Estelle Bayer, who has taught Latin for 30 years at Madison Central High School, is the 2007 recipient of the Kentucky World Language Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
She will receive the honor Oct. 13 in Louisville.
“I was truly surprised,” Bayer said, “because I didn't think I was old enough to receive a lifetime award even though I am contemplating retirement.
Learning that her colleague of 16 years, Bari Clements, had nominated was most gratifying, Bayer said. “Bari is a wonderful person and teacher who cares about the teaching of Latin and her students as much as I do.”
News of Bayer’s award came as no surprise to Clements.
“Estelle is kind of an institution around here, and everyone knows that she works extremely hard,” Clements said. “Everyone is so pleased that she is to receive this award because we knows how deserving she is. I’m so please she received it before she retired.”
In announcing the award to Bayer, KWLA President Thomas Sauer said, “It would be impossible to list all of the impressive achievements and contributions you have made to the Latin community in your district, the state and on a national scene. Your dedication to teaching is evident not only by your work in the classroom, but your unparalleled involvement in professional development, teacher training and continuous promotion of the Latin language and culture.”
Clements said Bayer had been a role model for her. “As I began teaching, Estelle was the perfect mentor for me — setting high standards, modeling exemplary practices and advising me in the subtle nuances of education. She helped me to pick up the pieces whenever I floundered.”
Clements will introduce Bayer as she receives the award. “That will be an honor for me,” she said. “Estelle Bayer is the most deserving person I know. And everyone I have talked to shares that opinion.”
During her tenure at MCHS, Bayer has not kept Latin within the halls of one school. She initiated a Latin program at Mayfield Elementary School, tutoring a group of 15 fourth- and fifth-graders on a weekly basis.
Bayer is involved in several professional organizations in addition to KWLA. She is active in the Kentucky Classics Association, American Classical League, National Junior Classical League, Kentucky Junior Classical League, Classics Association of the Midwest and South, Vergilian Society and National Education Association/ Kentucky Education Association.
Her involvement has included more than membership. She has chaired many contests, conventions and associations during her career.
Bayer also is no stranger to awards. Her list of honors includes Richmond Chamber of Commerce Teacher of the Year, Ashland Oil Golden Apple Achiever Award, American Classical League Merita Award for sustained and distinguished service and she is looking forward to receiving the coveted silver bowl for attending 20 NJCL conventions.
In what may be her final year of teaching at MCHS, Bayer agreed to take over an English class. Teaching English was not new for Bayer, even if she had not taught the subject for a while. When she started at MCHS, her job included teaching both disciplines.
Many teachers planning to retire would balk at the idea of taking on a new class, Clements said. But, she added, everyone at Madison Central has come to expect this kind of giving and selflessness from Bayer.
“It was challenging to put a new set of lesson plans together over the summer,” Bayer said, “but I’ve really enjoyed teaching English again.”
Bayer retains her passion for teaching Latin, however. “I love sharing this beautiful language with my students.” She disagrees with those who call Latin a dead language. “The study of Latin helps students in the acquisition of all kinds of knowledge, not just the language itself.
Bayer said she got involved in organizations such as KWLA, KCA and the Junior Classical League to provide learning opportunities for her students outside of the classroom.
“These organizations helped me provide opportunities for my students to compete in academic, athletic, and graphic arts contests,” she said. “Our students have learned to run for leadership positions on local and state levels. They have gained confidence by working in teams to achieve goals, and they have had opportunities to visit universities and major cities across the United States.”