Curriculum Detail

Explore Our Curriculum


The Sage Hill English curriculum emphasizes the crucial value of the spoken and the written word, and the study of the human condition. In a seminar environment, each grade level focuses on one essential question that helps students discover who they are becoming as readers, writers, and speakers and empowers them to be change agents in their own world. In the freshman year, students explore who they are as readers and writers. In the sophomore year, students question who they are in relation to the world around them. Juniors examine their relationship to the American experience, and seniors reflect on the authors whose works have shaped their understanding of themselves.

At all grade levels, students examine literature of many genres that represent a broad range of historical and cultural perspectives, and the department meets annually to review text selections for each course. Student writing–both critical and creative–emerges from coursework and student interests, providing each student with a means of genuine inquiry. Each year culminates in a department-wide portfolio project, in which students compile much of their writing, analyze its rhetoric, and reflect upon the merits and meanings of their work in connection to that year’s essential question.
  • English I

    Freshman year qualifies as a rite of passage, and throughout this course students reflect upon the overarching theme of coming of age. Close, annotated readings and class discussions encourage students to appreciate and analyze >the elements of numerous literary genres: the classical and the contemporary Bildungsroman, autobiography, Shakespearean drama and poetry. While learning to read, write, think and speak critically and communicate persuasively, students gain knowledge of essential grammar, vocabulary and writing skills in the context of their work.
  • English II: World Literature

    The sophomore English course expands the scope of self-examination that began in the freshman year to include the world around us. Who are we, as readers, writers and thinkers in relationship to the world? Students read seminal examples of world literature, and they continue to develop analytic and creative writing skills through a thorough study of rhetoric, usage, vocabulary and composition. Students also connect their readings and writing with Service Learning work, where they mentor elementary students and help teach literacy skills. This is a Sage Center Designated Course, which includes an attached Spring at Sage or Service Learning experience.
  • Honors English III: American Literature

    This course is designed for students who have performed at a high level in English II and wish to deepen their critical thinking, reading and writing skills. The course
    moves at a significantly faster pace than English III American Literature. In addition
    to the English III curriculum, students read additional texts and complete additional
    assignments that require students to develop cogent, coherent arguments, write with richness of expression and demonstrate advanced critical reading and writing abilities.
  • English III: American Literature

    In this course, students explore the nature of the American identity as well as how the American ethos has evolved and continues to evolve over time. This course complements the United States history courses and historical, intellectual and philosophical contexts inform our study. Students continue to build reading, writing and oral skills through a variety of projects, presentations and writings, as they strive to define the uniquely American experience, the American dream and the role that the American ethos plays in our lives. Students explore multiple literary genres, including essays, speeches, poetry, plays, short stories and novels.
  • English IV: Brave New Worlds

    Imagine that the world we live in was suddenly destroyed by disease or war or natural disaster, and a new world had to be created. Would it be a utopian paradise, with no poverty, disease or war? Or would it disintegrate into dystopian, totalitarian regimes that stripped us of our rights until we were prisoners in our own country? In this course, we will investigate the concept of the future by examining a wide range of literary and cinematic works in the science-fiction/ speculative-fiction realm of utopian and dystopian societies. We will discuss how speculations of the future have evolved over time, and address how classic works, such as the ones we read, speak to contemporary concerns of the relationship between nature and culture, gender and sexual identities, individual and community, and the impact of scientific and technological advances on our imagining of the future.
  • English IV: Music and Memory

    Why do we look back on our lives and remember some events with crystalline precision while other moments slip quickly into oblivion? What are memories? What function do they play in our lives? What makes a memory worth holding onto? “Music and Memory” is a creative writing elective with an emphasis on poetry and personal stories. Through the examination of music, film and literature we will explore our own memories and consider the value of reading about the memories of others. Students will create works about their own experiences that will have lasting importance for themselves and others. Students will draw from the powerful sources of music, memory and imagery to discover meaning in their lives and help others to do the same.
  • AP English Literature and Composition

    AP English Literature and Composition is a 12th grade, college-level course open to academically motivated students who intend to take the culminating AP examination. In this course, students experience, interpret, and evaluate diverse works of literature. Students develop an understanding of the writers’ use of language to provide meaning and pleasure to readers, examine and explicate structural complexity in poetry and fiction and investigate themes and symbols found in works from the theatre. Students also cultivate critical thinking and formal writing skills. In the process, students hone their effective use of rhetoric, including style and tone via collegiate- level vocabulary, grammar, syntax, and literary language. Ultimately, students in this course learn to “read like a writer” and “write like a reader.
  • English IV: Storytellers’ Workshop

    For years we have entertained ourselves with stories. Stories transport us to other worlds. They allow us to have experiences we might not otherwise have. Stories help connect us to other times, to other people. They help us to understand ourselves. Storytellers’ Workshop is an elective for students who want to explore the art of creative writing. The class is geared toward understanding and appreciating the possibility and power of stories. Throughout the year, students critically examine a variety of published stories, as well as craft their own original pieces, increasing their knowledge of the essential elements of storytelling. The workshop provides members regular opportunities to submit their own work to the class for valuable feedback from their instructor and peers. As they engage in a series of creative projects and exercises designed to enrich their understanding of craft and form, students will strengthen their ability to clearly and powerfully communicate their own stories.
  • Photo of Clayton Hatfield
    Clayton Hatfield
    English Department Chair
  • Photo of Elizabeth Anauld
    Elizabeth Anauld
    English Teacher, Ninth Grade Dean
  • Photo of Elizabeth Chung
    Elizabeth Chung
    English Teacher, 11th Grade Lead Class Advisor
  • Photo of Sara Graham
    Sara Graham
    Assistant Director of the Sage Center for Global Education and Inclusion, English Teacher
  • Photo of Boyd Jorden
    Boyd Jorden
    Department of English
  • Photo of Laura Lyons
    Laura Lyons
    English Teacher
  • Photo of Arlie Parker
    Arlie Parker
    English Teacher
  • Photo of John Paulsen
    John Paulsen
    English Teacher
  • Photo of Jennifer Scott
    Jennifer Scott
    English Teacher

Sage Hill School

Sage Hill School admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the School. The School does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship programs, and athletic and other School administered programs.