LSMSA’s new Latin Teacher puts the ‘Fun’ back in ‘Fundamentals’

LSMSA Teacher

LSMSA – Many students decide to take Spanish or French when learning a language. Not Morris Tichenor, the Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts’s (LSMSA) new Latin instructor. Back when he was attending Slidell High School in Louisiana, he wanted to learn what he thought would be the most challenging language.

“Latin sounded like what smart kids would take, and I considered myself a smart kid back then,” Tichenor joked. From there, he realized his love for breaking down languages to their fundamental roots.

Latin is not a typical direction most would take with their studies. However, Tichenor’s high school Latin teacher, Manfred Schexnayder, sparked his interest in the language, and that passion followed him through his postsecondary studies.

“In college, I couldn’t decide between pre-law and pre-med,” said Tichenor. “I decided on pre-law, but I realized that, to me, learning ethics was really boring. I took some Latin classes and realized that learning that was the fun part for me.”

Tichenor received his undergraduate degree in Classical and Medieval Studies at Tulane University in New Orleans. After graduating, he pursued a Master’s in Medieval Studies at the University of Toronto, where he would later work before coming to LSMSA. Tichenor was also a submarine driver for the U.S. Navy before he began pursuing his Ph.D. at the University of Toronto.

As a teacher, his goal is to get students excited about words. “Latin may not help you out immediately, but what it does is teach students English,” he expressed. “It breaks down grammar, what a sentence is, and how it’s constructed. By studying a dead language – by dissecting it and seeing all of the skeletal parts of it – you can see how English is put together.”

Currently, Tichenor is teaching Latin I, Latin II, and Greek Tragedy. In the future, he will offer Sport and Spectacle in the Ancient World, as well as a special project on book history and print culture. In addition to teaching, he will revive the Junior Classical League at LSMSA, which focuses on encouraging the study of Latin and Greek among students and teachers.

Tichenor cited as his favorite quote: “Nescire autem quid antequam natus sis acciderit, id est semper esse puerum; to be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child.”

He expressed the importance of incorporating both history and present social events into his classes, as there are often similarities that can be found between the two.

“The kids are so bright at LSMSA,” he said. “They are much more receptive to instruction because they are interested in what they are learning.”

When he is not teaching, Tichenor can often be found cosplaying and attending comic conventions. Occasionally, he can be heard making references to some of his favorite animes and fandoms during his lectures. He has a wife and two sons, Quintus and Philip, whose names are derived from Roman and Greek culture.

Learn more about LSMSA’s Language Department, including course listings and faculty, at http://www.LSMSA.edu/languages.