English Department

The SVA English Department’s mission is to prepare our high school students for college level English. Through a rigorous, skills-based curriculum focused on reading, writing, speaking and critical thinking, we believe all students that graduate from SVA should be able to do the following: 

1. Write an analytic essay using text as evidence for a convincing argument about how the author created the text to convey a specific message
2. Read a text critically using annotations to comprehend, interpret, and analyze.
3. Speak in a public setting with confidence.
4. Think critically about texts, oneself, and the world, by uncovering meanings, connections, and biases.

 In addition, the English department is determined to:

  • inspire a life-long love for reading great literature, writing convincingly and speaking to share one’s ideas effectively with others
  • support second language learners in their quest for fluency in reading, writing and speaking through a supportive English language immersion environment

Meet the Department:

Jacob Kolander, Department Chair
English 11 and 12 

My bio - a serial novel, each edition to be published on Fridays.

It was the winter of 78.  A young man and his wife, after a brief repose for winter training, reunited for the holidays and thus I, Jacob Kolander, was conceived.  Really it was an easy pregnancy.  I found myself adept at womb life and soon discovered a number of my chief interests begin to develop in the relative quiet of my existence.  A short 9 months later, the world intruded upon me and it was then that my life in conflict with my fellow man began.  From the outset, tears, crying, frustration – a number of guttural impulses were used to express my complete repulsion with all of those around me.  It wasn’t until my awakening at around 9 months old where I learned that by dictation, I could communicate my ideas as opposed to simply crapping my pants.  This marked the beginning of my life as orator of physiological needs as well as general public speaker regarding the common good. Shortly, I soon found my muse of masculinity – He-Man – the double masculine names indicating my testosterone-based connection I felt with him.  He-Man, however, was simply the genesis of my coming-of-age.  Other inspirations came from Transformers, Thundercats, and Joe, G.I. (as his name was found in the phone book.)  This continued until Middle-School when a powerful change was to come over me.

Part 2

It was in the rainy season of my teen years that I became caught up with what would turn to be a lifelong obsession with literature.  It was a dreary day – one that makes a lad consider covering up in galoshes and mackintosh – that I opened the first pages to David Copperfield.  The simple narrative was so complex for a young heart as mine that I near swooned at its conclusion for fear I would never come upon a life so intrepid and enduring as that of young Copperfield.  That was until I continued my literary journey through the classics.  I remember the background noise of hair bands playing, as if inspired by Terpsichore (too young to yet realize it was truly the workings of Euterpe – what a foolhardy boy I was!), and reclining in my M.C. Hammer pants and inflatable sneakers to trip merrily through the twisted, forest-like word play of those ancient bards.  It was to be a summer in Nebraska I won’t forget – mosquitoes, Saved by the Bell, and Shakespeare – ahhh – what a scamp!  It bloomed in me like the lotus flower and I entered a world I had never yet expected.  But what then?  Well, it all really takes off during the junior year of my stint in higher education!

...to be continued in part 3!

Sonya Moneim
English 10 and 12 

I was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I earned a B.A. degree in Psychology from the University of New Mexico in 2002, and a few years later I earned my Secondary Teaching License with endorsements in English Language Arts, Social Studies and Psychology.  Currently, I teach both 10th and 11th Grade English at South Valley Academy. I appreciate the academic engagement of the students at South Valley Academy and am enjoying getting to know the students not only as scholars but also as individuals. I really welcome the dedication and care students put into their work at school and I love experiencing and the joy, creativity, sense of humor and optimism they bring to class every day! 

Stewart Paley




Samantha Vollmar
English 9

I was born and raised in Albuquerque New Mexico.  I have a B.A. in Secondary Education with a concentration in Language Arts from The University of New Mexico.  This year I am teaching 9th grade English at the South Valley Academy.  Besides teaching, I love to spend time with my husband and family, read, travel and paint.