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Faces of Baylor: Floyd Celapino
Steven Yao

"If it isn't done with love and joy and happiness, then it isn't worth doing. ” This is what Floyd Celapino has based his career at Baylor on for the past 48 years of teaching.

Although Celapino has said many noteworthy quotes over the years, this one is not his -- it belongs instead to a Carmelite monk from Milwaukee, Wisc. Naturally, your next question may be “why is Mr. Celapino basing his career off of the words of a random Carmelite monk?” and by asking
yourself that question, you can begin to understand Floyd Celapino. The Carmelite monk, Reginald Foster served as a Papal Latin secretary at the Vatican in Rome. Mr. Celapino studied Foster for two summers and now embraces his motto by teaching students first and content second. I love this story because it shows the quote, but also the background to it. Mr. Celapino has always encouraged his students--or anyone that will listen-- to not just witness, but be a part of their education.

Originally from the Pittsburgh, Pa. area, Celapino developed a love for Latin and learning. He went on to graduate Pennsylvania State University with an M.A. in classical studies as well as additional studies from American Academy (Rome), Villa Vergiliana (Naples), Pontificale Institute di Spiritualite (Vatican), Harvard University, and the University of Vermont.

After graduating from Penn State, he learned that Baylor was searching for a Latin teacher, and he applied. Young Celapino drove through the gates on a fall day in 1978 for his interview and at that moment he thought to himself,  “I’m never leaving.” Forty-eight years later, with the official titles of history/social science instructor and language instructor (Latin teacher) (he also organizes the scheduling for Baylor every year which is not an easy task, Celapino is retiring from Baylor School. During his time at Baylor, he has taught two generations of families, watched Baylor modernize with changing technology, move from all boys to co-ed, and observed former students become colleagues.

John Harrison, director of institutional advancement, recalls that Celapino was the cool teacher.  "He always had more in common with the students because he was so close to our age.  Although I never took Latin, he was a teacher that took an interest even with his non- students. He would sit down with us at lunch and talk to us as if it was peer to peer and not an ‘adult’ but instead treated everyone as an equal. He would talk about politics and current events.”

Tommy Hopper, participated in a trip to Italy with fellow Baylor graduates led by Celapino in the summer of 1984. Hopper remembers the trip as “the trip of a lifetime” as the group toured around Italy.

Although Baylor has changed over the years, teachers like Celapino are what makes Baylor the institution it is today. “The classic picture of Floyd was him sitting on the steps going into Hunter Hall and smoking cigarettes between classes. We loved to sit and talk to him. It would even make us late to class sometimes and we would just say, ‘oh I was talking to Mr. Celapino,' is how Harrison described his earlier relationship with Celapino. And the same is true today, minus the smoking part (he quit in 2009), Celapino still reaches out and cares for every student he encounters. During the 2017 Convocation, he spoke about the school's motto, Amat victoria curam, saying, “successes we enjoy depend upon the diligence we display, amat victoria curam."

(Editor's Note:  To read more about Mr. Celapino here is the link to a student-run Facebook page of Floyd Celapino )

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