AP, AP, and Away!  Super-Teacher Guides Her Students to AP Success

Veteran Brother Rice High School English teacher Mrs. Eve Donnelly sifts through the numerous emails she has received from her former students, many of whom earned college credit through her Advanced Placement class while attending Brother Rice.

“Here’s a 2014 graduate who wrote a book last year; here’s another former student who has been working on Congressional campaigns in Washington D.C.; and many more who just wanted to say ‘thanks’ for helping.” Mrs. Donnelly has been teaching for 26 years, the past twelve leading 11th grade students through the rigors of AP Language and Composition.  The success rate of her students has been staggering: In the spring of 2018, her AP class performed to the tune of a 97% pass rating–that’s compared to a mean pass rating of 57.2% among the 580,000+ students who took the exam this past May. “Eve is an absolutely extraordinary teacher, ” remarked Brother Rice President Dr. Kevin Burns. “Our young men are fortunate to have the benefit of her expertise and efforts everyday when they come to class.

What’s the secret?  Donnelly’s strategy focuses on her honest, pragmatic approach.  Her students are clever enough to understand that passing the AP exam can exempt them from Composition 101 and/or English 101 classes in college, but Donnelly is more interested in imparting lifelong learning skills:  “I tell them the purposes of their assignments; the main impetus is that I’m teaching them how to think.” Critical thinking may be a lost art, especially in an era of almost limitless electronic information, but not to English students at Brother Rice.  According to Donnelly, “discerning the point of any type of discourse–written or spoken–amid all the noise and fluff in the ether” is the greatest obstacle students face. “Setting high expectations and helping our students look at the world with a critical eye is more important than ever.”    

Just ask any of her former students.  

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Brother Rice sophomore English II-H students with a minimum grade of 88% (B) for the school year may enroll in AP Language & Composition for junior year.  Junior Honors or AP English students with a minimum grade of 88% (B) may enroll in AP Literature & Composition for senior year.