Literature Has the Power to Change Lives


“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. 

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.

Hands-On Learning

Take Your Studies to the Next Level

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.

News from the English Department

Meet the Faculty

B.A., Broadcasting Huntington University

M.A., Middle Eastern Studies University of Michigan

Jameel Brenneman is a jack-of-all-trades and has gotten a chance to show that versatility in his first year at Christ School. Mr. Brenneman joins the faculty as an English and Arabic instructor. He also coaches soccer and tennis, along with assisting the Christ School Broadcast Network (CSBN).

Mr. Brenneman graduated in 2012 from Indiana’s Huntington University with a degree in broadcasting before getting a Master’s in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Michigan four years later. His interest in the Middle East stems from the fact that his mother’s side of the family is from Palestine.

Mr. Brenneman’s introduction to boarding school came with two years at The Stony Brook School in Long Island. He also wore many hats there, including teacher, coach, and dorm parent.

Mr. Brenneman is excited to be moving to North Carolina, in large part because he is a big fan of barbecue, so much so that he and his brother took a ten-day culinary road trip across North Carolina and South Carolina during the summer of 2018. His other interests include sports, music, and crossword puzzles.

B.A., English University of Michigan

B.A., Screen Arts and Cultures University of Michigan

English Instructor Mr. Dalton came to Christ School in 2014 after teaching for two years in Alaska. He received a B.A. in English and Screen Arts & Cultures from the University of Michigan in 2008 and earned his teaching certificate from UNC Asheville. He is currently studying for his Master’s in English at Bread Loaf School of English through Middlebury.

Mr. Dalton teaches AP English Language and Composition as well as the Honors Senior Seminar. Mr. Dalton enjoys playing board games, hiking, and walking his Alaskan rescue dog, Pumpkin.

B.A., Psychology University of St. Thomas

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.

Mrs. Dillon on Christ School Theater

B.A., English Colby College

B.A., Philosophy Colby College

Cameron Hillier teaches Introduction to Genres (9th) and British Literature (12th). Mr. Hillier 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, Mr. Hillier was voted captain and won the conference All-Sportsmanship Award. At Christ School, Mr. Hillier has been named the head coach for the Varsity Tennis team.

When he wasn’t studying philosophy or practicing lobs, Mr. Hillier volunteered at the Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter (Inc.): preparing and serving meals, helping young kids with homework, and cleaning the shelter. Mr. Hillier 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, Mr. Hillier is also an avid skier and hiker.

B.A., History Emory University

M.F.A., University of Southern Maine

Emily Pulsifer teaches various courses in the English Department and serves as the department’s chair. She is also one of the faculty advisors for the Struan, the school’s art and literary magazine, an assistant coach for cross country and track, and a writing coach for seniors as they prepare college applications. 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.

A member of the Christ School faculty since 2009, Emily is proud of her sons, Liam ’15 and Zach ’17, who thrived at Christ School. She lives in West Asheville with her husband, Andrew, and pup, Lucy.

Watch the Faculty Spotlight on Emily Pulsifer

B.A., English Appalachian State University

A graduate of Appalachian State University, Caleb Sonneland is happy to be back in the mountains as a member of the English Department.

Mr. Sonneland has previously been an English and history instructor, as well as a soccer coach, at Seattle’s Lakeside School. Prior to that, he taught for three years at Avon Old Farms, an all-boys school in Avon, CT.

A Bremerton, WA, native, Mr. Sonneland moved to Hailey, ID, in elementary school. He attended High Point University before completing his college education at Appalachian State. He graduated Cum Laude with a degree in English and a focus on “Lost Generation” literature and film noir.

Mr. Sonneland is an avid Seattle sports fan, with the exception of Liverpool FC, which he considers the greatest soccer (football) team on the planet. He regards authors Chuck Palahniuk and Cormac McCarthy as living legends. When he’s not teaching or coaching, Mr. Sonneland enjoys playing guitar, writing, snowboarding, and playing a video game or two.

B.A., English Sewanee: the University of the South

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. Mr. 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, Mr. Townsend coached soccer and baseball.

Mr. 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 Sewanee: the University of the South. Mr. 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.

Mr. Townsend’s wife, Shannon, teaches Spanish at Ira B. Jones Elementary in Asheville. The couple have two sons, Robert and William.