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Jim Fornshell Fosters Love of Literature

Jim Fornshell Fosters Love of Literature

Jim Fornshell Fosters Love of Literature


Mr. Fornshell is a Shakespeare expert and devoted sailor.

Staff Writer

April 27, 2023

Katharine Ellis '26

One of the Hotchkiss English department’s most experienced and devoted teachers, Mr. Jim Fornshell, is a real staple of the school community. Fornshell arrived on campus in the fall of 2000. Since then, he has served as the head of the English department as well as the sailing coach for all 23 years. In his final year at the school, Mr. Fornshell teaches Prep Humanities, upper-mid English and a senior elective, “Shakespeare and the Bible”. Whether as a teacher, mentor, or colleague, Fornshell has influenced many across campus.

Prior to his time at the school, Mr. Fornshell worked at St. James School and Lake Forest Academy, where he served as an English teacher and Dean of Academics. His passion for teaching and literature led him to earn a Masters in Education at Harvard University and an MLitt (Master of Letters) degree in Shakespeare studies at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. Following his time in Scotland, Mr. Fornshell applied for teaching positions at various boarding schools in New England, ultimately deciding to join the English department at Hotchkiss after a positive interview and visit to campus.

After arriving on campus, Fornshell was able to put his background in Shakespearean studies to work by teaching the course “Shakespeare and the Bible,” an Honors course for Seniors. Asked about the class, Mr. Fornshell said, “I have loved teaching “Shakespeare and the Bible” for many years now as it has some of the strongest English students in the school and is dealing with the world’s most powerful literature.” His colleague, Mr. Frankenbach, head of the English department, said, “James has been a wonderful advisor to his kids and colleagues. From the English standpoint, I think he can really strike that balance between being a teacher with really high standards and rigorous demands and [the] openness and friendliness that kids [enjoy]. They are willing to go for the high bar, and he is willing to support them.” Carita Gardiner, instructor in English, agreed, saying, “He was a huge part of creating the Humanities program. His work in the creation, structure, and content of that two-year sequence has had a huge impact on what we teach and how we teach.”

Mr. Fornshell’s students know him as a teacher of exacting standards, continuous inspiration, and enthusiastic engagement in classroom discussions. A student enrolled in his Uppermid English class stated, “Mr. Fornshell has been one of the most inspiring, engaging, and transformative teachers I have ever had. Not only did his upper-mid english curriculum introduce me to a world of compelling and fundamental literature I would probably not have otherwise read, but his teaching style and strict writing standards have refined my ability to convey my ideas, take healthy risks, and view the world around me with scrutiny and curiosity. I am thankful for his sarcasm, criticism, and limitless care for the students he teaches. Mr. Fornshell has truly awakened a side of me that is better prepared to analyze and appreciate books, poems, and the greater world. His dedication to teaching demonstrates the beauty of passion and generosity.”

Mr. Fornshell expressed gratitude for the talented students he has worked with and the wonderful opportunities the school has given him. When asked what he will miss most about Hotchkiss, Fornshell said, “All the goofy things the kids do - sliding in the mud on the golf course, sledding, holidays, and all the funny times sitting around the Harkness table in class.” Fornshell also values the numerous travel opportunities the school has given him, including a year-long sabbatical in 2009-2010, when he went to cooking school in Italy, studied at Oxford, and traveled to Cairo, Egypt, among other adventures.

Mr. Fornshell plans on moving to his house on Cape Cod. He plans to continue sailing and pursue his love of travel. In particular, he hopes to visit Australia to achieve his goal of traveling to all seven continents.

Katharine Ellis is a staff writer for The Record.

November 16th

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Editor's Note: This article was recovered from The Record's online archive. There may be stylistic and visual errors that interrupt the reading experience, as well as missing photos. To read this article as it appeared in print, view our print archives.

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Editorials are written by members of The Record's Executive Board. They typically center on issues related to the school or student life on campus.

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