English

Through a close reading of culturally sensitive and humanizing literature,

students will develop tolerance and compassion for others. De Smet graduates will be able to think, speak, and write clearly, cogently, and effectively as they enter the world as mature and responsible young men for others. The De Smet Jesuit High School English Department provides a college preparatory curriculum that creates an understanding of the human condition by fostering Ignatian values and ideals through the study of various literary genres.

Summer 2020 Reading List

Frequently Asked Questions

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In my junior English class, we move through American literature chronologically. So in the fall we start with some foundational writers —Crevecoeur, de Tocqueville, Douglass — and finish the semester with Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn. The second semester starts with Hemingway stories. We read The Great Gatsby and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Interspersed throughout those readings are miscellaneous poems and stories. As we read, we continually hearken back to the earliest writers we encountered. How are the ideas we see expressed now related to those from the past? How are we supposed to live as Americans according to those who came before us? Finally, late into the spring semester, students write a personal narrative in which they develop their own voice for the time and place in which they live today.   

Freshmen will continually be working on expressing reading comprehension, analyzing characters, summarizing and explaining texts, and honing argumentative writing skills throughout the year. In addition to several formal essays, students should expect to be ready to write in journalistic platforms, as well as short answer, paragraph, and in-class essay platforms. The writing instruction and practice of freshman year is designed to free students from multiple choice answer formats and allow students growth in their ability to explain and persuade with the written word. Students will be writing one way or another on a weekly basis.

The successful student brings with him a willingness to work with his instructor and collaborate with his classmates in an effort to gain and then master college-preparatory reading and writing skills. The successful student also employs a growth mindset, looking to improve himself and his community both in-person and digitally, both inside and outside of the classroom. To do this, he must bring his real self to class every day and he has to utilize the English skills he learns not only to advance to the next grade level and eventually to college but also to better serve those around him immediately and in the future. In other words: the successful student assimilates traditional English skills and uses them creatively and authentically in real-world scenarios. 

Helping students build skills for a future that is unknown and jobs that probably don’t exist at this time requires a paradigm shift, but also draws upon standards that English courses have always taught. No matter the job, successful people encounter the world with empathy. English helps in this endeavor because we read stories by a variety of authors who are different from us and who probably share different viewpoints than us. Being open to these viewpoints – even when we disagree with them – and understanding why a person holds a particular viewpoint builds empathy. Moreover, communication is a skill that will never go away and is a strong priority in the future. As such, we prepare students to communicate clearly using multiple mediums (essays, videos, podcasts, journals, PowerPoints, etc.).

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    English Faculty

    Nick Dressler

    Nick Dressler

    Class of 2002
    Teacher, Department Chair
    MA, English Literature, University of Missouri-St. Louis
    BA, English, Loyola University-Chicago
    Rob Bergman

    Rob Bergman

    Class of 1993
    Teacher, Writing Lab Supervisor
    BA, English, Rockhurst University
    BA, Education, Rockhurst University
    MLA, Language Arts, Washington University
    Kevin Berns

    Kevin Berns

    Class of 1987
    Teacher
    BA, Media Communications, Webster University
    Bridget Bowers

    Bridget Bowers

    Teacher, Director of Student Council
    BA, English, Loyola University-Chicago
    Sean Cavanagh

    Sean Cavanagh

    Teacher
    MLA, Language Arts, Washington University
    BA, Philosophy, Fordham University
    Rob Hutchison

    Rob Hutchison

    Teacher, Lacrosse Coach, Freshman Soccer Coach, NHS Moderator
    MA, English, St. Louis University
    MS, Biology, St. Louis University
    BS, Pre-Med, University of Notre Dame
    William Manaker

    William Manaker

    Teacher
    BA, Philosophy and Catholic Studies, University of St. Thomas, MN
    MA, English, Loyola University-Chicago
    Mike Russo

    Mike Russo

    Teacher, English Teacher, Director of Student Activities, Head Track & Field Coach
    MeD, Education, University of Notre Dame
    BA, English, University of Notre Dame
    BA, History, University of Notre Dame
    Henry Samson

    Henry Samson

    Teacher
    M. Ed., Learning and Technology, Western Governors University
    BA, Education, St. Louis University
    BA, English, St. Louis University