English, Creative Writing, Debate, Forensics, Journalism

English teachers holding books

English Department Staff

The Edison High School English Department seeks to fully-engage all students by challenging them with well-chosen pieces of literature, appropriate writing assignments, and oral presentation and viewing experiences. At each grade level, students study elements of fiction, vocabulary, grammar and mechanics, and writing conventions and forms.

Our goal is to provide a quality education which covers the vital strands important to the study of English: an integration of literature and reading skills, writing, speaking and listening, and multi-media and language study. It is our goal that all students who leave Edison will take with them a life-long love of reading and writing and that they will be comfortable speaking in interpersonal, small, and large group situations. They should be able to write for personal and professional purposes and for continued education. They should be able to act as resourceful researchers and writers. This writing should reflect the ability to generate ideas, think clearly, compose fluently, and revise and edit for an audience.

Students should have a vocabulary suitable for their own needs, should understand the history and structure of their language, and should be able to use the conventions of grammar correctly for their audiences.

We also believe that film is a form of art and literature worthy of judicious classroom study. Students must learn to evaluate the appeal of film and television as these media have an ever-increasing impact on our personal and communal lives.

Students should be familiar with the technology made available to them at Thomas A. Edison High School. Through internet research, power point presentations, and use of laptop computers, they develop the personal initiative to use these resources effectively. The English program encourages all students to develop skills which will benefit them for a lifetime.

Activities Supporting the English Program


The English Department offers classes in journalism, photojournalism, and creative writing. In addition, Edison publishes:

  • A yearbook - The Talon, order online, code 5211.
  • A newspaper - The Current
  • A news show- Eagle News 
  • A literary magazine - The Erudite

Many English classes produce their own classroom anthologies of student work. Teachers frequently offer publication opportunities for students through studentreasures.com.

Reasoning Skills

  • To complement the ongoing study of vocabulary and reading, the English department participates in the Reasoning Skills curriculum. This course prepares students for the Scholastic Aptitude Test.

Speech, Forensics and Debate

  • Forensics and debate are offered as classes and as extra-curricular activities. These speech activities encourage students to compete in extemporaneous and impromptu speaking, oral interpretation of their own or published work, dramatic interpretation, policy debate, and Lincoln-Douglass debate. They participate in the Northern Virginia Catholic Forensic League as well as the Virginia High School League debate and forensics programs. Our teams also attend competitions all over the United States; several students will attend the Grand National competition in Boston this spring.

Drama and Film Study

  • Edison offers a full range of drama classes and productions, as well as an IB Film Study curriculum. Students participate in the annual Folger Shakespeare festival and write and produce one-act plays. Students are encouraged by the English department to participate in these fine-arts activities as an extension of the English curriculum.

Writing Competitions

  • Students are encouraged to enter writing contests. Each year the English Teachers Association of Northern Virginia (ETA/NV) sponsors a writing competition for Fairfax County students. The Virginia High School League (VHSL) evaluates student writing in the areas of journalism and creative writing. These awards are presented to publications at the annual VHSL Publications Workshop in Richmond, VA in October. In addition to these, students may enter the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) writing contest. One teacher oversees the writing contest brochures and keeps a bulletin board current.

Library Programs

  • Ninth-grade classes receive an orientation to the library. The staff works with the department as needs arise for assistance with research, book talks, or preparation of a reserve book cart for a specific unit of study.

College and Career Center

  • The English department is always welcome in the Career Center. Classes may schedule a block in the center to learn about careers and colleges and investigate the materials available to them.

English Showcase/Bulletin Board

  • A bulletin board for the dissemination of information concerning writing contests, travel abroad, English electives, and other department materials is kept up-to-date in the main hallway downstairs outside of Subschool I. In addition, teachers may utilize the showcase at the end of the English hallway for displays.


  • Teachers from the English department frequently coach student speakers for the baccalaureate, honors convocation, and graduation ceremonies.