From CAA to FWP

Christine Hoffman Becomes Parker’s New English Teacher


Photo credit: Christine Hoffman

Hoffman with her husband, Matt, and sons, Henry and James. Photo courtesy of Christine Hoffman.

This year, Christine Hoffman joined Parker’s English department from The Chicago Academy for the Arts, where she taught for five years. She will be teaching American Literature, Reading And Writing Across The Genres, Coming of Age, and Women’s Literature.

  Hoffman attended University of Illinois Chicago and graduated in 2005. Hoffman was originally an accounting major before switching to the Teaching of English program and then a double major in English and philosophy. She chose these majors because of  the greater focus on comparative literature and different genres. 

Hoffman  also has a Masters of the Arts in Literature from Northwestern University and her teaching certification. “I loved that route so much because it allowed me to explore the content area and then later go back and work more towards the pedagogical,” Hoffman said. “I think Parker aligns so well with that because it’s a constant kind of exploration of contemporary ideas and new ideas about literature and new ways to write and new ways to think and new ways to be creative.”

Hoffman has taught at two schools before Parker. “I’ve always taught high school, always taught literature, so I’ll be teaching the same age group at Parker, which I’m looking forward to,” she said. 

At The Academy, Hoffman created a course on women’s literature. She will be teaching a version of the class during the second semester at Parker. Her queer theory course was based off of discussions about gender and sexuality in her women’s literature class. Hoffman also created a post-colonial literature class which focused on writing from British, Indian, and African writers. Before leaving The Academy, she had started to work on a world literature course. 

To create her courses, Hoffman  read “as much as” she could and looked at college syllabi. Then, she grouped themes and connected topics to create a “holistic” course. 

Hoffman decided to switch to Parker because of its mission. ”I’m also very much invested in Parker’s idea of the way in which what happens inside of the classroom has to have meaning outside of the classroom as well,” Hoffman said. “What we do in the classroom is not limited to the classroom, but all of it is in service to understanding how we can be a part of the world. I think that’s very powerful and important, and I wanted to be a part of that.” She is excited for Morning Ex and advisory.

Deciding to leave The Academy was “a tough decision” since she knows most of the students well. “They are phenomenal,” Hoffman said. “They’re very interesting people and creative people which made for just incredible English classes.”

Last summer, she helped students at The Academy begin their student run publication, which she also facilitated and advised. “It was a great way to get students to come together, obviously on Zoom, but still come together and it bridged the four school years,” Hoffman said. “It was a great way to bring community.”

A book that impacted Hoffman is Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness.” “I think it affects me deeply because of the way it was written. Conrad’s use of abstractions and impressionist-type writing was revolutionary, and it forces the reader to question what happens in the novel, which illustrates the narrator and reader’s murky grasp on truth and reality,” Hoffman said. She has also been reading Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, whose book she will be teaching this year as well as works by James Baldwin. 

Hoffman wants students to know that she is “serious about reading literature seriously” and the “power of writing.” She has her students write frequently to help understand the texts and themselves. “My goal always is to help students find the beauty and the relevancy and what we read, and I take that very seriously.”

While at The Academy, Hoffman worked with new Head of the Upper School Chris Arnold for four years. At The Academy, Hoffman was a “dream of a teacher,” according to Arnold. Arnold did not know they would be working together at Parker, but he is excited that they will be. “She connected well with all of her students, her classes were engaging, and she was an active member of the community,” Arnold said over email. “I am excited to see her work her teacher magic here in the Parker community.”

Hoffman has always lived in Illinois. She grew up on the North Shore but travels frequently. She taught in South Africa for three months, and has visited Haiti and Korea. Her “foundation” is in Chicago, where she lives with her husband, Matt, and two sons. Her older son, Henry, is in second grade and her younger son, James, is in preschool. She also has a dog named Rolo. 

Outside of school, Hoffman does “anything my boys do.” She started playing golf with Henry and plays catch with both of her sons. She also enjoys running, baking, and outdoor activities. 

Hoffman said she is inspired by people who see different perspectives and write about them, especially her students. “People who are strong and determined always inspire me, no matter what that determination might be towards, just people who know what they want in the world, and work really hard to get it,” Hoffman said.