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Mark Beyreis

English Department Chair; Upper School English Teacher & Yearbook Co-Moderator
B.A. English, Stanford University
M.B.A. Marketing, Seton Hall University
M.A. English, University of Kansas

Teaching philosophy

Important skills I want to teach my students

I want them to learn how to put lightning on the page.

Teaching methods that reach these goals

The student-teacher ratio at Seven Hills makes it possible to meet with students individually about every assignment. We go over their ideas, their prewriting, and their outlines. We pop the hood on their drafts and get our hands dirty, ‘working’ the argument, the support, the overall organization, and the phrasing of key sentences. There’s nothing I can write on the board that will ever match a conversation about an individual student’s writing. As much as possible, I try to turn the class over to the students through fishbowl activities, think-pair-share, and small group work. They wrestle to the ground challenging passages, and they peer edit each other’s written work. The world doesn’t need more note takers, but it can never have enough deep thinkers who can write with purpose and collaborate with others.

My favorite projects

As part of our Shakespeare unit, students film scenes from Much Ado About Nothing. It is astounding what students can do with an iPad, a corner of the building, and the freedom to bring the play to life. One student wrote this of the experience: ‘I was playing the character Beatrice, and it was an amazing experience being able to dig into her character. I discovered the struggle that Beatrice goes through, being with Benedick, the one she loves, or being with Hero, her close friend who has just been slandered. I was able to get inside the conflict that she felt, trying to decide between the person you want to be with and the person you should be with.’

What I like best about teaching at Seven Hills

That’s easy. My favorite thing about Seven Hills is the students’ intellectual courage, the faculty’s wild passion for teaching and collaborating, the administration’s smart, principled leadership, and the Seven Hills community’s warm support of the school. Oh, wait, that’s more than one thing, isn’t it!