The Saint Gertrude High School English Department is structured so that students progress through a reading and writing program designed to foster analytical thinking, cultural knowledge, and exceptional writing. Focusing on works from varied cultures, eras, and genres, the courses use chronological and thematic approaches so that students learn how different writers have answered universal questions.

Because the department emphasizes writing as process, teachers work closely with students on writing assignments and research papers. Intensively interactive, the English classes cultivate each student’s potential during her years at Saint Gertrude High School. Students graduate well prepared for the rigorous reading and writing demands of college courses.

Whole School Summer Reading began in 2003 with our selection of Tracy Chevalier’s Girl with a Pearl Earring; the work for 2010 was Terry Pratchett’s Nation. Honors Course Placement is determined by teacher recommendation, student performance, and student motivation.

Because these courses are writing and reading intensive, students must have high levels of interest and aptitude. Students apply each year for honors and AP courses, and students easily transition between honors and regular classes.

English Courses

This one-semester elective course offers students an opportunity to watch, read, analyze, and write varied texts – from films to short stories to poems.  With an emphasis on in-class workshops and varied experimentation with style, the course emphasizes participation and creativity.  Students will learn what makes an effective text and how revisions can improve a work in progress.  This elective course is open to all grade levels.

This course introduces Saint Gertrude High School freshmen to the expectations of high school reading and writing. Taught with the Social Studies Department, the course integrates contemporary and classic works. Students work on study skills, vocabulary, and strengthen their writing.  English 9 prepares students to be effective and analytical readers and writers.  Core vocabulary, study skills, PSAT/SAT preparation, research skills, and technology skills will also be introduced throughout the year.

This demanding and intensive honors level course challenges students as it prepares them for success in future honors level courses. In addition to the literature component of the course, students write extensively. Taught with the Social Studies Department, the course integrates contemporary and classic works from different cultures and eras. SAT-based vocabulary words, study skills, PSAT/SAT preparation, research skills, and technology skills are also stressed throughout the year.

Students read classic and contemporary texts from world and American literature after 1300 as they explore the relationship between history and literature. They write an annotated bibliography and present a speech about an important historical figure. Vocabulary study continues to focus on its connection to reading comprehension, writing, and PSAT preparation. The writing program focuses on a development of highly structured expository and argumentative essays designed to hone the student’s ability to present and support a clear, logical analytical argument.

This course examines texts written after 1300 to the present. Because literature relates to its era, the course connects closely with the World History curriculum to demonstrate the connections among art, literature, and history. Students read poetry, essays, and short stories that relate thematically to main texts. During the second semester, students write a research paper and create a virtual exhibition about an artist’s relationship with his/her era as part of a collaborative assignment with Honors World History. Students write expository, narrative, descriptive, and persuasive essays. They study vocabulary and practice for PSATs.

This course traces the evolution of American literature and such thematic elements as the American dream, the Rebel, and the Satiric Eye as they study the corresponding era in U. S. History class and complete such interdisciplinary projects as a research paper about the reform movements of the nineteenth century and a 1950’s webpage. Through the study of complete works from a variety of authors, students further develop close reading skills and improve upon their ability to critically analyze literature. In addition to extensive reading, students will practice expository and critical writing. In the spring, they review strategies for the SAT and ACT tests.

Students work throughout the year on critical reading and writing strategies with an emphasis on complete works and expository writing skills. Honors English 11 traces the American literary heritage from its British roots and Native American traditions to the present. This class’s approach to literature is generally chronological; for this reason, reading assignments often correspond to the eras students study in U.S. History. This course prepares students for Advanced Placement English their senior year.

Students read novels and poems from world and American literature that enhance their chronological study of the classics of British literature. To prepare her for college level work, the student writes and revises extensively. During the first quarter, students complete essays for college applications and review intensely for standardized tests. Completed with the support of the technology department, their fourth quarter research project presents a student-written, taped, and edited moved based on one of their readings.

This college-level course is designed for students with exceptional ability and achievement in English. Students demonstrate a mature understanding and critical appreciation of literature. Different critical approaches help students to understand the novels, poems, essays, plays, and works read in class. In May, students take both AP examinations – the English Language and Composition and the English Literature and Composition. Scores for the two examinations usually earn students three to twelve college credits (depending on score and college/university).

English Department Faculty

Michael Wilson

Colleen Savino

Rebecca Velde

Teacher of:  English 9 & 11 Hometown: Vienna, Virginia Years in Teaching: 7 Community Activities: Pastoral Council Representative, Cathedral of the Sacred Heart Fun Facts: Loves exploring Richmond - trying new restaurants, visiting [...]