English at GSA
Our English courses prepare students well for further study, but they also prepare our students for purposeful lives in a changing world, a key element of GSA's mission.
They prepare students for classes at GSA and college.
They help students become reflective and critical thinkers, learn to read at high levels through the development of main idea and inferencing skills, become adept at expository-analytical writing, the sort most frequently required in high school and college, understand a broad array of literary genres, and learn to participate in vigorous classroom discussions of literature and to see that academic discussions can be electric, exciting, passionate. At college, they are more likely be called on to help their peers with writing and grammar than to need such help.
Our students develop skills they need for life.
Classroom presentations and discussions, persuasive writing, personal essays, and participation in Senior Debate all empower our students to communicate more confidently in their lives after high school and college, whether to advocate for themselves or family members, to make proposals to their employers, to speak their minds at a town meeting or a public forum, or to write a letter to the editor of the local newspaper.
Nearly half draw substantially from local cultural and natural resources.
Maine Writers, Junior English, and other courses engage students with the work of Maine authors, works set in Maine, and Maine-related values and themes.
Senior Debate, part of Senior English, often focuses on Maine political, social, and economic issues.
Our Introduction to Literature course makes connections between readings and specific locations in the area, like cemeteries, the islands in Blue Hill Bay, woods, and streams, as well as to elements of local and New England culture, like burial rites.
More than half help students make substantial connections to our communities and the people here.
Local guest speakers have included Maine Poet Laureate Stu Kestenbaum and crime novelist Paul Doiron. Field trips and community interviews connect students in our English for Speakers of Other Languages courses to people the area, like those who work at the water treatment plant, library, town hall, and co-op.
The English Department embraces these objectives.
- to enable students to use language effectively, whether for a career, the job market, higher education, or lifelong learning;
- to develop in students an appreciation for literature, both prose and poetry, and for the variety of literary genres;
- to develop students' skill in rhetoric and debate, and an appreciation of its importance in a democratic society;
- to foster collaboration and shared inquiry among peers;
- to improve writing skills, including grammar, vocabulary, and style;
- to provide opportunities for students to express their passions and interests in writing and orally.
Along with our broad array of courses, we offer several extracurricular opportunities, including participation in the New England Young Writers' Conference at Bread Loaf, occasional local writing workshops, and Arts Fest mini-classes.