As a Gould English student you will have the opportunity to study English with great teachers/writers AND:

  • Work in a Writing Tutorial
  • Create a Digital Portfolio to showcase your academic and personal passions
  • Publish a Literary Magazine
  • Connect through Writing Across the Curriculum
  • Engage in the Richard Blanco Writers Series

English develops careful and avid readers who think clearly, test ideas in empathetic discussion, and move those ideas through forceful writing. The five modes of English are a process of continual understanding. Reading, Writing, Speaking, Listening, and Thinking are a means of finding success in life, no matter where one’s passion leads.

Students employ design thinking, project based learning, portfolios, speeches, and debates among other means to understand their place in the world. Students connect their learning in all realms of the academic, athletic, and residential life.

College professors, writers, and doers from all walks of life engage English students in class regularly. Students read about and work with Richard Blanco and the writers he brings to Gould Academy each year through the Richard Blanco Writers Series.

Summer Reading

Download the Summer Reading Assignment

Departmental Requirements

Four years of English: all students must be enrolled in an English course at all times.

Embedded Honors:
All courses that are not AP English have the Embedded Honors option.  Students who are interested in further challenging themselves can earn honors credit by completing significantly more demanding version of an assignment each term.


English Course Classes Include:

World Literature

Who am I? Who am I in relation to the world around me?

In this course, students explore questions of purpose and identity through reflection and action based on a shared curriculum with Ninth Grade Seminar and the Four Point Program.

Best teaching practices, such as daily meditations, journaling, Harkness discussions, free-choice reading, and project-based activities create the foundation for students to grapple with these complex questions. The course culminates in an intensive, reflective experience where each student creates and presents a Ted Talk that connects their travels abroad with a personal story. Texts may include The Translator, The Alchemist, How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia, The Good Braider, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, the Little Chinese Seamstress, Persepolis, and Real Time.

European Literature

What is power? What individual or groups of individuals have power and why?

Project-based activities create the cornerstone for exploration in this course. From designing a historical-fiction graphic novel to writing and producing their own play, students develop empathy by actively participating in a social justice curriculum. Activities are scaffolded with research-driven methodologies such as daily journaling and whole-class Harkness discussions. Through analysis of historical and current events, students reflect on how they can use their position of privilege at a boarding school in order to better the lives of others. Texts may include Maus, The Sunflower, Frankenstein, and The Tempest.

American Literature

During Gould Academy’s eleventh grade year of English, students will be exposed to a variety of poems, essays, stories, plays, and novels that illuminate the central themes of the course: identity, voice, life, freedom and justice, transcendentalism, and decisions. Students will journey through the five realms of English (reading, writing, speaking, listening, and thinking) focusing on literature and language through critical thinking and analytical skill development. Each textual analysis starts with essential questions based on each trimester’s themes. Students will consider texts in relation to themselves, the world, and other texts. Students will use the essential questions from the course to construct their own essential questions for each assigned project. In addition to a teacher-edited anthology of poems, short stories, and essays, texts may include The Tribes of Palos Verdes, The Great Gatsby, and Their Eyes Were Watching God. (Eleventh grade requirement unless enrolled in AP English Language and Composition)

AP English Language and Composition

In this introductory college-level course students read and analyze a broad range of challenging nonfiction prose selections, deepening their awareness of rhetoric and how language works. Through close reading and frequent writing, students develop their ability to read, write, speak, listen, and think while gaining an awareness of purpose, strategy, and style. Course readings feature expository, analytical, personal, and argumentative texts from a variety of authors and historical contexts. Students examine and work through essays, letters, speeches, and images. Students conference on their writing in class and in the Writing Center. Summer reading and writing are required. Students enrolled in this course will be expected to take the AP English Language and Composition exam.
(Eleventh grade offering by departmental recommendation.)

AP English Literature and Composition

Advanced Placement Literature and Composition is a yearlong challenging course which approaches literature and its themes from a global perspective. We will delve into some of the universal themes of humanity through close readings of a variety of works within the evolving literary canon. The goal will be to read, discuss, and write about these works with precision, sensitivity, clarity, and imagination. The overarching questions will include: How does our past shape our vision of ourselves and our world, our hopes, or our future? What is the nature of evil and its punishment? What does love teach us about life and ourselves? What is literature, and why are we driven to create it? Possible reading selections may include Oedipus, The Awakening, Othello, M. Butterfly, Pride and Prejudice, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, and Purple Hibiscus.

Contemporary Classics

This course will address what is meant when a book is considered both “contemporary” and “classic.” How can a text be both? What do the texts have in common thematically? How were the texts influenced by the time in which they were written? What effect did the texts have on the world? Is it important to read them? Why? How can what we learn from these texts and their characters and can they expand our understanding of ourselves, the world, and the study of literature?

Magic Realism

It is said that in South America there is no surrealism. Everything is magic. These novels, although rooted in the real, somehow slide toward the magical. Stories from both South and North America ask the reader to question reality and believability. Selections may include: One Hundred Years of Solitude, Going After Cacciato, House of Spirits, and Collected Fictions by Jorge Luis Borges.

Culture and Identity: Crossing Borders

In Western cultures, identity often tends to be defined in binary terms: an individual is either black or white, male or female, native or immigrant. This course seeks to explore the nature of identity by focusing on texts in which categories of identity — specifically those of race and nationality — are represented as fluid rather than concrete. Texts may include Dreaming in Cuban, Interpreter of Maladies, A Thousand Splendid Suns, among others.

Creative Writing

“Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say.” – Barbara Kingsolver. Students will study contemporary short stories and poetry while writing and workshopping their own pieces in both genres. Students will keep a writing journal that incorporates expression in other media to tap creative energies as components of the writing process. The course culminates in a portfolio presentation.

Banned Books and Films

This course explores the First Amendment and its importance to our country and culture. We will consider why books and films are challenged, who does the challenging, and why some books and films are ultimately banned. Through reading, discussion and writing, students will reflect on themes and ideas found in the text and on the screen and then delve into what makes them so “dangerous” or “inappropriate” to deserve harsh criticism and objections. Texts may include The Chocolate War, The Handmaid’s Tale, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Films may include The Last Temptation of Christ, Clockwork Orange, and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

Hip Hop: Race, Culture, and Art

This course has three movements. First, understanding the history of contemporary Urban Poetry. Second, acquiring the language to read, write, speak, listen, and think about these texts. Thirty-three literary terms will be used to study poetry, with insight from many notable writers. The terms include rhyming couplets, rhyme pattern, stressed/unstressed syllables, scansion, feet, internal rhyme, end rhyme, and slant rhyme among others. Third, critical analysis of each text. Students will write many single and multi-paragraph papers and present two multi-media presentations.

English Department Faculty

Denise Manning

Dean of Students
English Department Chair
B.A. Simmons College


Mrs. Manning attended Simmons College, where she earned her B.A. in English and Education. She worked briefly in public schools before embracing the boarding school life. She has taught ninth, tenth, and twelfth graders, headed Davidson Hall, coached Girls’ Soccer, and led the Rugrats Program. She enthusiastically supports Gould’s Four Point Program and the Advising Program, and serves as an advisor with her husband, History Teacher Mr. Rob Manning. Sometimes, when Mrs. Manning isn’t working with students, she has time to read and cook! She and her husband, and their dog, Luna, live on campus in the Hutchinson House. Their son, Alec, attends Kenyon College.

Dave Bean

English Teacher
B.S. University of Vermont
M.F.A. University of Utah
Writing Center
Skateboard Program Director
Prep Snowboarding Coach


Mr. Bean has taught full-time since 1991 in public and private schools in Utah, Massachusetts, and Maine. His fiction, non-fiction, journalism, and poetry are widely published, and his commentaries have appeared on National Public Radio. He and his wife, Ms. Brooke Libby, Director of College Counseling, live near campus with their daughters Zoe ‘17 and Lilo ‘19; and son, Utah. Mr. Bean enjoys protecting and wandering wild places.

Courtney Cook
English Teacher
B.A. Kent State University
MFA George Mason University

Courtney Cook is a new addition to the English Department at Gould. She is a graduate of the Master of Fine Arts program at George Mason University, where she earned a degree in Creative Writing. Before moving to Gould, Courtney was the senior and sophomore English instructor for two years at Wasatch Academy. Prior to teaching high school, she was a teaching assistant at George Mason University and the Outreach Coordinator for the Sally Merten Writers in the Schools program. Courtney enjoys hiking, camping, skiing, yoga, reading and writing poetry, and cooking.   

Kelly Hood

English Teacher
B. A. Dartmouth College
Girls’ Varsity Field Hockey Head Coach
Softball Coach


Ms. Hood received her BA from Dartmouth College where she majored in English, minored in Education and Human Development, and completed a NH 5-12 teaching certification program. In addition to her academic endeavors, she played Division I Field Hockey, earning All-American and Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year honors her senior season. After graduating from Dartmouth, Ms. Hood spent three years teaching at Holderness School, her high school alma mater. Her partner’s job as a KC-135 pilot for the Maine Air National Guard brought her to the Pine Tree State where she fell in love with the wild ruggedness of the backcountry. When she’s not in the classroom or on the athletic fields, Ms. Hood spends her time outdoors. She’s backpacked over 2,700 miles, including summiting all 48 4,000 footers in New Hampshire, thru-hiking the entire Appalachian Trail, and completing a 160-mile section of Vermont’s Long Trail. A dog lover by nature, her Rhodesian Ridgeback, Jack, is usually ten steps ahead of her wherever they venture. Ms. Hood is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in The Teaching of English from Teachers College of Columbia University where she is composing a thesis that includes an anthology of poems about her experiences in nature.

Jay Riley

English Teacher
B.A. Bates College
M.B.A. Northwestern University
Winter Outing Club
Road Cycling Head Coach


Mr. Riley first imagined teaching after an inspiring experience in 11th grade English at The Noble & Greenough School. Graduating from Bates College, he then earned a  M.B.A. from Northwestern University. Mr. Riley studied in Avignon and Paris, France for parts of both college and graduate school. His 30-year business career included over 20 years in the medical device industry, initially as a company owner and ending as the chief executive officer of a New Hampshire subsidiary of The Roche Group of Basel, Switzerland. He enjoys helping students learn the real-world benefits of learning to read and think well so they can write clearly and persuasively. Mr. Riley is an enthusiastic skier and cyclist, has climbed a variety of peaks in the French and Swiss Alps, and has enjoyed ski mountaineering trips including the Haute Route and the Shackleton Traverse across South Georgia Island. He served on Gould’s Board of Trustees from 2003-2010, chaired Gould’s 2006 Strategic Planning Committee, and delivered Gould’s commencement address in 2011. Two of his three children graduated from Gould.

Ben Stonebraker

English Teacher
B.A. Colby College
Prep Alpine Ski Coach
Boys’ Junior Varsity Lacrosse Head Coach


Mr. Ben Stonebraker has been steeped in New England independent school tradition. He was born and raised at Hebron Academy where his father chaired the English Department and his mother was Librarian in Chief. Ben attended Holderness School before matriculating at Colby College where he majored in English and Poetry. After graduating, he pursued his passion for the out-of-doors in the vast expanse of Western Montana. His love of skiing, white water, and the mountains served him well as a ski coach and kayaking instructor. Aspen, Colorado was a logical next step for Mr. Stonebraker. During all his years in the West, he never lost sight of his roots in Maine or his desire to return to them. In the summers he migrated to the shores of Moose Pond to continue as the Counselor Training Director at Camp Winona. When a position in Gould’s English Department became available, Mr. Stonebraker rushed for the opportunity to continue the Stonebraker legacy of instilling a love of literature and wilderness and the minds of the youth.