The Robertson’s Power of Poetry event convened educators, poets, and poetry lovers to discuss an urgent issue that gets little attention: the dwindling presence of poetry in schools nationwide.
SA Union Square is buzzing as performers run through a tech rehearsal for the annual Performing Arts Festival. The festival has been in the works since the fall, with schools from across the network refining dance, chorus, band, theater, and poetry pieces in hopes that they will be included in the evening’s program. All in all, 363 scholars from 16 schools were selected to perform in the event on February 20 — a sold-out success.
This is Allison Bravo’s second year teaching fifth grade, and once again, teaching The Watsons Go to Birmingham is a highlight. This is the first novel scholars read and study together as middle schoolers, and it is an introduction to the kind of literary discussion and analysis they will do throughout middle and high school.
When Nolan McDaniel and Malik Sahabi first unveiled their poem — a thought-provoking spoken-word piece that they coauthored — it was in front of an auditorium packed with scholars, teachers, and families. They electrified their listeners, who snapped their fingers and cheered with enthusiasm at what turned out to be one of the highlights of the Success Academy Harlem Central Poetry Slam. Since then, the entire school has been talking about “Black Boy, White Man”.
In 2016, Dr. Elisa New learned about Success Academy Charter Schools. She had the opportunity to collaborate with Success through her organization, Poetry in America, which offers online courses on poetry for the general public and for English and Social Studies teachers. Lessons filmed in Success Academy classrooms now anchor key sections of her professional development courses.