Welcome to Room 521's Web Site.

     "Live the life you have imagined."

    ~Henry David Thoreau

     "We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write

    poetry because we are members of the human race."

    ~John Keating (as played by Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society)

     Ms. Ellis has been teaching English for 18 years and is proud to be part of the faculty at South Hadley High School, home of the Tigers!  She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Ramapo College of New Jersey with a B.A. in Environmental Studies and Literature, and graduated Cum Laude from the University of Colorado - Boulder with a M.A. in Secondary Education - English.

    Parents and students are encouraged to check PowerSchool often.

     Ms. Ellis has a passion for the environment, literature, and the arts. She is an avid hiker, cyclist, reader, writer, and artist.  She enjoys camping, kayaking and walking with her Siberian husky, Wiley, her partner, Leslie, and their daughter, Camden-Scout. In 2014, she was honored to accept a fellowship to The Walden Woods Institute in Concord, Mass.

     Ms. Ellis's Mission Statement 

    Today's students must be able to read, write, think critically, speak, and be an effective listener in order to be successful in society. Each young person has an obligation to learn more about the world around them. To know others is to know yourself, and your place in the world.


    Course Description:

    Welcome to College Prep. English 9 and College Prep. 10 English! 

     **If your student is not reading or writing at grade-level—do not be concerned with the above description. We will work diligently throughout the year to remediate weaknesses and build upon existing strengths through a variety of academic and instructional supports***

     As students, you will spend the next several years learning with your friends and teachers, exploring subjects that interest you, participating in the school community, and finally four short years from now, taking the first steps toward being an adult. While math, science, social studies, and art are all worthy and fascinating pursuits, it is literature that helps us make sense of the world around us.

    Literature provides a “rehearsal” for the real-life experiences that confront you every day. C.S. Lewis, author of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe said, “We read to know that we are not alone.” The books that we read will deal with all of the themes that you deal with every day – friendship, struggle, love, courage, and all the other events, emotions, and struggles that make our lives interesting.  As you read, you should be thinking about how you would respond in the situations presented, and why you feel that way.  It will make the stories far more interesting and help prepare you for what you will encounter later on in life.

    Focus Points:

    A major goal of class this year will be developing more than just your English language arts skills.  We will also be developing the skills and capacities you need be successful in school in general and your academic courses in particular.  You will learn how to:

    • Read more strategically
    • Write more effectively
    • Think more critically
    • Take notes more successfully
    • Express yourself through both oral and written expression
    • Develop and effectively use a variety of organizational skills
    • Develop and effectively use a variety of study strategies

    (While the last two focus points are not specific to ELA, they are important to incorporate within all subject areas.)

     In order to improve your skills you will be expected to:

    1. Participate appropriately in in-class discussions.
    2. Read selected novels, poems, essays, and texts.
    3. Write longer, analytical essays about literature.
    4. Present oral reports to the class about topics you select.

    Materials Needed:

    You will need to bring the following to class every day:

    • A pen (blue or black) or pencil – every day!
    • A 3 subject notebook or binder with loose leaf for class notes & activities
    • A homework planner for copying down homework/projects
    • A yellow and pink highlighter
    • The book, play, text, or story that has been assigned
    • A year-long supply of Post It Notes
    • A year-long supply of notecards (I suggest four packs)
    • A durable folder with pockets to store handouts

    If you are unable to purchase any of these items, please let me know.

    Note – if you walk into class without these items, you are unprepared for class, and therefore unable to fully benefit from what we will be doing. It is critical to come to class prepared.

    Class Procedures:

    1. Please go to the bathroom before you come to class. 
    2. Please sit down immediately upon entering the class and begin the “Warm Up” assignment. 
    3. After completing your “Warm Up”, please write the day’s HW assignment into your planner.
    4. The last 5 minutes will be time for us to summarize what we have accomplished and to write any additional notes or comments about that night’s homework.
    1. Cell phones, iPads, Food – As these are all forbidden by the school, they are forbidden in class unless I designate permission to use them (learning tool etc.). If I see them (during an undesignated time), I will ask you to hand them over to me and the device will be turned into the administration. If you refuse, you will be sent to the Planning Room.


    Your grade will be calculated in the following manner:

    • Assessment 80 % (Writing, Tests, Quizzes)
    • Practice 20% (Classwork, Homework)


    Make-up & Late Policy:

    Part of becoming a successful adult is learning to manage and meet deadlines.  For that reason, I expect that you will hand in homework, projects, and other assignments on the day that they are due. 

    • For major assignments & in-class projects: If you do not hand in the assignment on time, you will have three days to complete it and hand it in.  You will lose 15% for each day it is late. For example, an assignment handed in three days late will have 45% subtracted from the real score.  Assignments will not be accepted after the three days. 
    • For homework assignments: In English class, homework is assigned to either practice a skill or concept we covered in class, or prepare for an upcoming lesson.  For that purpose, homework is due on the indicated date.  Homework may be handed in a day late for ½ credit, after that it will not be accepted for credit.
    • You are responsible for getting any and all make-up work. If you are absent for one day, you will have 3 school days to make up missed work. If you are absent for two or more days, you will need to discuss the due dates with me.
    • If you have a conflict with another class, sporting event, work commitment, or other family function, please see me before the assignment is due.  I will be more than willing to work out an arrangement. 

    Students with IEPs and 504 plans who have “extended time” accommodations are expected to meet with me - before the established due date - to discuss when the assignment will be handed in.


    Re-Take Policy:

    • Long-term writing - no revisions
    • Timed, one-class writing (not on a test) - if the score is lower than 80, then a student may revise within one week of it being returned after meeting with the teacher. Take higher grade up to 80.
    • Tests/quizzes: if the score is lower than 80, then a student may retake within one week of the test/quiz being returned after the student comes for extra help. Take higher grade up to 80.


    Discipline Policy:

    Our goal is to have an interesting, lively class.  However, it is critical that we are respectful of each other as we try to work each day in class.  If I have to ask you to stop talking or discontinue a distracting behavior more than two times in a class, you will be asked to stay after school with me and/or sent to the Planning Room. I hope to avoid these steps, but it is important that we have a respectful class so that everyone has the opportunity to learn.

    Contact Information:

    I am available every day at 7 AM in room 521.  My designated extra help day is Wednesday. I am generally after school until 2:30 Monday through Thursday. Please feel free to stop by if you have a question or concern.  You may also email me at any time with any question or concern. My email address is hellis@shschools.com  or you can leave a message for me on my school line at 413- 538-5063 ext. 3521.

     I look forward to working with you this year.  I hope to learn a lot this year and I’m sure you do too!