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English Department

English Department:

Primary Interests and goals

Our department’s goal is to help our students become better readers and better writers. We strive to support the development of readers who are able to proficiently navigate grade level text, have a compelling and personal relationship to the consumption and production of print, and possess a corpus of learning (both knowledge and writing) that evidence a deep love of and passion for literacy.  We believe that literacy is the tool through which students come to better understand themselves, their community, and the world around them--and the means to “be the change they want to see in the world.” 
Our department has demonstrated tremendous success in both helping students earn scores indicative of college readiness (on the NYS ELA Regents Exam) and in improving students' reading skills (as measured by the MAP Growth Reading Assessment). Despite our successes in improving student outcomes, we will continue to work collaboratively to hone and improve our curriculum--and our instructional practices-- to meet the interests and needs of each incoming class of Curtis students.
 We believe that our primary mission is to empower our students to recognize and seize opportunities to improve their communities, their nation, and the world. To that end, our department has and will continue to design learning opportunities and projects that encourage our students to research and investigate the ways  in which people create change--and to work towards actualizing the change they wish to see.

We believe we can achieve this through a program that addresses the following components of reading and writing:





  • Curtis High School’s ELA curriculum is “culturally responsive.” Students cultivate their identity, skills, intellect, and critical literacy as they read about stories and times that are written by authors of diverse backgrounds and are diverse, thought-provoking, and important texts that function as both windows and mirrors.  They read texts that celebrate humanity and our world... and texts that bring a much-needed criticality to our present & our past.
  • Students engage with rigorous texts that are grade level appropriate and highlight varied complexity (ideas, syntax, structure, etc.), ensuring their ability to grow as readers and writers and practice grade-level standards-aligned thinking.
  • We take advantage of a critical developmental window in which we can help students develop a lifelong love of reading by selecting shared texts and designing units that engage them as growing people, readers, and writers-- and providing libraries full of excellent books and stories to encourage students to choose texts that might speak to them as individuals.  To do this effectively, we must solicit student feedback and act on it in meaningful ways.

All of this is in service of students cultivating their identity as a life-long reader.

  • Students get multiple opportunities across a given course to write on-demand and process pieces for relevant and worthwhile purposes and audiences and across varied genres (e.g., Research, Argument, Narrative, and Literary Analysis).
  • Students engage deeply in the work of revising to refine their own thinking, and also to internalize the belief that writers rarely get it “right” the first time.
All of this is in service of students cultivating their identity as a life-long writer.