Beau Henson

When he’s not working with students, Zinc tutor and Boot Camp instructor Beau Henson is finishing a Ph.D in Classics. His dissertation combines classical myth, languages, and culture with popular music as a way of creating new interdisciplinary pedagogical tools. As Beau explains, “Basically, it’s Weird Al for mythology.” Beau is currently spending many hours writing and working on his demo website, Check out the “Music” tab to listen to songs based on Homer’s Odyssey, the poetry of Sappho, and Greek myths such as “Pyramus and Thisbe” and “Orpheus and Eurydice.” For aspiring classicists, Beau’s included references to the ancient texts that inspired each song.

This summer, Beau teaches the morning section of our June SAT/ACT Boot Camp. We asked Beau about life-changing teachers, college advice, and what’s great about standardized tests.

Who was your favorite teacher and why?

In college, I studied under Susan Ford Wiltshire, an incredibly accomplished and impressive woman. She was the president of a major professional society, she helped to create Alternative Spring Break at colleges across the country, she wrote authoritatively on the Roman poet Vergil. She was herself a poet, and, most importantly, a compassionate and thoughtful teacher. When I was having trouble in her Latin poetry class early on, she listened to my issues, and, rather than scolding me for failing to rise to her standards, offered me help in finding remedial work to catch up to the appropriate level. I now teach Latin myself, and I have never forgotten how her understanding approach convinced me that I could stick with classics and be successful, even if I was having a tough time at the moment.I think of this interaction often when my student hit rough spots on their ways to higher scores, or when their scores decrease. Some students benefit from tough love, sure, but compassion and understanding should be the starting point.

What do you wish someone had told you when you were going through the college process?

I wish someone had told me that, as a potential student, you are auditioning the college as much as they are auditioning you. In other words, finding a place that excites you and one where you feel you can fit in is far more important to your engagement with education than finding somewhere with impressive admission stats or famous alumni. I visited several elite schools before I found where I belonged, and I could feel I belonged as soon as we toured campus. So, listen to yourself, not just to US News & World Report.

What’s fun about the SAT or ACT?

The ACT and SAT are fun because they give you a chance to use what you’ve learned, and they present you with 3-4 hours of puzzles. Who doesn’t love puzzles? If we look at these tests like a bunch of riddles to crack, one after the other, they become a lot less formidable and a lot more modular. Don’t know 34-down in the crossword? Eh, move on to 53-across. Maybe it’ll come to you.

Beau and his daughter Penny are ready to take on the SAT!