“What is wonderful about great literature is that it transforms the man who reads it towards the condition of the man who wrote.” - E.M. Forster
Our English faculty believes literature has the power to change the lives of our students. Not only do we study the classics, but we also introduce our students to diverse works we feel will have an immediate impact on their lives. From Homer and Hemingway to Joan Didion and James Baldwin, we value writing that transforms lives. Nothing is more important to our English faculty than to create a culture that fosters a love of learning. We have observed that a student’s emotional and social growth follow close behind an appreciation for the art of literature, fostered by close reading and classroom discussion.
The writing curriculum is strenuous and demanding and balances scholastic and creative projects to ensure students are prepared for college and provided ample opportunities for imaginative development. We encourage participation in writing competitions and the Struan, the school’s annual journal of art and creative writing. Each year, as part of our Godwin-Hauser Writing Series, we invite distinguished writers to visit our classrooms to share techniques and insights with our boys. We’ve enjoyed the company of writers like the poet Billy Collins and one of our local favorites, Ron Rash.
Introduction to Genres, World Literature, American Literature, British Literature: these courses comprise the core of our curriculum, though eligible students can choose AP Language and Composition and AP Literature and Composition during their junior and senior years. For those literature lovers and committed writers, we also offer an assorted elective series. “Science Fiction,” “War in Literature,” “Film as Literature,” and “Creative Writing: Personal Narrative” are just a few of the electives we offer on a rotational basis.
English Instructor Brent Kaneft challenged his AP Language and Composition course with an assignment called “This I Believe,” a project inspired by NPR. The assignment called for the boys to make a statement about something they believe and to write in support and explication of that belief in 500 or fewer words.
The Christ School community is brimming with talented artists and writers, and nowhere is this more evident than in the Struan, the school’s annual journal of art and creative writing. On its pages, you’ll find the inspired creations of students and faculty.
The Godwin-Hauser Visiting Writer Program celebrates writing, reading, and the connections we make through literature. The program was made possible through an endowment seeded by Col. William Hauser ’50 and the author Gail Godwin, who spent time on this campus as she wrote a book about an all-boys boarding school.
B.A., Screen Arts & Cultures, University of Michigan
Show him to the stage and Joe Dalton is comfortable. However, the Spring Theater Director at Christ School is also a JV Football Coach.
This is Dalton’s third year as an English Instructor. He received a B.A. in English and Screen Arts & Cultures from the University of Michigan in 2008. Dalton earned his teaching certificate from UNC Asheville and taught in Alaska before returning to Asheville.
Dalton enjoys playing board games, hiking, and disc golf in his spare time. His wife’s name is Stacey.
M.A., Literature, Bread Loaf School of English
Mary Landingham Dillon teaches World Literature, Honors World Literature, Journalism, Film as Literature, and English as a Second Language (ESL). She is a graduate of the University of St. Thomas and the Bread Loaf School of English at Middlebury College. She also serves as a frequent director and executive producer for student theater productions.
Kyle Fraser teaches in the English Department. As a student at Hampden-Sydney College, Kyle was a member of the Old Dominion Athletic Conference All-Academic Team and the recipient of the Shelley A. Marshall Short Story Award. He was also captain of the varsity lacrosse team and the school’s representative with the NCAA. He teaches World Literature, American Literature, and Intro to Genres, coaches football and lacrosse, and serves as houseparent in Cuningham House.
B.A., Philosophy, Colby College
Cameron Hillier joins the English Department and will teach Introduction to Genres (9th) and British Literature (12th). He will also assist Mary Jane Morrison with the eighth grade. Cameron graduated from Colby (Waterville, ME) with a double major in English and Philosophy, quite an accomplishment by a four-year-starter on the tennis team. His senior year, Cameron was voted captain and won the conference All-Sportsmanship Award. At Christ School, Cameron has been named the head coach for the Varsity Tennis team.
When he wasn’t studying philosophy or practicing lobs, Cameron volunteered at the Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter (Inc.): cooking, preparing, and serving meals; helping young kids with homework; and cleaning the shelter. Cameron looks forward to continuing his philanthropic activities while at Christ School, and when he can, he hopes to find some water to practice his newfound hobbies, paddle boarding and kayaking. No stranger to terra firma, Cameron is also an avid skier and hiker.
M.A., English Literature, James Madison University
Brent Kaneft serves as the English Department Chair. He is a graduate of the University of South Carolina, and he received his Master’s degree in Literature from James Madison University. He teaches AP Language and Composition and American Literature. Brent is also the head of the Rock Climbing program at Christ School.
M.Ed., Reading Specialist, University of Louisiana
Before joining the faculty at Christ School, Mary Jane Morrison taught English and Study Skills at the University of Louisville in Kentucky. While there, she was also an instructor in the Louisville Adult Literacy Program. Mary Jane teaches AP English Literature, Writing Essentials, and eighth grade English, and is the head of the Writing Center.
M.F.A.,, University of Southern Maine
Emily Pulsifer teaches Intro to Genres and serves as advisor for the Struan while also coaching swimming and track. She earned her B.A. in History from Emory University, and her M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Southern Maine. Previously she taught at Kents Hill School in Maine. Since joining the Christ School faculty in 2009, Emily has directed the media center, taught Creative Writing, and served as college counselor for our ninth and tenth graders.
M.A.T., English, University of North Carolina
Ed.S, Educational Leadership, Western Carolina University
English teacher Greg Townsend has come full circle with the second half of his educational career. Townsend retired from Asheville City Schools in June 2015. He spent 31 years at Asheville High School as a teacher, Assistant Principal, and finally Principal of Asheville’s SILSA program (School of Inquiry and Life Sciences) from 2005 to 2015. Outside of the classroom, Townsend coached soccer and baseball.
Townsend came to Christ School as a teacher in 2016. This is not his first exposure to schools affiliated with the Episcopal church – he graduated high school from St. Stephen’s Episcopal School in Bradenton, FL, before going on to receive a B.A. in English from the University of the South - Sewanee. Townsend also holds a M.A.T. in English from the University of North Carolina and an Ed.S in Educational Leadership from Western Carolina University.
Townsend’s wife, Shannon, teaches Spanish at Ira B. Jones Elementary in Asheville. The couple have two sons, Robert and William. Townsend says that William has the goal of “going into the family business” and becoming a teacher. Robert aspires to be an education ranger for the National Park Service or the U.S. Forest Service.