Prep School English



The Columbia Prep English Department understands that—in order to teach students to read closely, think critically, and write with clarity and style—the work we assign must be meaningful and must help students define themselves and their world. To that end, as we develop skills at each level, our teachers cultivate a vibrant intellectual atmosphere in the classroom and an authentic connection with books, language, and ideas.

We introduce students to a broad range of literature, including classic American and British texts, as well as more recent and more global works. Students explore new perspectives, evaluate characters’ choices, and link literature to their own experiences.  

In younger grades, there is a focus on broader themes and on developing independent readers, and as students mature, they learn to approach more complex texts and to appreciate more subtleties of language. By junior and senior year, our students are ready to follow their interests and choose from a variety of semester electives. These courses also allow for a far greater immersion into individual eras, cultures, and genres—a depth of study that is essential to a complete education.

In all grades, students develop the writing skills necessary to respond intelligently to literature, ideas, and the society around them. Our students craft many short analytical responses to their reading, and as they progress, build more extended literary essays. Every English course also includes chances to write creatively and personally: Students emulate different authors’ styles and experiment with their own personal essays, short stories, and poems. No matter the assignment, students learn stylistic and editing techniques to help them convey their thinking more powerfully. They write often, they join writing workshops, and they are given frequent opportunities to revise.