We are delighted to announce that Mr. Sebastian Pagani is joining our faculty next year!
Mr. Pagani has been with Great Hearts since 2008. He obtained his first BA from St. John's College in Santa Fe, NM. He holds a second BA in Classical Philology from the University of Cincinnati, where he took multiple graduate level courses and was welcomed directly into the Ph.D. programme in Classics at the University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. In addition to Ancient Greek and Latin, Mr. Pagani had also taught Spanish and English before joining Great Hearts. He also served as the head Cross-Country and Track & Field coach at Scottsdale Prep, before he joined Veritas, where he helped to coach the Cross-Country team in his first year.
Mr. Pagani loves and continues to cultivate his knowledge of classical philology, literature, languages, and linguistics. He has created and led student & faculty clubs focussed on Old English, Old Norse, Old Irish, J.R.R. Tolkien's Linguistic Creations, Classical Hebrew, Conversational Latin, and Classical Latin verse composition. He is particularly fascinated by ancient languages, literatures, and music.
Our students prepared a few questions for Mr. Pagani:
When did you decide to become a teacher and why?
I always loved being in school, and I loved learning. Life is rich and beautiful when I am learning and discovering new (or very old) things. In college, every subject fascinated me, and I loved the structure that the academic life provided. I always enjoyed learning together with others and helping them with the languages. Joining Great Hearts only defined and formalized my vocation. At first, I did this because I loved the languages and the literature; I soon discovered that I loved spending my days with the students. The chance to continue pursuing the things I love and to share them with others has kept me in the profession.
How did you become interested in languages?
I discovered foreign language very early in life. My mother-tongue is Spanish, but I heard a lot of Italian and Portuguese as well before I even realized that these were different languages. When I finally arrived on north-American shores, I really could not speak English, and could not go to school until I had
learned it a year later. At the age of nine, I decided I wanted to learn German; this was the first language that I tried to learn from books. In school, I was given French, Latin, and more German. I went on to study more of these and other languages on my own from books and in my travels, and I never stopped.
The reason I love them so much is that each one is a different way of thinking or speaking; each has its own intellectual flavor and beauty, its own melody, rhythm, and musical quality; each is a different way of considering and experiencing the world. Languages make it possible for the student to travel through books to distant times and places.
How do you best connect with students?
Through the great literature that we read together; or through the languages we are studying. I like to run philological clubs that have focussed most recently on medieval languages: Old English, Old Norse, Old Irish, but also classical Hebrew, and Middle Egyptian (that’s hieroglyphic). I have also run clubs on Tolkien’s linguistic inspirations, conversational Latin, and Latin verse composition. I have thought about starting a creative writing club because I don’t think we do enough creative writing. I also like chatting with the students during lunch.
If you could have dinner with anyone from history or literature, who would it be?
Ah, but I do this all the time! I have the books, and when I sit to read I enjoy the thoughts and company of ancient minds in their own languages. A book is like a ship that carries a writer’s thoughts down along the streams of time until they should wind up upon our shores. When we open one of these books, we board that ship and find ourselves in other times and places.
The answer to such a question for me always varies according to my mood at any given moment, or perhaps depends upon what I am reading or studying at the time, but why limit this to a dinner? Let us spend a bit more time and see what we could do. Here is a brief list of possibilities that suggested themselves to me this time: Jesus, Charlemagne, Vergil, Ovid, Caesar, Cicero, Scipio Aemilianus Africanus, Livius Andronicus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, Clodia, Tolstoy, Herodotus, Albert Schweitzer, an Anglo-Saxon bard, J.R.R. Tolkien, Erasmus of Rotterdam, and St. Exupéry.
Welcome to North Phoenix Prep, Mr. Pagani!