The English department at Bishop McNamara High School ensures that students pursue a rigorous college preparatory curriculum, with an emphasis on the writing, reading and critical thinking skills needed to succeed in college and beyond. Honors and Advanced Placement courses are offered for high-achieving students.
Our elective courses offer entry points for specialized study in the humanities. Students in our journalism program have won awards in regional competitions, and published work in publications such as The Washington Post and WUSA Channel 9 News.
- Think clearly and confidently
- Communicate effectively in writing and speech
- Recognize the power and beauty of the written word
- Have an enduring appreciation for the meaning of literature in their lives
The Faculty of the English Department includes ten dedicated professional educators with a combined teaching experience of over 130 years, more than 100 of them right here at Bishop McNamara. Four teachers are BMHS alumni, a testament to our program's tradition of excellence. Our literature and professional degrees come from universities such as Dartmouth, Penn State, Marquette, University of Maryland, James Madison, Towson, The Catholic University of America, West Virginia University, and Columbia University's Teachers College..
All students must complete four credits in English.
A sample of works and authors taught by the English department are:
- Romeo & Juliet, Othello, Macbeth, and Hamlet by William Shakespeare
- The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
- Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
- The Odyssey by Homer
- Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
- Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
- As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
- Paradise Lost by Milton
- The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- Fences by August Wilson
- Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
- Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
- The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
- Poetry by Robert Frost, Langston Hughes, Emily Dickinson, William Butler Yeats, T.S. Eliot
- Short fiction by Sherman Alexie, Edgar Allen Poe, Karel Čapek, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Yasunari Kawabata
- Essays and speeches by Amy Tan, Elie Wiesel, Firoozeh Dumas, George Orwell, and Martin Luther King, Jr.
Extracurricular clubs such as Poetic Justice, Yearbook Club, Mock Trial, National English Honor Society and the annual Shakespeare Festival exist for those who seek further opportunities to experience writing, literature and debate.
Weekly sessions of The National English Honor Society provide after-school writing assistance to any student who seeks help.
What do Bishop McNamara students learn in their four years?
We offer a rigorous college preparatory curriculum. Freshmen begin with a broad study of literature, emphasizing short fiction, poetry, and the novel. The sophomore course features an added emphasis on non-fiction and persuasive writing. Juniors read classics of American literature, and seniors study the foundations of British literature. Vocabulary is studied all four years, and our seniors complete a thesis project. For students who want to go beyond the basics, we offer electives in topics such as journalism and creative writing.
Do your teachers have much experience?
THE FACULTY of the English Department includes twelve dedicated professional educators with a combined teaching experience of over 130 years, more than 100 of them right here at Bishop McNamara. Five are BMHS alumni, a testament to our program's tradition of excellence. Our literature and professional degrees come from universities such as Dartmouth, Penn State, Marquette, University of Maryland, James Madison, Towson, Catholic University of America, West Virginia University, and Georgetown. We are passionate about professional development. Department members have received grants or studied through institutions such as the Smithsonian Summer Institute, Eduventures, Learning and the Brain, the Klingenstein Center for Independent School Leadership of Columbia University, the College Board, the Touchstones Discussion Project, and the University of Cambridge. Most importantly, we take profound enjoyment in our students and in the work we do.