SWS English opens its doors

Senior Jeremy Stanhope (left), a mainstream student, and sophomore Jordan Underwood (right), of SWS, enjoy SWS English class. (Photo by Matthew Goroff)

Two years ago, the gateway for mainstream students to take School Within a School English classes creaked open.

Seniors Chernet Sisay and Jeremy Stanhope are among the mainstream students who are taking or have already taken an SWS English class.

Stanhope is currently taking Humanities II and feels quite comfortable.

“What I like the most about the class is the students in the class. I feel no one is afraid to say what is on their mind and no one is afraid to disagree with someone else,” said Stanhope.

Though many mainstream students show interest in joining an SWS English class, there has not been a formal process by which these students are admitted, according to SWS Curriculum Coordinator Dan Bresman.

“What we’ve been talking about in town meeting is creating that process. There is a sentiment that we want to figure out if there is space in the classes and how we accommodate people who are interested in taking them,” said Bresman.

Up until now, students have been admitted into the classes on case-by-case basis, according to Bresman.

Both Sisay and Stanhope expressed interest in taking their respective English classes, and because there was space available in each of these classes, they were given the go-ahead by Bresman.

SWS English teacher Abby Erdmann said` that if there are SWS English classes that are under-enrolled, then mainstream students should certainly be allowed to take them.

“I don’t particularly feel like we need to be exclusive,” said Erdmann. “I think the concern is if there were a huge precedent and if there were a lot of downstairs kids who wanted take an English class.”

After having a mainstream student join her class in the first semester, Erdmann’s students seemed more enthusiastic to have other non-SWS students join classes during the second semester.

Though no formal admitting procedure for English classes is present at the moment, SWS already has such polices for math, history and science classes offered, according to Bresman.

Sisay took Creative Non-Fiction Writing taught by Erdmann and has nothing but praise for the class.

“I had an incredible experience. It’s a small class with a great teacher,” said Sisay. “I learned a lot, and I wrote a lot of papers this year. My writing has changed for the better because of that class.”


Juvan Bonni can be contacted at [email protected]