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.
News from the English Department
Meet the Faculty
Jesse Breite came to Christ School in 2020 from the Westminster Schools in Atlanta, bringing with him more than 16 years of experience teaching many varieties of high school English courses in Atlanta, Baltimore, and Chicago. Mr. Breite has also coached basketball every year he has taught.
He attended Concordia University in Chicago and then received his M.A. in English from Middlebury College. Mr. Breite's hobbies include poetry-reading and writing, working out, enjoying the outdoors, and partaking in many forms of American art and culture.
His poetry has been published in various magazines and journals, including Rhino, Prairie Schooner, and Crab Orchard Review, along with Best Practice pieces in EdWeek. Mr. Breite has also written libretto for three of Atlanta composer Michael Kurth's scores, including Kurth's "Miserere," performed by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in 2019.
Mr. Breite and his wife, Emily, have two children, Deacon and Vivienne.
Antonio Britto spent much of his childhood frolicking in the sand and surf of North Carolina beaches. So he was pleased to return to the Tar Heel state and join Christ School's English Department in 2019.
Mr. Britto teaches World Literature, is an assistant coach for JV football and baseball, and a dorm parent.
Mr. Britto graduated from Virginia Tech in December 2018 with a B.A in Literature and Creative Writing. While in college, he completed an internship at Blacksburg (Va.) High School, where he assisted AP English and Creative Writing classes. After graduating, Mr. Britto worked as an assistant JV baseball coach and substitute teacher at Collegiate School in Richmond.
In his free time, Mr. Britto enjoys reading, writing, playing disc golf, hiking, and cooking Italian food.
Mary Dillon has presided over Christ School's Theater Department since 2001. Audiences have enjoyed close to 40 plays directed by her during that time. She is not afraid to innovate either.
It was Mrs. Dillon's idea to introduce Winter Film as an after-school option to Greenies starting with the 2018-19 school year and Broadcast Journalism was added for 2020-21.
Mrs. Dillon teaches World Literature, Honors World Literature, Journalism, Film as Literature, and English as a Second Language (ESL). She is the faculty advisor for The Stump student news organization, which includes a print newspaper as well as streamed newscasts.
Mrs. Dillon is a graduate of the University of St. Thomas and the Bread Loaf School of English at Middlebury College. She has directed five productions for the Montford Park Players in Asheville, most recently Henry IV, Part 1 in the summer of 2019.
Will Gordon started as a Learning Resource and English teacher at Christ School in 2020 with a stated goal to empower his students inside and outside the classroom.
Mr. Gordon graduated from Clemson University in May 2020 with a B.A. in English and minors in Film and Sports Communication. At Christ School, Mr. Gordon teaches ninth grade English as well as assisting the Learning Resources Program. He also works as a dorm parent in Cuningham House.
Mr. Gordon has coached JV Soccer and Golf here, and his favorite pastimes include spending time with loved ones, watching movies, and golfing.
Wyatt Long came on board as a Learning Resource/English instructor and assistant varsity lacrosse coach in 2020.
Mr. Long graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. in English from Hartwick College in 2019. After that, he returned to his high school alma mater (Blair Academy in Blairstown, N.J.) to work in communications and coach lacrosse.
Mr. Long enjoys fishing, kayaking, hiking, cooking, and cheering on Philadelphia sports teams. His dog, Goose, accompanies him on many of his outdoor adventures.
Now going on more than a decade at Christ School, Emily Pulsifer teaches various courses in the English Department and serves as the department’s chair.
She was named our 2019-20 Teacher of the Year, allowing her to give a Commencement Address with great emotion to the Class of 2020.
Mrs. Pulsifer 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. Mrs. Pulsifer previously taught at Kents Hill School in Maine.
Mrs. Pulsifer has been a member of the faculty since 2009 and 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 their dog, Lucy.
Dr. Spenser Simrill, a former Outstanding Teacher Award winner at the University of Georgia, joined the Christ School community after a decade and a half as a college English instructor in Athens, Ga.
Outside of the classroom, he is an assistant coach for the Greenie cross country team which won the Buncombe County meet for the first time in 2019.
Dr. Simrill worked in the UGA Office of International Education as a Program Coordinator from 2002 to 2017. In the past, he has taught a semester-long project in digital media and storytelling through the Lovett School in Atlanta. Dr. Simrill graduated with a B.A. in English from UGA in 1998, and later a PhD in English from the same university in 2004. He has led or assisted programs dealing with outdoor education, photography, and publications.
His wife's name is Maggie.
Greg Townsend has fulfilled a number of roles in his five years at Christ School.
Mr. Townsend was interim Dean of Academics and Curriculum for the 2019-20 school year and started as an English instructor in 2016.
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.
Christ School is not his first exposure to schools affiliated with the Episcopal church – he graduated from St. Stephen’s Episcopal School in Bradenton, Fla., 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-Chapel Hill 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.