Saint Ignatius High School

Bringing Languages to Life

Latin teacher Brian Dybicz '99 is at home with Classics and in the classroom. This year, especially, he found creative ways to liven up life in his classroom. Here's the latest Front of the Class profile from the Spring 2021 issue of Saint Ignatius Magazine, written by Lisa Metro.

For Brian Dybicz ’99, the road to teaching was not rocky, but it did take some twists and turns. After graduating from Saint Ignatius High School, Dybicz headed to the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, where he initially majored in economics.  That did not feel like a good fit for him so he switched to political science. That still did not feel right. He had good friends who were Latin majors and they suggested he consider the Classics. Latin was his favorite subject in high school, so he gave it a try. Turns out, the third time really was the charm.

“I loved it,” says Dybicz. “The best part was the history and the stories and exploring Greek and Roman culture. I try to bring that to my teaching here.”

After college, Dybicz tried his hand at a few occupations including auto mechanic, commercial kitchen manager and a sales role at Sherwin-Williams. He began to have what he refers to as a “great feeling about teaching.” He opened his heart and mind to the idea and, almost simultaneously, he got a call from Saint Ignatius Latin teacher Joe Zebrak ’87 about an opening at Hathaway Brown. He applied for and got the job, and from the moment he entered the classroom he knew he had found his calling.
While he loved teaching at Hathaway Brown, when Zebrak reached out again in 2011 about an opening at their Alma Mater, Dybicz felt the gravitational pull.

“Ignatius always felt like home,” he says. “Not only had I gone here, many of my former teachers were still here. I felt comfortable with the department.” In fact, his classmates Jim Murphy ’99 and Dan Arbeznik ’00 were already part of it.

Zebrak, now the Department Chair, appreciates Dybicz’s gifts. “As an alumnus, Brian brings a love of his Alma Mater and a passion for Classical languages,” says Zebrak. “He has become a very strong teacher and has revamped several courses already.”

While many may view Latin as an archaic language, Dybicz brings it to life in his classroom.  Learning a language, he says, includes learning about other cultures. With Latin, the cultures may be ancient, but it’s still relevant in learning what makes people tick. Learning a language other than your own, says Dybicz, “expands your moral and cultural vocabulary. It makes you a citizen of the world.”

The Languages department at Saint Ignatius is an enthusiastic one. This is the group that brings us the Chariot Races and Gladiator Games year after year. When Dybicz was looking for a way to make AP Latin fun, he came up with the idea of having the students dress up on test days. This tradition began in 2015 when Dybicz had chosen the movie “The Untouchables” to end the year. The students dressed thematically and the idea took off from there. This year, with the pandemic and all the uncertainty surrounding it, Dybicz felt an even greater need to keep the fun going. His Honors Latin IV students wear hats in class – silly or classy, but always fun.

“We needed that,” says Dybicz. “It took so little effort, but brought smiles all around the room.”

Getting to know Brian

  • He is a music lover and self-taught guitar player. He views music as a language that “teaches the human condition.”
  • He is a die-hard Cleveland Indians fan.
  • Loves to hike and walk and discover all the nearby parks and paths.
  • He is turning into the cook he had hoped he would one day be.