Such a great experience teaching with CalPoets! I have been actively teaching poetry with them for the past four years.
CPitS' wonderful mission is to provide students across California with access to the expressive world of poetry and the arts. Nothing like hearing an elementary student exclaim, "This is the first poem I've written!" Inspired lessons delivered by creative and accomplished poet teachers. Lessons designed to dovetail with curriculum and the 4 C's of communication, creativity, collaboration, and critical thinking.
From private schools to juvenile halls, I've seen poetry unleash creativity, empower students through language, and welcome them into the world culture. CPITS provides this gift, sparks creativity and helps students overcome emotional, physical and intellectual boundaries.
I have had Poets in the School poets come to my English classes in the spring for years. It is a wonderful addition to my poetry project that I do in the fall. Now my students get a chance to focus on poetry twice a year. We also use ideas from the visiting poets throughout the school year.
Mendocino Community High School
Anne Morningstar, 6th grade teacher at Cabrillo Middle School in Ventura wrote in her evaluation of
the CPITS workshop: "Thank you for another wonderful poetic experience. I just loved watching you float around my room loving all the words and images and sounds. The students so responded to your delight in them – they wanted to give, give, give to you. You were a great example to me."
Now celebrating its 50th year of youth poetry instruction, California Poets in the Schools is a potent and wide reaching artist in residency organization. As a poet teacher with CPITS since 2000, I can honestly say that my life has been enhanced by the doors that have been opened as a result of my involvement with CPITS. I have worked with hundreds of young writers, organized high school poetry slams, created county and state wide anthologies of student work, and bonded with an amazing group of poets--many of whom are also poet teachers with CPITS. California is lucky to have an organization like CPITS keeping the love of the word alive!
I have been a poet in the schools with CPITS for 30 years. When I first started I was only going to teach one year. When I saw how poetry increased children's self-esteem, and how they loved learning to use language in an exciting way, I continued on and on. I also learned so much from my fellow poet teachers at their annual conferences with workshops and exchanges of lesson plans, and idea. CPITS is instrumental in developing the social-emotional learning of every child, in my experience.
California Poets in the Schools is the only nonprofit I have ever had experience with that is entirely focused on serving the population it serves. It brings together the most sophisticated, dedicated, and creative teachers and staff imaginable to provide superior poetry classes for children, youth, and adults to mine the depths of their creativity and literary skills. Its grassroots connection with the population it serves speaks volumes about its dedication to its mission.
I have worked in my rural Northern California area of Lake County as a poet teacher afflilitated with CPITS for over a decade in various capacities, as a poet in residence at elementary schools, as a presenter at literacy conferences, and most recently, as a coach for high school students competing in the National Endowment for the Arts initiative POETRY OUT LOUD. Co-sponsered by the California Arts Council, and partnering with CPITS, this program is free, and provides students with an opportunity to engage in the memorization of classic and contemporary poems, gain public speaking skills, and broaden their understanding of our vast literary heritage and its power to express profound thoughts and emotions through oral recitation. I am amazed, year after year, how teens embrace the challenge of standing in front of their peers and becoming more vulnerable than the usual classroom experience typically allows, by interpreting great poetry. In a time when federal funds for the arts have been severely cut back, I am profoundly grateful for the mission of CPITS to continue to touch the hearts and imaginations of children of all ages through their dedication to poetry for 50 years.
California Poets in the Schools changed my life forever, and helps me change the lives of students on a daily basis as I reach as many as one thousand per year, including in court and community schools. I joined in 1998 as a side project while I was figuring things out; now I am area coordinator of Humboldt, Del Norte and Trinity counties. CPITS has allowed me to stay professionally immersed in poetry, while it's possible that poetry otherwise could have fallen out of my life. Students, teachers, administrators, and parents regularly thank me for the work that CPITS does.
California Poets in the Schools Tend the Human ROOTS in a STEM-Crazed World
In our high-tech Brave New World where students are pressed to immerse themselves in left-brained science, math, engineering, and technology in order to "compete" in the global race, poetry is easily dismissed. It seems the perfect corner to cut in the classroom!
But my experience as a visual artist, amateur musician, award-winning poet, and teacher of poetry to all ages (Syracuse University, College of Marin, public & private schools,) has shown me what poetry teaches better than any other discipline: a creative personal vision based on a profound sense of interconnectedness. Poetry feeds the roots of the human being, nourishing the heart-based wisdom that all children bring into the world.
Perhaps more than any other art form, poetry teaches an appreciation of paradox. It embraces the most quirky uniqueness along with our most common denominators. Rather than competition, its spirit is inclusiveness and celebration.
Just this week, my third-grade class of mostly first-generation bi-lingual students wrote Dia de los Muertos poems for lost family members. As usual, some of the most reluctant writers in the class wrote breath-taking poems: "My grandfather plays dominoes in my heart. He sleeps in the cocoon of a butterfly, wishing he could be alive again." "My baby sister lives in my heart. I hear the sound of wind blowing through the house."
Nothing says it better than the children's poems themselves.
California Poets in the Schools reaches the lives of thousands of young people every year, opening up their imaginations and getting them to write and feel great about it.
I have been a board member of California Poets in the Schools for over four years. The dedication of the members of the board during this time has been inspiring. I have witnessed much selflessness and imagination on the part of the board. I have attended annual symposia where poet teachers come together from throughout the state to reconnect, exchange lesson plans and techniques, take writing and teaching classes and gain renewed inspiration to last a whole school year. I have acted as Los Angeles area coordinator for the poet teachers of this county, met with and encouraged poet teachers, found teaching opportunities for them and have engaged in outreach activities with for-profit and non-profit organizations alike. I have participated in over forty classroom workshops as an observer and I have seen the benefit of our writing program with high school students, how they have accessed their imaginations, shared and inspired fellow students to engage sometimes difficult topics through poetry.
I have been involved with California Poets in the Schools since the year 2000. More recently, I have had the honor of serving on the Board. It has been a wonderful experience to work with poets from around the State of CA who are committed to bringing their love of language and poetry to students. CPITS is an organization that is full of creative and intelligent souls who bring the magic of poetry to schools, hospitals, prisons, and community centers. It is our mission to give students the opportunity to express themselves in transformative ways.
Parents tell me things like, "Poetry lessons were the best part of my son's 5th grade experience." Students say things like, "What surprised me about poetry is that not that many people know about it - but it's so good." Classroom teachers have said things like, "How to rate my CPITS experience? What's the scale? 1 - 1,000? Then it would be 1,000. 1 - 1,000,000? Then it would be one million."
Kindergarteners write things like, "Trees teach poetry to the teachers, and teachers teach it to the kids."
This organization opens eyes and changes lives.
California Poets In The Schools is the only in-school program in California that empowers the particular genius of children writing poetry. Based on the grassroots community service of poets in every county, CPITS has been carrying the message of the imaginative word to young people for half a century. Bring a poet to your school and make a fundamental change in your kids' creative environment! Huzzah!
California Poets in the Schools, (CPitS), is a wonderful organization. It's been around for 50 years and teaches about 25,000 students a year. The concept is simple: send poets into schools to teach students to use their imaginations and write their own poetry. Now, this may not sound as important as the work that some nonprofits do but it is actually crucial work. The poetry reaches the students on so many levels; the students are given one of the few opportunities they get to explore and express their own feelings; the poets act as artists in residence, modeling for the students the life of an artist; the class dynamic is often turned on its head as the quiet or 'bad' kids excel at poetry and find respect from their peers; the poetry teaches important language skills; and last but not least, poets find an income.
I have been involved with CPitS for many years and have worn many hats...board member, president of the board, a teacher, a volunteer, a donor and an advisory council member.
Founded in 1964, California Poets in the Schools is one of the largest literary artists-in-residence programs in the nation. We encourage students throughout California to recognize and celebrate their creativity, intuition, and intellectual curiosity through the creative poetry writing process. We provide students with a multicultural community of published poets, specially trained to bring their experience and love for their craft into the classroom. CPITS serves 25,000 students annually in hundreds of public and private schools, juvenile halls, after-school programs, hospitals, and other community settings. We also partner with the California Arts Council to broadcast the Poetry Out Loud recitation program to high schools and audiences throughout the state.
Check them out at www.cpits.org.