A Special Talk with Mr. Mallon, East’s Latin 4A Teacher


By Amanda Ojeda

Mr. Mallon is East’s newest member of the LOTE department, and currently teaches Latin 4A. “Over the last seven years, my Latin classes have been in each of the high schools, but first and mostly at South High, teaching all levels”, Mr. Mallon said. He has a special place in his heart for Latin 4 as it’s generally made up of promising students who aspire to curate their Latin skills. Mr. Mallon caters to this curiosity by implementing Friday reading days, much like those in the English Department. However, his special twist on reading days is that students must read Latin novellas, many of which retell classical stories, of both the popular and lesser known nature.

He grew up in the village of Hamburg, where he currently resides. He recalls the similarities of present Hamburg to how it was in the 50’s and 70’s with much nostalgia. “I graduated in the Hamburg class of ’70 and went to Hamilton College in the town of Clinton, near Utica. At that time Hamilton had no required math or science; since I already knew from struggling with high school Physics and Chemistry that my skills lay elsewhere, I wanted the freedom to follow my own path.”

I thought it would be nice to ask Mr. Mallon about his favorite parts of Buffalo, since he’s a native to the greater Buffalo region. He relishes in the amazing architectural history of Buffalo, such as the amazing parks. From the Olmstead park system to Chestnut Ridge, the place where he alongside his sister and brother learned to downhill ski. This passion developed during his high school, but in college he fell in love with X-country skiing. “I was able to ski marathons in Vermont, Canada, and in WNY near Chautauqua; Canada’s National Marathon was two days duration, fifty miles each day, an endurance race where you are simply glad to be able to finish.”

Another special part of Buffalo is the “fandemonium” and pride in our professional sports teams. Some of Mallon’s favorite sports are lacrosse, hockey, and football. He also loves to support East kids and attend their games whenever they go up against Hamburg. Overall, these are the aspects of Buffalo that make him a proud Buffalonian.

During class, he often speaks with great adoration about Mrs. Mallon. From her social justice work alongside their daughter, to her skills as a caregiver. The couple also has weekly Fish Fridays, where they eat out or in, enjoying various styles of food. “When the summer and spring weather is suitable, dining with a view of lake Erie is marvelous. Rodneys and Hoaks are two great places to enjoy a meal with a view. We also have a liking for the menu at Old Orchard restaurant in S. Wales.”

In regards to his journey with Latin and Greek literature, his intrigue originated with a book he had read as a child, a book which he shared with his 4A students. However, he didn’t know he would pursue Latin as a profession until his senior year of college. “My advisor taught philosophy, but my interest in philosophy was almost exclusively the ancient Greeks. I liked history too, but again it was the ancient world of Greece and Rome that attracted me. After two years, I was a major in Comparative Religion, and Hamilton College gave me my first lessons in Greek; Latin, which I had not studied in high school or college, came into the picture in grad school.”

After graduation, he joined two other teachers who were alumni of Hamilton, and taught at the Gow School in East Aurora. The Gow school, being his first experience teaching, was what he likes to call a “teacher’s baptism-by-fire!” Teachers lived in dorms as well as the students, they even had to teach Saturday classes, only having every other week off. Though it was trying at times, he remembers having plenty of fun running and skiing at Emory Park.

Though Latin is one of his favorite languages, Mallon has an affinity for every language. His top three being Latin, Greek, and German. He loves Latin and Greek equally because of the shared literature and historical sources. “My Masters study required both languages, Latin and Greek. Additionally, one summer I enrolled in a program called the Institute of Balkan Studies in Thessaloniki, northern Greece.” His love for French came easily since his mother’s family is from Quebec. To foster this passion, he took a summer course at Laval University outside Quebec City. During college he had taken 2 years of German, and although he hasn’t mastered conversational ability, he is able to read German (not without struggle, he adds). If you have a love for language Mr. Mallon advises you to ‘”seize the day” any time you find an opportunity to study abroad!”

When asked about his teaching philosophy, he says, “My teaching is a creative response to the challenges of showing students that Latin, a so-called” dead language “, is in fact relevant. It is so much a part of the English which we use all the time, that investing in Latin while still in high school will be rewarding.” He also loves to cater to the different motivations each student has for entering Latin; some love literature and history, while others see it as an “asset” for a medical, writing, and law profession. He uses these motivators to develop student’s “grammar toolkit”, so they can develop the skill to analyze not only Latin but English texts too.

As a final piece of advice to East students, Mallon encourages students to cultivate their writing skills by putting an effort into improving their writing and reading skills. “If you love literature, find out and read authors who are non-English writers and poets, but also dive deeply into the classical Greek and Roman authors.” On behalf of the East Latin 4A students, I would like to thank Mr. Mallon for his genuine enthusiasm about teaching and helping his students. Additionally, we are honored to have learned the value of writing, reading, and how Latin lays the foundation for those skills. It is fitting to say, verba volant, scripta manent: words fly away, writings remain.