By Zach Bostic
In the depths of the Saunders Family Library lies a trapezoidal room of Latin genius. Here, all Upper School Latin classes meet, ranging from Latin II to AP Latin, under the astute teachings of one man, Tyler Boyd. As head and sole member of Collegiate’s Upper School Latin Department, Boyd was preceded by the legendary coach and teacher Joel “Bossman” Nuckols, the main Upper School Latin teacher for over 30 years. After Nuckols’ retirement in 2015, Boyd took the reigns of classical studies at Collegiate.
A graduate of Monacan High School in Chesterfield County, Boyd attended the University of Virginia as an Echols Scholar. In this prestigious position, Boyd was able to take any class of his choosing, and his studies consistently revolved around the passion he had pursued since childhood: the Roman Empire and Latin studies. After graduating, Boyd completed three masters programs: A Masters in Classics from the University of Texas, a Masters in teaching Latin from Vanderbilt University, and later a Masters in Library Science from Catholic University. Following his second masters, Boyd reconnected with a friend from high school, Lily, whom he later married, and they have three children attending Collegiate.
Upon coming to Collegiate in 2005, Boyd began teaching Middle School Latin. Following his first year, Boyd, with support and encouragement from former Head of School Keith Evans and Head of the Middle School Charlie Blair, began reconstructing the Latin curriculum. “If most students only take Latin in the seventh grade, we thought we should design the program to maximize connections made between Latin and the real world, or Latin and the students’ other language,” said Boyd. For six subsequent years, Boyd perfected his incredibly detailed curriculum, showing the ways that Latin and Roman history relate to the modern world.
After his tenure as Middle School Latin teacher, Boyd moved to a position in the Reed-Gumenick Library, often helping students with research and class projects. After two years in RGL, he took on Upper School Latin. Since then, Boyd has been working to strengthen the curriculum for four-year Latin students in order to establish connections between all grade levels. Though many texts, like Petronius’ Satyricon or Mary Beard’s SPQR, are used in the Upper School, Boyd often relies on multiple forms of learning to ensure his students have a solid grasp on the material. With a plethora of documentaries and teaching videos about the Romans at Boyd’s disposal, Upper School Latin students are able to discover what they find most interesting about the Roman Empire and expand on it in their studies, while still maintaining a continuous study of grammar, vocabulary, and applications in translation. Although Latin translation is particularly challenging, Boyd presents it to his students in manageable portions to help build their skills diligently. As [six-year Latin scholar] Ashray Namala (‘18) stated, “our classical knowledge has been very beneficial across every academic discipline, and we have had quite the convivial time in our class.”
One of the class’s most interesting and engaging projects occurred last fall when we worked to virtually recreate the Roman town of Vindolanda with the help of STEAM Coordinator Dan Bartels. Using Boyd’s personal collection of books, along with online research and databases, last year’s Latin IV class, now seniors and AP Latin students, began setting the town layout, constructing buildings, and forming a nearly perfectly matched terrain to that of Vindolanda itself. The whole project was completed in sophisticated computer software originally designed for video game creators.
As a six-year Latin student myself, I have seen the benefits of the wonderful information the class imparts on its students, with Boyd’s teachings ensuring a wide breadth of knowledge across many disciplines of not only the Latin language, but also the lasting impact of Roman history and culture. Boyd’s words are a testament to his own love of the subject:
“In today’s world, effective Latin instruction must actively seek to alert students to the massive debt which the modern world owes to the Romans. As such, I focus on the timelessness of ‘The Roman Experience’ throughout Western Civilization: myth, history, literature, culture. (This focus is so far-ranging that the courses should most appropriately be named ‘Classical Studies II, III & IV.’) Within this framework, I am constantly tweaking my instruction to enable students both to experience the timeless breadth of this ‘Roman Experience’ and to prepare them to excel on the specificity required by the AP Latin Exam.”
As a result of Boyd’s many years teaching, he is able to tailor his classes to his student’s needs. The Latin program at Collegiate never fails to intrigue those involved, as both a fun and fascinating classroom environment are guaranteed.