A new English course for seniors

BY: TAYLOR BARR, SIERRA MAHONEY AND BRENDAN MCCUE

Shenendehowa High School recently announced a new course being offered for seniors next year called English 12.

The course will be taught by Lauren Buttimer and Joseph Kott and will be a continuation of the typical English courses, but with some different elements designed specifically for seniors.

Shenendehowa currently has courses for English 9, English 10, English 11, but no English 12. There are many elective English classes to choose from but they are very specific and some students do not gravitate towards any of them. Some seniors were not interested in such classes and wanted a class like their previous courses.  English 12 was designed for those types of students who want to further their overall English skills without focusing on a specific area.

The course is designed to challenge and encourage students at the grade-level Common Core standards. The inspiration came from a previous course of English 12 that was removed in order to give seniors more options. However, the counselors realized these new options did not fit everybody and it was decided English 12 would be brought back.  

Kathleen Sherwin, the department chair for English, said in an email that she was “excited” about the new course. 

“It will provide an option in the Regents-level course progression for seniors who are seeking a full-year balanced reading and writing course in preparation for graduation and post-secondary plans,” she wrote. 

The teachers and staff have designed English 12 different than other traditional English courses. As opposed to more traditional works of literature studied in previous English classes at the lower grade levels, English 12 will look at contemporary literature and more recent pieces. 

“The emphasis of this course is to create critical thinkers who are independent, self-directed, motivated, and mature learners,” Sherwin said.

The course is centered around motivating and helping students prepare for the upcoming year and life after high school, while recognizing that not all students have the same plan.  The course asks the students what they can see themselves becoming, and tries to get them to open up to the next phase in their lives.

Current drafted units include The Personal Narrative or College Essay, “Overcoming Adversity,” “My Believes vs. Their Beliefs,” and “Navigating the Real World – Research Paper.” The course will continue to be developed throughout summer of 2017.

English teacher Lauren Buttimer proposed the course herself and is very excited about teaching it. She said the course is “academic but relatable and prepares students for after graduation by exposing them to the real world.”

Buttimer currently teaches Lit Classics and Decisions, Cult/Lit, and an alternate education English 12. She went to Shen herself and grew up taking both cult/lit and Lit Classics and Decisions. While she may have to lose one of these sections in order to teach English 12 she said she is looking forward to the opportunities it will provide students.

English teacher Joseph Kott was brought on board by Buttimer because of their similar teaching styles and collaborative efforts. He currently teaches English 11 and Masterpieces of Drama and Musical Theater. He said he is both excited and nervous to begin teaching English 12.

“It is taking me outside my comfort zone,” he said, “but that’s a good thing, when you’re challenged you grow.”

Kott said the course units will focus on a broad spectrum and diversity. “When designing it we wanted to give students the skills to be successful in the outside world,” he said.

Shenendehowa High School counselor Gretchen Lynch is also excited about English 12. “We have English 9, we have English 10, we have English 11, it is so great to finally be able to say we have English 12 too,” she said. 

She already has had a wide range of students sign up for the class. “The course will be good for kids who may be struggling or students who excel in other departments rather than English, as well as transfer students,” Lynch said.

English 12 will be a full year course, as opposed to many of the current half-year electives, which will enable students to gain more support and develop more skills. Some students struggle with the timing of half year courses,” Lynch said, and she thinks English 12 will be a good option for many.

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