O'Fallon High School's English Department prepares students for college

O'Fallon Township High SchoolFebruary 11, 2014 

If you know anything about expectations that students, staff and faculty set for themselves at O'Fallon Township High School, you probably also know they get results.

Statistics back up O'Fallon High's ranking as one of the best schools in southern Illinois.

The school's average ACT score for the graduating class of 2013 is 23.3 placing the school in the top 6 percent of the schools in the state of Illinois, and it is competitive with high-performing high schools across the country, according to the most recent analysis of student performance in the state. In addition, the schools' average ACT score was the highest score earned in the metro-east.

O'Fallon High students are among the highest performing in the reading portion of the ACT test south of Chicago, in part due to the school's innovative English Department and reading initiatives implemented into the curriculum by teachers in every subject area at the school.

"No matter what English teacher I have had," O'Fallon High senior Aurora Finley said, "they have all helped me develop my writing and literature analysis skills."

English Department Chair Jodie Seipp, who has taught a variety of English courses at the school for 12 years, sees her role as an educator in partnership with students.

"Our students here want to be successful; that is why our test scores are so high," she said. "It's a partnership between teachers and students."

Seipp said she believes English students as a whole are high performers because of semester-long writing courses and writing labs that encourage and help improve student performance. She also said all O'Fallon High students are motivated to do well through a mandatory summer reading program for all grade levels and the school's strong emphasis on writing, and courses are formatted to prepare students for college.

Seipp is an 1997 O'Fallon graduate, earning a bachelor's degree in English from McKendree University in 2001. She went on to earn a master's degree in education in 2004 and a master's degree in administration in 2008, also at McKendree.

With an offering of 28 different English courses in the curriculum, O'Fallon High School principal Rich Bickel said the diverse curriculum offers a "compelling learning experience."

Bickel lauded the quality of the English Department faculty, saying teachers are "innovative and prepared," which translates into students scoring "very high" relative to other schools in English.

He said teachers are making constant effort to meet required state standards, which he said "is easier to say than to do." It takes "energy and enthusiasm" and consistent preparation, Bickel said.

"The key ingredient is that they love their students and they love teaching," Bickel said.

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