Abby Lease

Credentials: Religion and Theology Teacher, Edgewood Campus School

Lease headshot

Majors & Certificate: Classical Humanities and History, Certificate in European Studies
Year of Graduation: 2011

View this video to learn more about Abby and the impact her liberal arts education has had on her choice of teaching as a career.

Since graduating from UW-Madison in 2011, I have been a secondary education humanities teacher in the Madison area. From 2011 to 2019 I was at St. Ambrose Academy, a Catholic Classical middle and high school, teaching Latin and history. I shifted to part-time instruction in 2016 with the birth of my first child, and second in 2018. Summer 2020, I completed my Masters in Classical Studies with an emphasis in Latin from Villanova University. As of the fall of 2020, I am working full-time again for at Edgewood Campus School as a religion and theology teacher for 7th and 8th grade, where I continue to incorporate Classical history, culture, and philosophy into contextual instruction of the ancient world.

What motivated you to study Classics in college?

As a freshman and sophomore, my focus had been on American history, with specific interests in the Revolutionary War and surrounding eras. I aimed to fill my schedule with relevant courses for that major, and yet depth, breadth, and language requirements led me to Classical Mythology, Latin, and “Explorations in European History: Roman Women and Men.” I found the Classical world enriching, and many more similar courses followed, leading to graduation with a double major in American History and Classical Humanities. The study of one is inextricable from the other, as the Founding Fathers were educated in the Classical method, studied Greek and Latin, read the philosophers, poets, and the historians, and looked to the examples and warnings contained therein. I also gained a great love of Latin- for the insight it offers into English and other Romance languages, and for the beauty of the language in itself. In addition, consistently having excellent professors and TAs in each course made it an easy decision to keep investigating the Classics.

How did your Classical Humanities major impact what you did after college, and are doing now?

If I had not become a Classical Humanities major, my professional life would not be what it is today. The skills and information I gained in my history and Latin courses proved to be what my to-be employers were looking for at the time of my interviewing, and the job was the perfect fit. As a history and Latin teacher, practically every course taken within the CANES Department manifests itself in my classroom in some way. In the past several years, there have also been opportunities to take my students to the UW campus to enjoy relevant lectures, exhibits, as well as the high school visit day in the department. To continually utilize my alma mater as a resource for my career in such a multitude of ways has been a great privilege.

What do you remember about your major or classes in Classics? What were the highlights?

What I remember and value most about my experience in the Classics Department, aside from the practical knowledge and academic skills, was the smaller academic community found within the enormous university. Aside from capstone seminars, in no other classroom in other departments did I really get to know my classmates and my instructors. This sense of community truly contributed to the dedication of my college studies to the Classical world. My time in the department was also highlighted by a three-week summer study abroad trip to Italy, which was extended by three classmates and myself with one additional week in Greece. This experience provided extraordinary insights to the ancient Greco-Roman world, which I share with my own students in the classroom every year.