Disc Golfing and A Zombie Language: A Conversation with Dr. Buchheim

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If you’ve gone through the Casady Middle Division on your journey to the Upper School, you have definitely encountered Magistra Titus, Mr. Bryan, or even Mr. Hoffman. Latin is one of the trademarks of a full Casady education, and, if you’ve chosen to pursue it in high school, chances are that you’ve run into Dr. Andrew Buchheim. 

Dr. Buchheim received his doctorate from the University of Missouri and came to Casady after a year of teaching Latin and Classical Studies at the University. He originally intended to stay a professor, but when the pandemic shut everything down, universities stopped hiring Latin professors, so he went on the search for other jobs. “Oklahoma I never thought of,” he said, when asked about what brought him here. “It was just the state I drove through to get to Texas.” He has some family ties to the Sooner State, as his great-grandfather was born in Hooker, Oklahoma, but, aside from his new post as a Latin teacher at Casady, he never “gave it much mind or consideration.”

Growing up, Dr. Buchheim was always interested in the Romans, from their culture and lifestyle to their crushing battle style, and, in seventh grade, he started taking Latin. Not offered in eighth grade, he picked it back up immediately his freshman year and continued until his graduation from high school. “I was like, ‘all right, you know,’ I really like this, I’m good at it, my teacher looks like he’s having a blast, so I’ll do that too–but I’m going to get a PhD.”

While he intended to stay as a Classics Professor, he says the more he’s “thought about university life compared to high school life, there are attractions to both, and there’s something nice about teaching in high school, too. You’re not jaded like some of the college kids can be.”

Although he’s only been teaching for a few years, Dr. B already knows his favorite part of teaching: the “A-Ha Moments,” the looks in his student’s faces when they finally start to understand something that was “super-duper weird that [they] already probably do in English but don’t realize it.” This, along with sharing the general weirdness of the Latin culture, is why he chose to go into the field of education.

In the greater world outside of Casady, Latin is shrinking back into a dead language. Not considered a priority in colleges and in the public school system, Latin programs are being cut left and right. “I had a buddy who graduated a few years before me and went to teach at a small school in the northwest. The Classics Department was him and another guy who was on the brink of retirement. A year or two later, they cut his program and he lost his job.” Considering the size of the Casady community, he was “amazed at the commitment to Latin at this school. It’s definitely refreshing to know that Casady has a lot of care and concern invested in Latin and the Ancient World that they’re willing to keep full-time faculty for it, especially considering how it’s being cut across the nation.”

Believing that Latin should be reinstated in high schools across the country, Dr. B commented, “It comes down to this conception of usefulness. Usefulness doesn’t seem a really great metric in which to offer classes, as it’s a hard scale to pan out to measure classes that way.” Looking at the numbers, though, students benefit widely from taking Latin, with percentage increases in both the ACT and SAT test scores in schools that offer Latin.

Although it is widely believed that teachers exist just in school, Dr. Buchheim has a few hobbies that have kept him engaged outside of just teaching and Latin. He and his father picked up disc golf two and a half years ago, and he hasn’t looked back since. He regularly makes time for it on the weekends and once shared that surprisingly, Oklahoma has a few okay disc golf courses. When asked if he would sponsor a disc golfing club in the UD, Dr. Buchheim said “of course,” and that all anyone had to do was ask and he’d try to make it happen. 

So, if you see him around campus, make sure to stop and say hi to one of the coolest, disc-golf-playing, Latin-teaching guys ever to set foot at Casady School.