English Curriculum

4 year graduation requirement
The English curriculum introduces students to the world of literary expression with its great potential for illuminating human experience.
Its vertical structure is designed to develop in all students over four years the knowledge and skills needed to perform well on the Advanced Placement exams in both language and literature. As a result, every text in every class is part of a vertical A.P. curriculum, and the most demanding literary works appear in courses throughout the program.
All courses develop students’ attentiveness to language and meaning and the ability to justify interpretations in writing with reference to a text and its context.

English Survey Courses

Freshman Year : English I

English I is a literature-based course for first-year students to introduce them to the demands of high school reading and writing. The course emphasizes the development of the active reading skills needed for high school work, and the development of proficiency in writing about reading. Readings familiarize students with genres, conventions, and concepts essential to understanding great works of the imagination.

Readings are arranged thematically around stories of the individual as an outsider and as a member of a community and include Persepolis, The Odyssey, 1984, Antigone, Macbeth, selected poetry, and other short fiction. Summer reading is required.

Sophomore Year : English II
English II continues the development of students’ reading and writing skills and the study of genres, themes, and concepts begun in the first year. Students strengthen their abilities to support, test, and complicate conclusions drawn from reading and discussion. Fall work introduces the theme of the dangers and rewards of self-assertion through readings in foundation works of Western literature including biblical stories common to both Jewish and Christian traditions and a Shakespeare play.

Winter and spring work develops these themes as expressed in works by American writers such as Whitman, Dickinson, Douglass, MacLeish, Fitzgerald, Williams, Cisneros and Alexie. Summer reading is required.

English Elective Courses


Defining American Selves
American Literature I Honors
American Strand

This term-long course focuses on one of the common themes in American literature: defining the American self with particular attention to the role of Transcendentalism in American culture. The works studied deal with the struggle to be independent of society while maintaining its acceptance and respect. Texts include Into the Wild, Their Eyes Were Watching God, Self-Reliance, Civil Disobedience, Bartleby the Scrivener, “The Story of an Hour,” and The Scarlet Letter. In addition to written texts, students consider paintings by Thomas Cole and other American landscape artists. The course develops students' writing skills through frequent compositions and regular study of grammar, usage, and vocabulary. Summer reading is required.
The Composing Process
American Literature V Honors
American Strand

American Literature V: The Composing Process is a writing course required of all juniors. With almost daily in-class writing and coaching from their teachers, students work on: thinking reflectively, finding a subject, developing and expressing ideas, supporting with detail, using language effectively, applying conventions, and developing a voice. Through discussion and critiques students develop a conscious sense of their own “composing process” and learn to assess the strengths and weaknesses of their own and others’ writing. The course calls attention to key genres and terms covered by the Advanced Placement Exam in Language and Composition.


Race and Space
American Literature II Honors
American Strand

This term-long course explores the construction of race in American culture in the seventy-five years following the Civil War. The texts focus on ways that individuals create, maintain, and protect unique racial and moral spaces for themselves and the conflicts inherent in doing so within a broader hegemonic framework. Students begin by briefly examining in texts both visual and literary two dominant visions for American society that emerge from the Civil War. The course continues with a study of Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man.

Throughout the course, students analyze and discuss poetry, music, and works of art by such figures as Paul Lawrence Dunbar, Langston Hughes, Aaron Douglas, and others. The course develops students' writing skills through frequent compositions and regular study of grammar, usage, and vocabulary.
 Susee Witt
Dr. Susee Witt, English Teacher


Malik Ali
English Teacher
History Teacher
Track Coach
Year Started: 2002
(415) 455-7144
Susan Clark
Chair of English Department
English Teacher
Year Started: 1981
(415) 455-7128
Courtney Duke
English Teacher
Rand Center Assistant
Year Started: 2015
(415) 455-7150
Livingston Miller
English Teacher
Year Started: 2011
(415) 455-7206
Bijani Mizell
English Teacher
Director of Community Service
Year Started: 2012
(415) 455-7164
Jorge Rodriguez
English Teacher
Class Dean
Year Started: 2002
(415) 455-7169
Jeff Symonds
English Teacher
Music Teacher
Director of PETL
Year Started: 1991
(415) 455-7143
Susee Witt
English Teacher
Year Started: 2008
(415) 455-7149