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The 2021-2022 school year has brought new changes to St. Mary’s High School, including updates to the English department. With the introduction of new curriculum, a new faculty member, and adjusted classroom positioning within the building, the English department is enthusiastic for the remainder of the school year.

“The English department is full of committed professionals who actively care about students,” Robin Knoepke, English department chair, said.

The 21st Century Journalism and Broadcasting class is equipped with a revamped curriculum and is now taught by Ms. Amy Partain, director of Communications at St. Mary’s. This curriculum highlights journalistic writing, social media management, news broadcasting, and podcasting. The broadcast staff in this class film the daily announcements with the creation of Pirate TV, as well as a bi-monthly news magazine known as “Hit the Deck.” The newspaper staff produces the Jolly Roger, which releases volumes every four to six weeks. The social media staff keeps students informed through daily posts, and the podcast staff has started releasing episodes of the “Three Scallywags Podcast.”

Theresa Ward, the new faculty member in the English department, is teaching English 1, English 1A, and Study Skills. She is thrilled to be a new addition to the school.

Ward’s thoughts mostly revolve around what students need in this recovery stage from the pandemic. She is enjoying bringing back classroom activities, like Socratic discussions and  activities that help classes get into a creative writing mood to produce original work.

“In terms of what I am looking forward to regarding teaching at St. Mary's, I am impressed at how vibrant the community is, and how much students and teachers share the same goals about living and learning,” Ward said. “This is a unique school with a very special mission and purpose, which everyone seems to understand and support. It is good to be at SMHS.”

Moving all of the English teachers into the main building on campus has given them more opportunities to collaborate. In addition to Ward, the English department staff is: David Barkley, who teaches English II and IIA; Knoepke teaches English III and AP English Language and Composition and is the new theatre director; and Kim Will, a long-time faculty member of St. Mary’s who teaches English IV and AP English Literature and Composition.

Amidst the new additions to the school this year, specifically the revised curriculum, new faculty, and adjusted teacher positions ensure the promising future of the English department at St. Mary’s.

by Maria Therese Barry
St. Mary's Student Journalist