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.

Our Mission is to provide comprehensive instruction for college-bound students who will:
  • 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

About our Faculty

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.


We are passionate about professional development. Department members have received grants or studied through institutions such as the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Folger Shakespeare Library, the American Society of Newspaper Editors, the National Consortium for Teaching about Asia, The College Board, the Touchstones Discussion Project, the Klingenstein Center for Independent School Leadership, Harvard University, and the University of Cambridge. Most importantly, we take profound enjoyment in our students and in the work we do.

English Department Courses

Literature & Composition
Honors Literature & Composition
Honors Rhetoric
British Literature
AP English Language & Composition
Creative Writing
Advanced Creative Writing
Fiction into Film
Journalism I, II, III, IV
Honors Journalism
Yearbook Journalism
Broadcast Journalism 

Extracurricular Clubs & Organizations

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.

English Department FAQs

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 you offer honors and Advanced Placement courses?

Yes, our department offers honors courses and every AP
English course possible. Freshmen are placed into honors through standardized test scores. Sophomores, juniors and seniors are placed according to teacher recommendation, which is made after evaluating each student's work in the prior year. Students in AP courses study an enhanced curriculum and may receive college credit for their performance on national examinations administered by the College Board.

What is the average class size for English classes?

The average class size for English classes is 22.5. 

Department Contacts

Ms. Patrice Wolfe
English Department Chair
Ms. Brandi Bottalico| 2010
Ms. Nicole Dado
Mr. Matthew Goyette
Ms. Emily Grice
Mr. Garry Imes | 1992
Mr. Ryan Meczowski
Mr. Justin Rhodes | 2006
Mr. Greg Vazzana | 1998
Dr. Katie White Dr. Katie White
Bishop McNamara High School
6800 Marlboro Pike, Forestville, MD 20747
Phone: 301.735.8401
Fax: 301.735.0934
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