Students can opt into English classes


Over the past few months, the English department at KO has made changes to the student placement process for the next school year.

Previously, the department had used a teacher-placement model but is now switching to a student-decision model in hopes that students can recognize their needs for an English class and choose accordingly.

English Department Chair Catherine Schieffelin and the English department made this change to better allow for the student to dictate their English track.

Ms. Schieffelin said she believes that student reflection is a critical part of this process, and that this reflection will benefit students.

“This process requires more student reflection, and I’m all for carving out more opportunities for students to pause and take stock of their own growth and areas where they still need to improve so they can be more intentional in their education,” she said.

For the English department, options are open for all three rising grades: sophomores, juniors, and seniors.

Sophomores will rise to either English 4 or English 4 Honors, taught by English teachers Mr. Monroe, Mr. Biondi, Ms. Schieffelin, and Mr. Martino.

Juniors will move onto either English 5 or English 5 AP, taught by English teachers Ms. Frye, Ms. Hojnicki and Dr. Wayne.

“Differing from previous years, freshmen and sophomores will be able to dictate which English class they take next year. This process has been changed mainly to allow the student to decide their future.

“While [the student-decision process] takes longer, it puts more ownership in the student’s hands, and the student gets to have a say,” Director of the Upper School Daniel Gleason said.

For seniors, the process differs slightly from other grade levels.

Seniors choose from a variety of electives for the first semester, and for the final quarter.

The third quarter is specifically reserved for their senior thesis.

However, many seniors will be placed into one of the most selective classes at KO.

The symposium class consists of around 30 students each year, and examines the work and portfolio of one author.

That author will then come to visit KO, as seen with playwright Sarah Ruhl’s visit on Tuesday, Feb. 25.

While the search for a new author is still not complete, next year’s Symposium class will hopefully be a hit, following years with visits from Peter Heller, Colson Whitehead, and most recently, Sarah Ruhl.

According to a letter sent out to families by Ms. Schieffelin and the English department, the Symposium class will be moving away from teacher placements into the class, and instead accepting applications consisting of an essay, literary analysis, and an interview with two members of the English department.

The English department is the second department to switch to student decisions, with the first being history.

“Students appreciate that aspect of the history department, and there’s no waves about that. So we’re bringing that idea to the English department and there’s a good chance that in a year or two, it’ll be seen as totally normal,” Dr. Gleason said.

The new method, which would allow students to choose what class they take next year, is in hopes that it will allow for more students to find success in the classroom and grow as students.

“Students can determine their own path in English now, and we may have even more students challenging themselves and growing more as readers, writers, and thinkers,” Ms. Schieffelin said.