HSLDA Online Academy | Foundations in Writing

Foundations in Writing

Master Teacher:  Melissa Barnes

Melissa Barnes, High School Classroom Teacher for EnglishMaster Teacher

Melissa Barnes

EdS, University of Michigan
MA, University of Michigan
BA, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Melissa Barnes earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in English education, literacy education, and curriculum development. These culminated from a lifelong love of reading, writing, and teaching that began on the first day of first grade when she came home and announced that she wanted to be a teacher.

Melissa has taught in a variety of public school settings, ranging from traditional high schools and a junior high school to a night school program at an alternative high school. She has taught grades 6-12 and enjoyed them all for different reasons. She has also been a homeschool mom for thirteen years. In addition to teaching, Melissa enjoys serving as a freelance writer and editor for the Home Educators Association of Virginia (HEAV) and has written for local newspapers in years past.

Melissa lives in Chesapeake, Virginia with her family.  In her occasional spare time, you can find Melissa reading books, playing games or watching movies with her family, or enjoying coffee with a friend.

 She has been teaching with the Academy since 2016.



Classroom Teacher:  Brittellen Luciano

Brittellen Luciano, High School Classroom Teacher for EnglishClassroom Teacher

Brittellen Luciano

MA, University of Massachusetts at Lowell
BA, University of Massachusetts at Lowell

Brittellen Luciano earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees in criminal justice from the University of Massachusetts. While working at her graduate internship, she began teaching youth within the Department of Juvenile Justice and fell in love with teaching. Soon after, she began teaching high school English in Massachusetts before she and her husband felt called to move to Pensacola, Florida.

Brittellen continued her teaching career in Florida, working with at-risk youth and in ESE and regular education classrooms. She believes that all students have a voice and the ability to be great readers and writers. She sets high expectations for her students and enjoys guiding them in the process of meeting and exceeding both their course goals and their own personal goals. She loves being able to read and teach both the classics and the modern literature that she loved as a student.

Throughout her life, Brittellen has always had a love of reading. As a child, she could always be found with her nose in a book or writing her own stories. She enjoys spending time with her family and friends, watching her kids play sports, curling up with a good book and a cup of coffee, baking, and going to the beach. She and her husband have four children, and she feels blessed to be able to stay home to raise and teach them while tutoring students and providing English classes and workshops for the homeschool community.

Brittellen has been teaching with the Academy since 2017.

Classroom Teacher:  Linda Davidson

Linda Davidson, High School Classroom Teacher for EnglishClassroom Teacher

Linda Davidson

MA, Lancaster University (UK)
BA, San Francisco State University

Linda Davidson has been a teacher for the past seventeen years. She has taught in both brick-and-mortar public schools and online. Her passion is to teach the love of great literature to her students and to help them develop into strong writers. Linda hopes to one day read classic novels that were written by her favorite authors—her students. In the meantime, she has a particular fondness for British literature, including the marvelously moody Jane Eyre and the eerie Wuthering Heights. Linda’s favorite book of all time is the Bible, for its precepts and encouragement, as well as for its literary merit.

Linda loves to write for all purposes. She has written a full-length novel, several songs, and many short stories. She currently writes history and science pieces for educational websites. She is proud to homeschool her two children and enjoys watching them learn every day. In her very limited free time, Linda enjoys reading, watching movies from the 1930s and 1940s, listening to worship music, and playing the piano.

Linda has been teaching with the Academy since 2017.

Classroom Teacher:  Monica Bowman

Monica Bowman, High School Classroom Teacher for EnglishClassroom Teacher

Monica Bowman

BS, University of Minnesota

Monica Bowman earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota. She completed a significant portion of her coursework at the Christian-Albrecht University in Germany as a Rotary Scholar. Reading, discussing, and analyzing Jane Eyre in German is an experience she has never forgotten.

Monica worked in communications and marketing, both for smaller agribusinesses and for enormous multinational corporations, and she discovered that being able to write clearly and effectively is a skill with value far beyond the classroom. Whatever students pursue after high school or college, Monica believes that the hard work they put into becoming excellent communicators during their school years will produce fruit throughout their lives.

While homeschooling her three children and teaching other homeschooled students in a virtual co-op, Monica delights in helping them process everything they learn through a biblical worldview. She considers the ability to discern scriptural truth from the cacophony of worldliness to be a prime goal of a Christian education.

In her free time, Monica enjoys hiking and camping with her family, leading inductive Bible studies, visiting art museums, and cultivating her latest self-taught hobby, painting with acrylics.

Monica has been teaching with the Academy since 2017.

Classroom Teacher:  Julia Rich

Julia Rich, High School Classroom Teacher for EnglishClassroom Teacher

Julia Rich

MEd, University of Vermont
BA, Quinnipiac University

Julia Rich graduated with a BA in English from Quinnipiac University. With a passion for reading and writing, she soon began her path to teaching by receiving her master’s in education from the University of Vermont.

Julia has taught various English classes for students in grades 8–11, including American Studies, which she co-taught with a history teacher. She really enjoys working with students on their comprehension and writing skills through different types of literature, leading discussions that help students make connections to themselves and the world around them. She believes that reading creates great writers and enjoys helping her students find their confidence and voice through various authors and themes.

Julia took some time away from teaching to start a family. She can often be found cooking, going to the beach, or taking hikes with her husband and three children. She enjoys reading short stories by Ernest Hemingway, and her favorite book is Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston.

Julia has been teaching with the Academy since 2017.

Classroom Teacher:  Charmayne Rush

Charmayne Rush, High School Classroom Teacher for EnglishClassroom Teacher

Charmayne Rush

MEd, Liberty University
BA, Old Dominion University

Charmayne Rush earned her BA in English education at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. A firm believer that the skills learned in ninth grade English are essential to later success, Charmayne was blessed to teach ninth grade English for a local Virginia public school. During her time as a classroom teacher, Charmayne found great joy in guiding young writers to discover that they are gifted with unique voices and perspectives to share with the world. In addition to teaching, Charmayne co-founded a school mentoring program, enlisting the support of her church family and local business owners to share practical skills and inspiration with students in preparation for life after high school.

After she and her husband welcomed their first child, Charmayne decided to stay at home while completing her MEd in teaching and learning (English Cognate) through Liberty University’s online program. Charmayne’s coursework with Liberty taught her to revisit and expand her approach to academic writing and literary analysis through the lens of a Christian worldview. Her time as an online student also opened her eyes to the particular challenges and rewards of virtual learning, and she is excited to use her experience to create a rich and fulfilling virtual educational environment for her Academy students.

Charmayne has been teaching with the Academy since 2017.

Duration: Yearlong course offered in fall/spring (32 weeks).
Suggested High School Credit Value: 1 credit.
Suggested Grade Level: 8th grade level and up.
Early Registration Tuition (ends 6/12): $475 $525 for HSLDA Members/$525 $575 for non-members. 

Description: In Foundations in Writing, students learn the basics of English grammar and composition, while learning how to analyze short literary works. This course is designed for students in 8th or 9th grade and prepares students for English 1.
Watch a short introduction from Course Developer Melissa Barnes.
Watch a sample clip of an Academy live class session. 

Foundations in Writing — Live Online Class Session Schedule,
August 27, 2018 
 April 26, 2019

Class Section

Weekly Meeting Time


Section 1 Tuesdays, 11:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m. Eastern

Mrs. Linda Davidson

Section 2 Mondays, 12:00–1:30 p.m. Eastern

Mrs. Monica Bowman

Section 3 Wednesdays, 12:00–1:30 p.m. Eastern

Mrs. Julia Rich

Section 4 Mondays, 10:00 - 11:30 a.m. Eastern

Mrs. Charmayne Rush

Section 5 Wednesdays, 10:00 - 11:30 a.m. Eastern

Mrs. Charmayne Rush

Section 6 Tuesdays, 1:00–2:30 p.m. Eastern

Mrs. Brittellen Luciano

Additional class times will be added as they become available for registration. If you have questions, please call 540-338-8290 or email academy@hslda.org.

Frequently Asked Questions
about Foundations in Writing


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  • What topics will I learn about in Foundations in Writing?

    Students in this course will learn to write for a variety of purposes: to reflect, inform, explain, evaluate, judge, inquire, analyze, interpret, and take a stand. Students will improve the mechanics in their writing through a formal study of English grammar.  

    Students will approach the literature they read from a biblical worldview that focuses both on analyzing the author’s techniques and styles as well as responding to and applying the themes of the literature to their own life experiences.  Students in this course will engage in reading, planning, composing, revising, and editing.  They will work independently as well as collaboratively.  They will experience a variety of instructional methods including lectures with visual components, discussion forums, peer response groups, quizzes, and process writing.  

    Students who successfully complete this course will:

    • Write effectively for a variety of purposes.
    • Understand English grammar and mechanics.
    • Edit their own and others’ writing.
    • Read and respond to literature from a Biblical worldview.
    • Recognize and analyze basic literary elements.
    • Expand their vocabulary through studying words in context of their reading.

    This course is meant to provide students with a solid foundation in writing, grammar, and literature study upon which they can build in subsequent high school English courses.

  • How much homework is in Foundations in Writing?

    We estimate that the course workload will take 5-10 hours per week.

    During a typical week in this course, students will complete the following coursework:

    • 60–90 minutes of live class instruction
    • Video lecture (5-10 minutes)
    • 4-10 pages of grammar exercises (self- or parent-graded)
    • ~40-50 pages of reading (guided by questions)
    • Discussion forum
    • Weekly grammar test (peer- or parent-graded)
    • Weekly writing practice (activity varies by week)

    Throughout the year, students will also complete the following tasks:

    • Reading: 4 books (8 weeks per book)
    • 6 essays (including one multi-week research paper) 
  • Am I ready to take Foundations in Writing?

    Students are expected to be able to read at least at an 8th grade level and recognize basic parts of speech.  While there is a fair amount of writing, students will start from the beginning in terms of how to approach, prepare, and produce a final product. This course is meant to provide students with a solid foundation in writing, grammar, and literature upon which they can build in subsequent high school English courses at HSLDA Online Academy.

    Please visit our Academic Readiness page for more information.

  • What books will I use in Foundations in Writing?

    The official booklist for Foundations in Writing is now available. In the offical booklist, you will find information about the editions, book descriptions, and the reasons why HSLDA Online Academy selected these books.

    Starting June 2018, you can order your books for the 2018–19 academic year through HSLDA Online Academy’s bookstore.

    By purchasing your textbooks through the Academy’s bookstore, you may be eligible for Guaranteed Book Buyback. Please view the eligibility requirements to learn more about Guaranteed Book Buyback.

  • What if I have a schedule conflict with the listed Foundations in Writing class time?

    All live class sessions are recorded for later viewing. While it is recommended that students attend each live class session, students can make arrangements to watch the recordings and receive full participation credit.

    Students should contact their instructor at the start of their course to inform the instructor of any foreseen schedule conflicts. 

  • What is a Live Online Class Session in Foundations in Writing?

    In every HSLDA Academy course, students meet weekly with their instructor and classmates in an online classroom for additional teaching, discussion, Q&A, or group activities. The class sessions are interactive and are conducted using a web meeting software with video, audio, chat, and application sharing capabilities.

    Scheduled, real-time sessions in the online classroom are not the only form of instruction available in a HSLDA Online Academy course, but are offered in addition to lectures or other instructional materials that students are able to access online at their convenience.

    When they register, students will need to select a particular class section and live class meeting time. Additional class sections may be added to the schedule at a later point in the course registration period. Registered students will be notified of any changes to the live session schedule.

  • What is the tuition for Foundations in Writing?

    Please visit our tuition and discounts page for a full summary about course costs.

    HSLDA members save $50 on yearlong high school courses!