Meet Ed Heffernan of the Class of 2011

Meet Ed Heffernan of the Class of 2011

“Even though I felt that the pressure of academics at Ave was sometimes back-breaking, it was an essential part of my success in graduate school. There were no projects at the graduate level that I had not first experienced at Ave.” 

Those are the vivid words Edward F. Heffernan, who graduated from Ave Maria University in 2011 and went on to earn an M.A. in Latin Pedagogy from the University of Arizona, uses to explain how his education at AMU prepared him for postgraduate work.  

While at AMU, Ed had the opportunity to take the National Latin and National Greek exams; he earned summa cum laude on the Latin and magna cum laudeon the Greek. Besides seizing opportunities to further his interest in Classical languages, Ed also was a member of the men’s household, Brotherhood of Divine Love, and Vice President of the student ice skating club, Skate Long Time.

After graduating in 2011, he went on to enroll in the Latin Pedagogy Master’s Program at the University of Arizona. Through the program, he jointly earned certification for Secondary Education, completing courses in topics ranging from disability in the classroom to second language acquisition and teaching. For his graduate thesis, Ed wrote an educational commentary on Battista Guarini’s De Ordine Docendi et Studendi (1459).

While completing his graduate course work, Ed worked as a Teaching Assistant for some university courses on subjects such as ancient Roman culture and topography, Greek and Roman Mythology, and Medical Terminology. “One of the highlights,” he recalls, “was the autonomous teaching I did in a Latin reading class that covered the highlights of Virgil’s Aeneid. I created my own lessons, tests, and activities for this class.”

As part of the program’s teaching certification process, Ed was required to teach full-time at a local high school for a semester. “This was an incredible help—to apply what I had only learned as abstract ideas in my education classes,” he says. After earning his Master’s and teaching certification, Ed took a job at that same school, Salpointe Catholic High School. “I had the great fortune of being hired to replace the Latin teacher I had worked with as a student-teacher,” he explains. “Even as a student-teacher, I was so warmly received it reminded me of the generosity and enthusiasm I experienced at AMU.” Salpointe is a leading college preparatory school in Tucson, Arizona, and has been serving the community for over fifty years.

Ed feels that, although sometimes grueling, the pressure to meet academic standards at AMU prepared him well for the demands of an M.A. program. “The presentations that I had to make on my research in Latin Church Fathers [LATN 304]—in all my Latin and Greek classes—and in a special topics Literature class I took on Flannery O’Connor broke my fear of public speaking and trained me to give essential information in a clear and concise way. They also helped me communicate my love of the topic—something that I continue to do in each of my Latin classes.”

In 2013, Ed received the University of Arizona Department of Classics Sandra Rhead Jones Graduate Student Latin Teaching Award, an annual cash award that supports the Latin teaching pursuits of a graduate student in the department. In 2014, he was awarded the Jim Doidge Graduate Student Latin Award for outstanding work in his Latin courses.  

On his academic successes, Ed comments: “I could not have succeeded as I have in graduate work without all my [undergraduate] Classics professors at Ave Maria University: Dr. Nodes, Dr. Ritter, Dr. Dinan, and Dr. Yarbrough. To them I give many thanks.”

In 2015, Ed moved with his wife, Angela, to northern Virginia in the metro D.C. area to take over the Latin program at South Lakes High School, a public school in Fairfax county. He embraces the challenge of bringing a love for Latin to his students and growing an already successful Latin program.

As for the future? Ed is interested in the direct and communicative aspect of language teaching. “Proficiency through Reading and Story-telling (TPRS),” he says, “has begun to catch fire in the Latin teaching community, and versatility of TPRS can create a very engaging and fun classroom.” He also hopes to continue to pursue his love of Medieval Latin, and he uses every opportunity to introduce it in the classroom.