Don't tell Caroline Miklosovic that Latin is a dead language.
She's quick to point out to students, to colleagues, even to strangers, that Latin is alive and well and found in everyday language.
"Status quo" and "incognito" are just two of the examples that roll off her tongue as she expounds on the virtue of teaching an ancient language today.
Her adeptness at weaving the language in with studies of literature and art is part of the reason she was named Foreign Language Teacher of the Year for the Augusta area in 2000.
On Thursday, she will be named 2001 Teacher of the Year by the Foreign Language Association of Georgia.
The 1997 recipient of the Richmond County Teacher of the Year award, Mrs. Miklosovic is popular with students and parents alike.
"What can you say?" said her principal, James Thompson. "She's obviously doing something right."
"She's fantastic," said parent Jeanne Stroebel. Both of Mrs. Stroebel's children, Susan and Paul, had Mrs. Miklosovic as a teacher at John S. Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School. "She's energetic; she gets the kids involved in learning; she's everything a teacher should be."
Lounelle Beecher, the Richmond County Board of Education social studies coordinator, said Mrs. Miklosovic was nominated by a fellow teacher at Davidson, then reviewed by a statewide committee of her peers.
Her 2001 award is also based on her teaching performance and the performance of her students.
"She loves Latin, she loves students, and she enjoys teaching," Mrs. Beecher said.
Mrs. Miklosovic, 53, smiles when asked what made her decide to teach, of all subjects, Latin. After all, she was told, it's not as if every high school has a Latin department or even a single Latin class.
After high school, Mrs. Miklosovic enrolled at Georgia State University, where she earned her undergraduate degree, then went to the University of Texas for her master's degree.
"I wanted to be a lawyer, but then I fell in love with Latin, my Latin lover," she said.
Mrs. Miklosovic, who's daughter also is a teacher, said she is popular with the students because she respects them and they, in turn, respect her.
"That's the secret to my success," she said. "That's it.
"You've got to respect the students. If you show them respect, they'll show you the same respect. If you establish a comfort level with them, the students feel more comfortable asking questions and opening up."
She said she considers herself lucky to be able to teach students about something she loves. She said it's important for students to learn about the classics and to be informed and interested in history, the arts and language.
Mrs. Miklosovic said her favorite part of her job is the children.
"I love teaching them, and I love learning from them," she said. "You know, people say children have changed, but I think they're wonderful."
Reach Justin Martin at (706) 823-3552.