We take our collective love for the written word seriously in the English department at Breck.
A group of active readers and talented writers themselves, our teachers capitalize on their small classes, which directly translates into thriving student readers and writers. Through personal relationships where everyone is seen, students are held accountable as they develop their own voices in class discussions and in their writing.
Whether unpacking a difficult text or wrestling with how to best communicate a complex idea, students are both supported and challenged by teachers who are deeply invested in their students' full development as readers and writers and as people.Our unique one-campus setting allows for the alignment of programming across divisions and the coordinating of language to talk about our craft. Within that all-school vision, for instance, is a common approach to the teaching of writing with a strong emphasis on process, whether it be a “small moment” story in kindergarten or a comparative literary analysis for our Honors Papers publication senior year. Also driven by a common school mission to instill in students a deep sense of social responsibility, our rigorous literature choices reflect a larger purpose rooted in making visible the systems that create inequities in our world and imagining the potential of a more culturally competent society. We want students to see themselves mirrored in the books they read and to also view books as windows into experiences beyond their own.
Beyond teaching students to be nimble, effective, confident writers who can succeed in a college setting, a notable component to the Breck writing experience is the emphasis placed on students finding, developing, and telling their own stories. We see storytelling as central to the human experience and as a conduit to identity-development, empathy-building, and connection, all skills that lead to success in varied settings both within and beyond the walls of Breck. Students are asked very early on to be vulnerable in telling their own stories, and that willingness to confront the risk of telling your truest story shines through every year as they work their way through our P-12 program. When they perform two bookend speeches to the Upper School experience: the eighth-grade speech and the senior speech, our commitment to vulnerability is most palpable. Students listen to each other’s stories with an openness to the benefits of a shared space.
Without a doubt, the Breck English department prepared me to be a confident, inquisitive, and thoughtful writer, researcher, public speaker, and student. Within the English department I encountered teachers who asked me not to settle with being a "good" writer but instead to push--with their support and guidance--to become a continually better writer. I was fortunate to have teachers who saw my passion for the subject and encouraged me to relentlessly pursue that passion wherever it took me. Assignments I was given allowed me to explore topics I was passionate about and their connection to the unit of study. English is a subject that can come alive with the right teachers -- and Breck's English department is full of them.
-Jenn Fabian '15, Wake Forest '19
As a result of Breck’s English curriculum, we aim for each student to be able to…
- Speak with clarity, confidence, and empathy.
- Read a variety of texts closely and critically with an appreciation for the power of language while growing in our understanding of self, others, and the world.
- Write clearly in an authentic voice for a variety of purposes: to develop ideas, to entertain, to inform, to persuade.
- Develop empathy by connecting to self and others through perspective-taking, listening, risk-taking, collaboration, and respectful dialogue.
- Recognize the power of words to illuminate perspectives, convey culture, understand society, and incite social responsibility.
- Embrace the struggle to understand a complex world and their own complex minds.
- Discuss texts and ideas in a manner that values plurality of experiences and perspectives as well as mutual enlightenment.