbs will probably be irregular, agreement in case and number, and so on. Some of the words for nouns are similar, but I am wondering where “pasto” for grass came from….

So Miss Daniels – I hope you are looking down from Latin heaven to know just how much you meant to me! All my love – Linda Lemke

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