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Academic Program


About the Program

Archer’s discussion-based English courses inspire students to share ideas and develop skills of collective inquiry. Our classes serve as spaces where humor and curiosity thrive, where students question the human condition, and where they hone their expression. Through careful and iterative selection of content and course design, we ask students to read widely and deeply from classic and contemporary texts and media, and we provide developmentally appropriate ways of challenging and engaging students with diverse perspectives. Students write in varied modes, from personal narratives to analytical and argumentative pieces, and always with attention to their audience and purpose. In every effort, we encourage students to build their voices by embracing the process and revising work. 

Faculty apply student-centered pedagogies to meet department standards rooted in the core areas of reading, writing, speaking, thinking, and metacognition, with discrete attention to collaboration skills. Some key learning outcomes include an appreciation of the importance and impact of storytelling, the ability to write controlled and purposeful arguments, heightened listening and speaking skills, and an understanding of varied approaches to rhetoric and analysis. Archer English students graduate as fluid, thoughtful writers with critical vision and confidence.

Our approach to English at Archer commits to the multidisciplinary nature of learning and to the recognition that student learning and creation needs to be authentic and resonant with their world and interests. To this end, courses draw strong links to history, art, film, contemporary life, and media studies. Original and dynamic assessments and writing tasks allow for student agency, and the department offers a variety of terrain for Archer writers to apply their efforts. These include our nationally recognized newspaper - The Oracle; our nationally recognized yearbook - Hestia Flame; our nationally recognized literary magazine - Pillars of Salt; our annual interschool Literature &... Conference; and our Advanced Study Humanities Symposium.

English Department Chair

List of 1 members.

  • Photo of Brian Wogensen

    Brian Wogensen 

    English Department Chair

List of 5 items.

  • Foundational Studies: 6th-8th Grade

    Archer's Middle School curriculum sets the foundation for life-long learning; it is tailored to foster enthusiasm while establishing strong habits of mind. Our teachers understand that Middle School students learn best when actively engaged, so students use a variety of modalities to investigate, draw conclusions, and demonstrate their understanding of "big ideas" about the world around them. Archer's dynamic online vocabulary program adapts itself to each student, allowing her to progress at her own pace and see new words in multiple contexts, from Latin roots to modern day usage and visual representations. 

    Middle School literary study blends contemporary young adult literature with classic texts; we foster passionate readers who aren't afraid to stretch themselves. Students develop their ability to think critically and write thoughtfully about short stories, poems, novels, and plays as they progress from simple analytic paragraphs to full-length essays. They participate in Socratic seminars to develop effective questioning strategies and collectively discover multiple perspectives. They apply these speaking and writing skills to share their ideas among peers and the larger community. These skills form an integral piece of the bridge between understanding and ability. 

    Archer girls are also asked to reflect on, and take ownership of, their approach to learning. These foundational courses reflect 21st-century learning where knowledge of the content is balanced with a creative approach to thought.
  • Evolving Studies: 9th-10th Grade

    As students move into Upper School, their relationship with literature evolves - we challenge them to become more aware of the world outside the text. Humanities classes in 9th grade develop global perspectives on dynamic themes such as humanity's relationship with the environment, cultural and religious norms, and conceptions of gender. In 10th grade, history and English classes examine the concept of East and West; students explore classical texts as well as contemporary novels that either uphold or subvert traditional Western archetypes and values. 

    Building on the foundational writing skills learned in Middle School, 9th and 10th grade classes emphasize language-based analysis that requires students to hone their critical thinking skills. In order to determine the author’s intent, they must delve into the symbolic connotations of word choice, imagery, and other figurative devices. These literary techniques can then be used to explore larger thematic and conceptual elements that illuminate their understanding of the text and the world at large. Accordingly, they continue to develop their prose styles so that their purpose is clear and artfully presented.
  • Advanced Studies: 11th-12th Grade

    How do fairytale archetypes manifest in modern literature? Is Orwell's 1984 modern or postmodern in its approach to "truth"? How have conceptions of childhood changed in the past 500 years? During 11th and 12th grade, students dive into provocative, complex questions such as these as they explore a wide variety of texts. 

    In 11th grade, students have a choice between AP Language, which centers on the study of nonfiction rhetoric, or Junior Seminar: The Literature of the American Self. These options multiply during 12th grade. Some choose to study canonical British and American poetry and prose in AP Literature, and others opt for one of our unique Senior Seminars (currently: Postmodern Los Angeles Literature, Novels to Film, or The Literature of Fairytale and Fantasy). All of these options allow for advanced study, as students taking senior seminars can choose to pursue honors credit in the form of independent literary research and presentation throughout the year. 

    These two years allow our students to showcase themselves as confident, articulate, and knowledgable scholars of English. As they hone the skills they have developed over the years, we challenge them to discover their authentic academic voices - both on the page and out loud - in order to discuss literature at a college level.
  • Electives & Publications

    Archer girls are passionate writers who explore a wide variety of forms and genre. Middle School students first get a taste of publication by joining our Creative Writing Club. Through this club, they write, edit, and prepare to publish a digital literary magazine called Write in the Middle. In 2012, this was the only Middle School publication in the state of California to be ranked "Excellent" by the National Council of English Teachers. These students may choose to pursue this passion in Upper School by taking Creative Writing at the introductory or advanced level. This class produces the award-winning Pillars of Salt. In 2012, this literary magazine was ranked "Superior," the highest rank possible, by the National Council of English Teachers. 

    In the information age, what is more important than clear, accurate communication? Budding journalists have two options: Yearbook or the 21st-Century Journalist. Both of these classes teach the fundamentals of good journalism and result in substantial publications. The Yearbook class teaches reporting and design in the context of the Archer community as they work toward creating the annual yearbook. Students in the 21st-Century Journalist class discuss the evolution of journalism during the 20th and 21st centuries, including exploring questions about journalistic ethics and the role of social media in an increasingly digital world. This class maintains our dynamic digital student newspaper, The Oracle, reporting news about the Archer community. We aim to create ethical, insightful, and responsible journalists who understand the power of information.

    Click here to read The Oracle.
  • Beyond the Classroom

    Passionate students and teachers of English know that literature, writing, and speaking extend beyond the classroom walls. At Archer, we offer a number of opportunities for students to seek these connections.

    The "Literature & Conference" 

    Independent Shakespeare Company

    Poet Laureate Competition

    One Book

Course Offerings

List of 11 items.

  • English 6: The Journey of Me

  • English 7: Bringing the Distant Near

  • English 8: Coming of Age

  • English 9: Literature in a Changing World

  • English 10: Exploring Western Identity

  • Junior Seminar: Literature of the American Self

  • Senior English Seminars

    • Literature of Fantasy & Fairy Tale
    • Fear in Fiction & Film
    • Beauty and Taste
    • Postmodern American Literature
  • Creative Writing

  • Creative Writing Advanced

  • The 21st Century Journalist

  • The 21st Century Journalist Advanced

The Archer School for Girls admits students of any race, color, religion, national and ethnic origin, sexual orientation or other legally protected status to all the rights, privileges, programs and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national and ethnic origin, sexual orientation or other legally protected status in its hiring or in the administration of its educational policies and programs, admissions policies, financial aid programs or other school-administered programs. 

The Archer School for Girls’ mission is to educate students in an environment specifically designed for girls. As such, the school will consider any candidate for admission who identifies as a girl. Once admitted to Archer, all students in good academic standing who abide by Archer’s code of conduct and who meet requirements for graduation will be eligible to receive an Archer diploma, regardless of any change in sexual identity or other legally protected status.