Who are you/what is your current role in the community? When did you graduate/how long did you attend Sidwell Friends?
My name is Jake Watson (he/him/his), and I teach Latin in the Middle and Upper School. I graduated from Sidwell in 2018. I started Sidwell in kindergarten, so I’m a lifer!
What do you love about the Sidwell Friends community? How is it unique?
I love Sidwell. I feel so at home here. I think most workplaces and schools have a particular character to them, and to me, Sidwell’s feels really friendly. Other teachers are so excited to help me and get to know me.
When I was a student here, I felt like the community was really friendly as well. I felt comfortable being friends with everyone in my class. My closest friends from Sidwell are still some of my closest friends now nearly five years later. I’m very grateful to Sidwell for that.
Returning to Sidwell as a faculty member has been especially meaningful for me because I have transitioned from female to male since graduating high school. I’m my true self now, and I get to bridge my memories of Sidwell as a student with the current memories I’m making now as a teacher.
Can you share more about your teaching philosophy?
My teaching philosophy is that the classroom should be a collaborative space based on mutual trust between teacher and students. I think people learn best when they are having fun and feel connected to the classroom community.
In terms of teaching Latin specifically, several areas that interest me the most include: linguistics, Roman history, and Classical reception. One of my goals as a teacher is to introduce students to the questions that Classicists are asking beyond the high school level. My students know that I love talking about the etymology of Latin words. In college I also studied ancient Greek, which is related to Latin, so I like comparing the two languages for my students. This leads us to think about the history of Latin as a language. I also love studying Roman history and asking what language can tell us about a society. Primary sources in Latin allow us to know what the Romans were thinking about. Lastly, I hope to examine with my students how the Classical world influences our society today, and the problems that often entails. What does it mean when a movie references ancient Rome or has Latin in it? Studying the ancient world can help us unpack the messages that modern architecture, books, movies, or other things are saying when they bring in ancient Rome. I love teaching Latin and I’ve already learned so much more about the language because of this job.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
When I’m not teaching, I like to hang out with friends, watch movies, play video games, cook, read, and watch sports. I’m a big fan of the Washington Capitals. In fact, one of my favorite memories from high school was when I watched the Caps win the Stanley Cup with all of my friends from Sidwell. This was in my senior year of high school, a couple days before graduation.
What extracurricular activities were you involved with during your time as a Sidwell Friends student?
My main extracurricular activity at Sidwell was playing sports. I played hockey, field hockey, softball, and basketball when I was a student here. I loved extracurriculars, but mostly I enjoyed hanging out with friends, getting to know teachers, and spending my free time at the Fox Den.
What was your favorite memory/tradition as a student?
One of my favorite traditions as a student was Homecoming. I loved dancing in the pep rally and playing in the Homecoming field hockey game.
What piece of advice do you wish you had known when you were a Sidwell Friends student?
If I could give myself advice in high school, I would tell myself to ask teachers for help when I need it. Asking for help can be scary because you have to be vulnerable, and at the same time, it’s worth it.