The English Department: A tale of epic proportions

Peyton Jay, Staff Writer and Co-Editor

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Whether it be the standard four years of mandatory English courses or the various electives people can partake in, every student and alumni of Lemont High School has experienced the trials and tribulations of an English course at one point or another. They’ve picked a favorite teacher or course and have had their life experience affected to some degree. Why is that? What makes the English courses something that leave a mark on students? Is it the teachers? The courses? Or something slightly more heinous, like dark magic? Hint: It’s probably not the latter.

Let’s find out shall we?

It’s necessary to understand who the English department consists of foremost to truly get a feel for why what they teach isn’t just the generic English mumbo-jumbo.

The 15 teachers that form the department are as follows : Mrs. Sara Armbrecht,  Mrs. Angela Duensing, Mrs. Cara Forde (previously Franta for those older students), Mrs. Sandra Henderson, Mrs. Colleen Holl, Mrs. Kathryn Kupchek, Mrs. Patty Melei, Mrs. Jeana Parry, Mrs. Susan Szafranski, Mr. Sean Clark, Mr. Jon DeGuzman, Mr. Marek Dron, Mr. Phil Lazzari, Mr. Kurt Wilamowski, and the newly appointed English Chair, Mr. Mark Cannon.

Keep in mind that these teachers are truly passionate about their work and desire to aid students. They aren’t just tanking through being a teacher to get that gilded paycheck at the end of the week.

“People in our English department and everybody I’ve met so far and talked to at Lemont, starting with all the department chairs, that’s what they’re passionate about. It’s not lip service, it’s not saying what your boss wants to hear, we don’t have bosses like that here. It’s what’s best for the kids, that’s what we do. Period,” Cannon said.

Because English is the only course that is mandatory for every grade, it’s safe to say most just skate through without focusing all too much on it. With students having the option to have to take either one of three mandatory English classes each year; honors (Freshman/Sophomore) and AP (Junior/Senior) or academic. Among the mandatory classes each year, a student is also required to fill a half credit of their schedule with communications, helmed by Duensing and Melei.

“Being the Communications teacher, I find communicating easy; however, I know that this skill can be difficult for students. I try and make all the students comfortable and show them that this skill is an important one to have,” said Duensing.

All of the teachers in department truly believe that what they are teaching is one of the most important aspects of a student’s development, and making it mandatory just a better thing in their eyes.

Take Forde for example.

“We’re not just teaching them how to read books, we are teaching them life skills for everything. I feel that they [students] don’t necessarily realize how everything connects to their other classes like math and sciences.”

Cannon especially had some choice words on the subject. “Don’t look at it like a four year requirement you have to slave through. It’s the language. It’s English. It’s a chance to break down some barriers. I’m not trying to you know, bad mouth math but I mean two plus two doesn’t have to equal four. And let’s teach you how to argue it can equal five and a half. And I don’t have to agree with you, and we can still have fun.”

However, none of that stops each one of these teachers from attempting to make each and every course of theirs something that kids can enjoy to at least some degree, whether or not English is their life’s calling.

One thing that makes this sort of teaching possible is the fact each teacher brings with them a unique skillset and work experience from all over the field.

For example, many don’t realize Deguzman is a novelist with a previously published book (which has been shelved until the full trilogy is completed) Bladechild: Ascension. It’s interesting to know just how much this hobby and experience of his is reflected the lessons he teaches.

“I didn’t just write a book out of nothing, I had a plan. Yes, I wrote from the heart but I also wrote by utilizing a plan of attack. I had to map out, just like when you create an outline for an essay. I had to have somebody edit my book. Many people in the creative world are very possessive about their works. You know ‘don’t critique me this came from ME.’ However for me to publish my book I had to go to an outside source, just like how writers have to have teachers or peers edit a paper. I had to explain myself and defend why my book was something worth while. Those are experiences however I shared in a realistic setting with my students.”

A fair few teachers also partake in leading clubs to help broaden their reach to students who have different types of interests related to the English curriculum. For example, Lazzari takes up the mantle of leading the Speech Team.

The English department also bears a few gems in it’s curriculum and extracurricular options.

The option for hard working and volunteering to join the National English Honors Society is available for students selected. NEHS is ran by Armbrecht, who has her own feature article located here.

In a town like Lemont, English often ends up being a secondary language for students as a fair few homes speak Polish, Lithuanian, and a variety of other languages. Lemont offers students in need of a bit of extra help with picking up English an ELL course (English Language Learners) ran by Armbrecht and Dron. A detailed article of that has been done on it’s own, and if you’re interested, it can be read here.

Ultimately the English Department is full of highly spirited individuals whose sheer passion and devotion to their subject allows for Lemont students to thrive in their English and writing endeavors.

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The English Department: A tale of epic proportions