English Language Arts
“It is the mission of the English department to develop self-reliant citizens and scholars who will read, write, and think critically, who will view a variety of texts as their windows into the past, the present, and the future and use quality literature in a way that helps them to understand themselves and their role and purpose in our society. This department will strive to teach research skills that will enable our students to gather information across disciplines and then think logically, systematically, and critically, always seeking out Truth while remaining vigilant against personal prejudices and confirmation bias. In addressing this mission, we, the members, recognize that we must be consistent role models for our students, always exemplifying our love of life-enriching literature, our thirst for understanding, and our personal contributions to society.”
Mrs. Michelle Bence
Mrs. Bence graduated from Messiah College in 2012 and is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Educational Development and Strategies from Wilkes University. She teaches College Prep English 10 and Honors English 12. In her spare time she enjoys spending time with her husband and two young daughters. She loves to bake, travel, and go to the beach any chance that she can.
Mrs. Debra Boor
Mrs. Boor received a Bachelor of Science degree in Secondary English Education from Kutztown University in 2005 and began her teaching career at Conrad Weiser High School that same year. In 2011, she received a Master of Science degree in Education from Wilkes University. Presently, she is teaching College Prep English 11, Honors English 10, and Applied English 10. She currently co-advises Key Club. Outside of school, she enjoys cooking, gardening, reading and, most importantly, spending time with her family.
Mrs. Melissa Byma
Mrs. Byma earned her Bachelors and Masters degrees in English Secondary Education from Millersville University. Since joining the Conrad Weiser staff in 2000, she has worked with students in grades 9-12 in a variety of English courses. Mrs. Byma currently teaches 9 Applied English, 12 CP English, and AP English Language and Composition, and she also advises the TABS (Theater Art by Students) Club and designs costumes for CWHS musicals. Outside of school, Mrs. Byma enjoys spending time with family and friends, reading, sewing, and crafting.
Mr. Steven D. Heffner
Mr. Heffner began his career at Conrad Weiser Junior/High School teaching ninth graders exclusively in 1984. Since then, he has also taught eleventh grade American literature, The World of William Shakespeare, Journalism, and Writers Guild. Currently, he advises both the Shakespeare Club and the Chess Club. Mr. Heffner holds a Bachelors degree in Secondary English from Penn State, a Master of Science degree in Secondary Education from Wilkes University, and a Certificate in Writing Instruction from West Chester University. He is a 1992 Fellow of the Pennsylvania Writing and Literature project where he later served as the project’s first Co-Director for Technology.
Mrs. Kathleen Mohn
Mrs. Mohn began her career teaching junior English in 1984. In 1990, she was offered a part-time split between teaching and coordinating Public Relations for the District. She has continued in that capacity and now teaches Honors English 11, Effective Communication, and Senior Seminar-Psychology. She is a co-advisor for the SaGA Club (Sexuality and Gender Alliance). Mrs. Mohn earned a B.A. in English at Elizabethtown College and an M.Ed. in Secondary School Counseling from Kutztown University. She has also taught at Alvernia University in both the Psychology and Education departments. When she’s not at Conrad Weiser, she enjoys reading historical fiction and spending time outdoors with her family.
Mrs. Stacey Osman
Mrs. Osman is a 2003 graduate of Conrad Weiser High School and a 2007 graduate of Kutztown University. In the years since her graduation, she has also earned a Master’s degree in Education with a focus in English. She teaches College Prep and Applied English at Conrad Weiser High School, and she advises the Berks Academic Challenge Team, the Dungeons and Dragons Club, and the Key Club. In her spare time, Mrs. Osman enjoys tabletop RPGs, miniature painting, board games and many other ‘nerdy’ activities. She also enjoys spending time at home with her husband, daughter, and her two cats, Romeo and Juliet.
Mrs. Ashley Proietto
Mrs. Proietto has her Bachelors of Secondary English Education from Kutztown University and her Masters in Education from Wilkes University. She is the advisor of Aevidum, Relay for Life, Poetry Out Loud, helps to plan homecoming activities, and is the choreographer for both the CW Dance Team and the musicals. Additionally, she is the head varsity coach for the Conrad Weiser Cheer Team. Mrs. Proietto currently teaches English and Effective Communication, and she has been at Conrad Weiser since 2014.
Mrs. Christina Ruoss
Mrs. Ruoss became an instructor at Conrad Weiser High School in 2010. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Business Communications and Management from DeSales University. She completed her certification in Secondary English Education in 2009 and a Masters of Urban Education from Alvernia in 2014. Mrs. Ruoss is currently pursuing a PhD in Educational Leadership from Alvernia University. She is faculty advisor for the Conrad Weiser Intramural Debate Club and March for Our Lives Club. Mrs. Ruoss currently teaches AP Literature and Composition.
1001 English College Prep, Gr. 12
This academic English course is designed for the college-bound student. It emphasizes reading and response to literature; studying grammar; writing, especially narrative; and completing an MLA-style research paper. [1.00 Credit (Prerequisite - Successful completion of any 11th grade English course)]
1002 Applied English, Gr. 12
This course will build on the skills developed in Applied English 11. Students will review grammar and mechanics throughout the year. A variety of writing assignments will be administered including a narrative and an MLA style research paper. Various types of literature will be used within the class and focus will be placed on the comprehension of a) the literature itself and b) the themes and details surrounding the pieces. [1.00 Credit (Prerequisite - Successful completion of any 11th grade English course)]
1004 English College Prep, Gr. 11
The focus of this course of study is American Literature. Students will read and analyze a variety of selections by American writers, including novels, short stories, and poems. Students will also complete formal and informal writing assignments with an emphasis on journal writing, and literary analysis. This course also provides students with opportunities to develop effective communication skills, and investigate potential career paths. [1.00 Credit (Prerequisite - Successful completion of any 10th grade English course)]
1005 Applied English, Gr. 11
This course of study consists of interesting reading selections by American writers, including short stories, plays, and contemporary young adult novels. Students will also participate in a variety of writing experiences, and practice communication techniques that will enable them to effectively integrate into the work force. Students will also learn new vocabulary, and gain a better command of grammar usage.[1.00 Credit (Prerequisite - Successful completion of any 10th grade English course)]
1010 Effective Communication, Gr. 11 & 12
Effective communication is required in virtually every career field in the world today, and this course will prepare students to meet that need. This course will help students to improve their technical writing and oral communication skills, to employ effective strategies in their writing as well as in debate. In addition, students will learn successful public relations strategies. Students will be required to write for a variety of purposes and audiences and will give speeches ranging from short impromptu talks to prepared presentations. In addition, students will read and transact with a wide assortment of texts including essays, novels, and plays. This course is open to students of all career objectives and is an option that may count for major credit in place of any grade 11 or 12 English course or for elective credit when taken in addition to one of the major courses. [1.0 Credit (Prerequisite – Successful completion of any 10th grade non-elective English course)]
1012 English Language Arts Survey, Gr. 11 & 12
This course is designed for the student seeking a more eclectic approach to language arts study and is comprised of a diverse set of mini-units. These units include: Film History and Criticism; Comparative Literature Studies; Poetry; American Humor in Literature; Drama; and Faith, Philosophy, and Psychology in Literature. In addition to the teacher-led mini-courses, students will work in research teams to prepare and present a final term culminating project focused on an additional area of language arts studies. This course is open to students of all career objectives. This course is open to students of all career objectives and is an option that may count for major credit in place of any grade 11 or 12 English course or for elective credit when taken in addition to one of the major courses. [1.00 Credit (Prerequisite – Successful completion of any 10th grade non-elective English course)]
1015 English College Prep, Gr. 10
This academic English course stresses the comprehension and appreciation of literature by reading short stories, modern plays, Shakespeare, and novels. Writing will concentrate on development techniques, literary analysis, and personal writing. The research paper and skills needed to prepare it will be included. Vocabulary, grammar, and public speaking are aimed at improving oral and written expression. [1.00 Credit (Prerequisite - Successful completion of any 9th grade English course)]
1016 Applied English, Gr. 10
Students in 10th Grade Applied English will read and analyze novels, short stories, and drama. In order for students to enhance their reading comprehension skills – to make personal, real-world and academic connections based on the themes found in these texts – a collaborative learning environment will be emphasized throughout the course. Writing will concentrate on developmental techniques – using the stages of the writing process. Students will apply the writing process to engage in a variety of performance tasks, including, but not limited to, a personal narrative, journal writing, descriptive essay, and research paper. Students will use research and technology to support both reading and writing. In order to enhance oral and written expression, there is an emphasis on vocabulary, grammar, and public speaking throughout the course. [1.00 Credit (Prerequisite - Successful completion of any 9th grade English course)]
1091 English-College Prep, Gr. 9
This is the first course in a four-year program designed to ensure that students will develop the high degree of personal literacy necessary to succeed in college. Each student is expected to build an extensive portfolio of self-initiated as well as teacher- assigned reading and writing. The study of assigned literature will be primarily by genre, but students will have ample opportunity for self-selected reading as well. Personal management skills are essential to success in this course as in college. [1.00 Credit]
1092 Applied English, Gr. 9
This course focuses on reading and writing. Students will read and discuss novels as well as short selections from diverse genres of literature. In addition, students will write for a variety of purposes and audiences and learn effective writing techniques. Vocabulary, grammar, and public speaking instruction will be used to supplement writing instruction. [1.00 Credit]
1020 English Honors, Gr. 9
This course builds upon the basic framework of the 9th Grade College Preparatory English course through the addition of ten titles of classic literature and by focusing on written analysis and evaluation of those works. Students taking Honors English 9 must be self-starters who welcome a demanding course load, which includes summer reading and writing assignments in addition to all of the requirements of the 9th Grade College Preparatory English course. [(weighted course 1.1) 1.00 Credit.]
1021 English Honors, Gr. 10
This course moves the advanced learner from the study of literature by genre to analysis based upon literary elements. An emphasis will be placed upon the development of critical thinking and writing skills. Literature will be studied in relationship to style, theme, and historical context. In addition to the 10th Grade College Preparatory English framework, extensive outside reading for the summer and throughout the semester is required. Because of its demanding out-of-class workload, this course necessitates an educational commitment on the part of the student. [(weighted 1.10 1.00 Credit]
1022 English Honors, Gr. 11
The 11th grade Honors English course includes many of the goals of the 11th Grade College Preparatory English course, such as the integration of writing, grammar, literature, and speech, to develop the effective communications skills necessary for success in college. However, this is an advanced course designed for the student who exhibits a special interest or proficiency in English and will require the honors student to complete more independent and cooperative work using analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. Supplementary texts are included for summer reading and writing assignments. [(weighted 1.1) 1.00 Credit]
1023 English Honors, Gr. 12
The 12th grade Honors English course is aimed at preparing the talented and motivated English student for advanced level language arts studies in college. Building upon the requirements of the College Preparatory English 12 course, this course adds the independent and collaborative reading and analysis of advanced level literary works, advanced writing assignments, and oral presentation. Because of the intensity of its coursework, this course demands that students can self-initiate and self- direct themselves in most of the requirements of the senior project. [(weighted 1.1) 1.0 Credit]
1024 Journalism I, Gr. 10, 11 & 12
This course is intended to teach the basics of print journalism with possible focus on other types of journalism. Students will develop reporting and interviewing skills and will focus on proofreading and layout procedures. Students will be responsible for the writing, layout, production and distribution of the school newspaper, The Interpreter. [1.00 Credit]
1025 Journalism II, Gr. 11 & 12
This course will build on the skills learned in Journalism I. Students will have added responsibility in the form of additional articles, editorial positions, more control over layout, and newspaper staff meetings regarding the progress of the newspaper. Students will continue to practice reporting and interviewing skills, often being asked to cover more in-depth topics than their Journalism I counterparts. [1.00 Credit (Prerequisite - Journalism I)]
1026 The World of William Shakespeare, Gr. 10, 11 & 12
Through active participation, performance, and hands-on activities, students in this course will immerse themselves in the comedies, tragedies, and historical world of William Shakespeare. At least six plays will be covered as a class, while others will be explored in small groups and independent work. Additionally, students will read many of Shakespeare’s sonnets and longer poems, as well as works by several of his contemporaries. A key focus of the class will be to encourage students to make connections between Shakespeare’s world and our world of today. The class is open to all students willing to participate actively in the literature, both in and out of class. NOTE: This class is offered only in school terms ending in an even year (2021-22, 2023-24, 2025-26). [1.00 Credit]
1042 and 1043 English Department Internship, Gr. 12
An English internship course is offered to select seniors who exhibit proficiency in the English field. This course is intended to give seniors hands-on experience in real world applications of English and communications. Students may be able to explore the fields of journalism, education, public speaking, public relations, or any related field based on the specific placement. Students will be required to submit a reflective essay per marking period as well as a research project based on this internship. Students must provide their own transportation to the site. [.50 or 1.00 Credit (Prerequisite - Department Approval]
1050 Writers Guild, Gr. 10, 11 & 12
In this course, students will brainstorm, draft, polish, and publish their own writing working within the structure of various writers’ groups. Daily writing, thoughtful response, and a serious commitment to producing and publishing excellent writing are required for success. While students will be encouraged to explore a writing genre of that is of personal interest, they will also be required to expand and refine their talents by writing extensively within specific, assigned modes, composing essays, articles, analyses, and persuasive works. Publication of produced works will be both traditional and electronic. Regular submissions to contests are required. Every semester, the Writers’ Guild will work extensively on computers to produce an anthology that will be published and sold publicly via print-on-demand technology. This course will be offered only in school years ending in an odd number (2020-21, 2022-23, ). [1.00 Credit (Prerequisite - Successful completion of any 9th grade English course).
1057 Advanced Placement English Language and Composition, Gr. 11
This course is for juniors who, through their past performances in high school English classes, have exhibited advanced skills in literature study and rhetorical writing and who intend to take the AP English Language and Composition Exam. Students are required to take the Advanced Placement English Language and Composition Exam (Note: There is a fee for this exam administered by The College Board.) The pace of this class is fast and rigorous, demanding a significant amount of out-of- class preparation time spent towards both the study or canonical and historical works of literature as well as the examination of one’s own writing process through constructive and deconstructive techniques alike. Note: Final enrollment in this course is subject to departmental approval and based upon the student’s prior performance in all high school English courses through Grade 10. Students are required to take the AP Exam. [(weighted 1.2) 1.00 Credit]
1058 AP English Literature, Gr. 12
This course engages students in the careful reading and critical analysis of works of literary merit from various genres and time periods (16th Century to Contemporary). Through the close reading of selected texts, students will deepen their understanding of writer’s use of language to provide both meaning and appreciation of the work for their readers. As they read, students consider a work’s structure, style and themes, as well as such smaller-scale elements as the use of figurative language, imagery, symbolism and tone. This course is intended for seniors who will be taking the AP English Literature and Composition Exam (a requirement of this course). Note: There is a fee for this College Board exam. This course is fast-paced and rigorous, requiring good time management skills, as well as a significant amount of out-of-class time for reading and class assignments. Enrollment in this class is subject to department approval and will be based on past performance in high school English courses. Students are required either to take the AP exam or enroll in RACC’s dual enrollment program. [(weighted 1.2) 1.0 Credit]