CHICAGO — WGN’s October Teacher of the Month is making Latin relatable and fun for students at St. Rita of Cascia High School.

Mr. William Dolan is helping students make historical connections, fueled by his curiosity and passion for teaching and learning.

The Latin language is pulsing with life for his students.

“I would certainly hope that they at the very least are able to look at a couple of words in English and see the living Latin beating heart at the center of them,” he said.

Mr. Dolan has always been fascinated by the ancient world.

“I was the weird kid in the corner of the playground teaching myself middle Egyptian and hieroglyphics as a 5th and 6th grader,” he said.

He started his teaching career before he even finished elementary school giving slide presentations on Egypt to other students.

“Once I started to do Latin in high school, my love of ancient Egypt spread to a love of the wider ancient Mediterranean,” he said.

And he’s been spreading that love at St Rita for the past seven years.

His M.O.? Making Latin relatable.

“My goal is to make them see, despite the distance of 2000 years between us, and them not much has changed other than the outside trappings,” he said. “So one of the joys of teaching Latin is once you get through the basic stuff, you can start looking at the literature and the world of the ancient romans opens itself up to you.”

Dolan has grand plans for the money donated by award sponsor Ankin Law.

“I have been begging for money for what’s seemed like ages so that is going to buy us a classroom set of textbooks,” he said. “So excited for it.”

He also leads the school’s Latin club and works with the scholastic bowl team. And he’s committed to furthering his own education.

“I was busier during the pandemic than I had ever been before because I was taking about seven different classes online,” he said.

He said he hopes to serve as a model for his students, to find what they love and pursue it with bona fide enthusiasm.

“My crazy little world isn’t for everybody but for some I hope they feel seen, they feel heard, they feel loved and they know if they need me I’m here for them,” he said.