English Department

The four required years of English instruction constitute a cumulative program that immerses students in the diversity of literature in English and encourages them to make connections across the curriculum. All students study Shakespeare and benefit from field trips to the Shakespeare Theatre in Washington, D.C.

The English program helps students become thoughtful, lifelong readers, hones their analytical abilities, and trains them to write correctly, fluently, and creatively. In all English courses, students learn how to develop logical arguments and use a rich and precise vocabulary. The English Department uses the study of literature to lead each student to a greater sense of self, community, and the world. 

Available Courses



Donavan Arizmendi, Ph.D.

English Teacher

(703) 556-8349 View Full Bio

Dr. Arizmendi worked at Madeira from 2003 to 2006. She returned in 2008 and is a Master Teacher in the English Department. Dr. Arizmendi earned a bachelor's degree from Loyola College. She went on to study Comparative Literature (English and French), earning a doctorate from Cornell University.

Keith Ward, Ph.D.

English Department Head

(703) 556-8231 View Full Bio

Dr. Ward began teaching at Madeira in 2003 and is a Master Teacher in the English Department. He earned a bachelor's degree in English Literature from the University of California-Irvine, a master's degree in English from The Ohio State University, and a PhD in English Literature from The George Washington University.

Rebecca Zahradnik

English Teacher

(703) 556-8228 View Full Bio

Mrs. Zahradnik began teaching at Madeira in 2010. She earned a bachelor's degree in Political Science from Boston University and in English Language/Literature from the University of Maryland, and a master's degree in Secondary Education in English from the University of Maryland.

Amy Heishman

English Teacher

(703) 556-8347 View Full Bio

Ms. Amy Heishman joined the English Department in 2014, bringing with her a love of American literature and history. Ms. Heishman earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Belmont Abbey College and a master’s in American literature from North Carolina State University. While at NC State University, she was nominated twice by the English department faculty to represent excellence in research at the annual Graduate Research Symposium. Upon graduating, she taught at Duke University and Durham Technical Community College. Most recently, Ms. Heishman spent the last year working with a non-profit organization, developing material for the National Endowment for Humanities, and this summer marked her fourth year with Duke’s Talent Identification Program as an instructor. While she spent the summer helping students stage an original Shakespeare adaptation, she is most excited to share her passion of American history and literature with Madeira girls.

Jillian Meyer

English Teacher

703-556-8271 View Full Bio

Sheila McGrory

English Teacher

703-556-8207 View Full Bio

Sheila McGrory joins the English Department this year. Previously she taught at Phillips Andover, the University of Vermont, Middlebury College, and Rice Memorial High School. She has also worked as a professional writer and editor in the nonprofit world, and she’s excited to bring her passion for writing to the Madeira classroom. She holds a BA in English from Wake Forest University and an MA in English from the College of William and Mary.