About English with Mrs. Rains

If you’re here, there’s a good chance you’re enrolled in one of my classes. I have been a high school English and history teacher for over twenty-five years.  I am actively involved in curriculum development and implementation, and I am especially interested in using technology to engage students and bring a more varied learning experience to the classroom. In 2015, I was honored to receive the The Kennedy Center/Stephen Sondheim Inspirational Teacher Award. This tremendous honor was the result of a former student’s nomination citing the impact I had on her life. You can read about the award at the Kennedy Center website.

I teach both CP and Honors English I here at Gatlinburg-Pittman. CP stands for college prep and is the English most appropriate for most students; after four years of the CP English curriculum, you should be ready to take on the challenges of most college reading and writing tasks. Honors English is intended to challenge the best and brightest English students, preparing them to become superior writers, speakers, and consumers of information. Honors differs from College Prep in that it is faster paced, covers vocabulary in a more in-depth manner, approaches the study of literature in an analytical mode and does not cover basic grammar skills. This course emphasizes critical thinking.


The literature we will be reading in both classes will include Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird and  William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. In Honors English we will add R. L. Stephenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder as well as selected poems and short stories. Other novels will be included as the curriculum develops throughout the year.

I am so excited about an update to Honors English! This year for the first time, Honors English I class will be paired with AP Human Geography to help students better apply their analytical skills to practical applications such as interpreting non-fiction texts and studying the development of themes across differing platforms.

I frequently tell my students that practicing writing is the only way to improve or stay sharp as a writer, and today, July 1, 2015, I decided to put my money (or at least my fingers) where my mouth is by starting my first blogs. If you’re interested, you can check out Socrates Underground, covering educational topics, or Spontaneous Whimsy, a more personal blog on a wide range of topics. (I’m happy to note that Socrates has been nominated for an award for new blogs!)

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