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Congo named fellow by Fund for Teachers

MADISON – During summer vacation, Latin teacher Raymond Congo at Bob Jones High School will travel to a get-your-hands-dirty learning experience. He has been named a Fund for Teachers Fellow for 2017.

Congo’s award includes a grant for a two-week archaeological dig at a Roman fort, located along Hadrian’s Wall in northern England.

Fund for Teachers presents awards for summer fellowship grants to elementary and secondary teachers to pursue self-designed professional learning. Teachers decide what they want to learn and where.

Congo’s grant proposal stated he wanted to work at Vindolanda “to gain hands-on experience in archaeology and deepen my knowledge of ancient Roman society along the empire’s frontier and explore the use of walls in dividing societies.”

The Romans created Hadrian’s Wall as a barrier against today’s Scotland. Congo will discuss dividing societies through physical barriers and effects on societies on either side of the wall.

In 2016, Congo learned about Fund for Teachers from a Bob Jones administrator and knew immediately he wanted to apply. Previously, he had earned a Success Through Academic Research grant from the University of Alabama in Huntsville and photographed Roman archeological sites across England.

“On that trip, I learned about Vindolanda and their dig program. Vindolanda … has not yet been fully excavated. It’s an incredible opportunity to receive hands-on experience in the field … (and) a chance to discuss Roman culture with the dig’s leaders,” Congo said.

“Latin texts that survive focus on the educated elite. The information we do have on lower-class citizens is through archaeological remains,” he said.

Congo’s proposal in 2016 was narrowly accepted. His friend and colleague, Peggy Boynton who teaches German at James Clemens High School, suggested ideas for his new thesis.

This time, he focused on ways that building walls can influence a society. “Romans constructed Hadrian’s Wall to keep the Picts of Northern Scotland from entering the Roman province of Britannia,” Congo said.

“This wall was not only a physical barrier but also a cultural one. I believe this new focus on the societal impact of border walls is what allowed me to secure the grant,” Congo said.

Congo earned a bachelor’s degree from University of North Carolina at Wilmington and a master’s degree in classical studies from University of Kentucky at Lexington.

A Huntsville native, Congo returned 11 years ago to teach at Bob Jones. He was selected as Alabama’s 2017 Latin Teacher of the Year.

His children are fourth-grader Slade, 9; first-grader Evelynn, 7; and Zane, 4.

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