San Francisco High School of the Arts

High School English Department

Our English program primarily focusses on Western classics. Through activities that enhance core language skills as well as critical thinking and analysis, students discover the merits and inspirations of traditional values. Students also explore their creative writing skills with interdisciplinary activities such as play-writing and media projects.

The literature-based program enables us to focus on developing students’ abilities to analyze literary elements, develop complex rhetorical analysis, and craft organized and academically rigorous written responses. Students will also hone their grammar, advance their vocabulary, explore creative writing and poetry, and improve their public speaking.

For international students from non-English speaking backgrounds, our Intensive ESL Program facilitates the development of essential academic and everyday English language skills.

Course Description

  • English I
  • English II/English II Honors

Grades Offered: 9

Prerequisites: none

UC Approved: Yes

This is a comprehensive survey course for reading, writing, and public speaking. Students will analyze literary elements including plot, setting, and character development in multiple literary genres, including novels, short stories, and poetry. They will establish a strong writing process through sustained practice in writing essays, generating literary responses, and composing their own creative works. They will also continue to expand their academic vocabulary, demonstrate proper application of grammar mechanics, and strengthen their public speaking skills.

Students will learn fundamental concepts of drawing, including line, value, light, proportion, and composition. They will create multiple works using graphite pencils, charcoal, and pen and ink, while developing the ability to express their observations accurately in their work.

Grades Offered: 10

Prerequisites: English I or equivalent

UC Approved: Yes

In English II, students will focus on rhetorical analysis, applying rhetoric to their own writing/speeches, and writing extensive academic papers. They will refine their listening comprehension, reading comprehension, writing skills, and academic vocabulary; prepare and deliver effective messages in a variety of ways; learn how to conduct an interview; and give a speech on an academic topic. Finally, they will complete a substantial creative writing project.

  • English III/ English III Honors (American Literature)
  • English IV (British Literature)

Grades Offered: 11

Prerequisites: English II or equivalent

UC Approved: Yes

In English III, students will explore American culture, traditions, and history through a diverse study of literature, beginning with oral stories of Native Americans and ending with works from contemporary American authors. Major themes include the forming of American identity; transcendentalism; national conflicts and the Civil War; modernism and postmodernism; and modern media and its implications. Possible readings include: The Grapes of Wrath, A Raisin in the Sun, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Moby Dick, and The Red Badge of Courage.

Grades Offered: 12

Prerequisites: English III or equivalent

UC Approved: Yes

British Literature​​ will explore​ ​​the origins of the English language and English literature in-depth by focusing on British classical works and a few other European works that have significantly influenced western thought and culture. Possible readings include: Pride and Prejudice, Lord Jim, The Death of Ivan Ilyich, Macbeth, A Man For All Seasons, Excerpts from ​Utopia, Canterbury Tales, Gulliver’s Travels.

  • AP English Language and Composition
  • AP English Literature and Composition

Grades Offered: 11,12

Prerequisites: English II or equivalent

UC Approved: Yes

AP English Language​​ is designed to help students become both skilled readers of prose written in a variety of rhetorical contexts and skilled writers who compose for a variety of purposes. Students will also prepare for the AP test in May.

Grades Offered: 12

Prerequisites: English III or equivalent

UC Approved: Yes

AP English Literature​​ will look at great works of literature from the 1600’s until the present and analyze not only their timeless themes, but also their authors’ craft and use of literary elements. Students will also prepare for the AP test in May.

English Department Faculty


Mr. Lee Randazzo, M.A.

English & History Teacher
Mr. Randazzo has an M.A. in ESL teaching for all ages and is certified in general education elementary school teaching (for all subjects K-6). He is a licensed teacher with over 20 years of teaching experience in public and private schools. Mr. Randazzo also served as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer in Mongolia as a teacher trainer. He trained and certified international faculty for the teaching profession. Mr. Randazzo has extensive experience in school residential programs.

Ms. Christina Simpson

English Teacher
Christina Simpson graduated cum laude from UC Berkeley with a B.A. in History. After graduating, she worked at the Richmond Museum of History and created a curriculum for students in the city based on her historical research of the post-war era. Her classroom experience includes teaching English, History, and Music at the School of the Madeleine in Berkeley and the Educational Enrichment Center in Pleasanton as well as coaching chamber music at the College of Marin. Her writing will be featured in an upcoming article that details her experience with synesthesia.

Ms. Emily Csikszentmihalyi

English Teacher
Ms. Csikszentmihalyi received her B.A. in Political Science from Tufts University. In addition to teaching English, she brings her writing and editing skills to the school’s publications division and tutors the elementary school students in the after school program.

High School Academic Departments

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