In March of 2020, I said, “See you on Monday” to my students on what I believed to be an ordinary Friday, albeit a Friday the 13th. That would be the last day I would see them for months. There was a period of uncertainty as everyone grappled with our new reality. The unadulterated meaning of pandemic, hit fast and hard.
Teacher Appreciation Week is one of my favorite times of the school year! Honoring the educators who spend countless hours creating lesson plans, building authentic relationships, and welcoming students into the learning space – whether it be in-person, online, or both – has been such a joy. I think back to my time growing up and fondly remember those who influenced me with their encouraging words, supportive nature, and praise of my efforts. My teachers, Ms. Pendergast, Mrs. Dixon, and Mr. Anderson were just three of many educators that left a lasting impression by showing me how much effort matters. I am grateful to them and to have this incredible opportunity to honor the efforts made by our nation’s teachers.
By: Jahnee S.
I was 8 years old when I first experienced homelessness. Homelessness then became a struggle that my family and I couldn’t escape. I experienced standing in the snow, hoping my family and I had a place to sleep on a church floor; how packed and unsanitary emergency shelters are, as I got lice within two days of staying there; how “The Florida Project” brought me flashbacks to the many months my family lived in motels, and how I viewed peers with “the basic necessities” with such envy. Constantly moving and being disappointed led me to become extremely detached and avoid relationships of any kind out of fear of abandonment. Eight years later, at 16 years old, I was still experiencing homelessness. Though homelessness was not new to me, this experience as a 16-year-old was the most difficult because I was on my own without a family.
Plant the seeds of poetry and help your kids grow a love of rhymes, sonnets, ballads, and all forms of poetry. Inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in 1996, National Poetry Month is now held every April, when schools, publishers, libraries, booksellers, and poets throughout the United States celebrate poetry and its vital place in American culture. This year marks the 25th anniversary of this annual celebration.
It’s easy to help kids of any age become aware of or deepen their appreciation of this literary art form. Memorize a favorite poem, organize a virtual poetry reading for your friends, or visit a poetry landmark such as a poet’s former residence or a place of inspiration to poets like the Brooklyn Bridge.
For Teens and Older Children
Introducing your child to poetry can start at any age! Here are a few activities and resources to help your teen or older children become more familiar with poetry.
Visit the Library of Congress’s Poetry 180 site: Designed for high school student to hear or read a poem every day of the school year, this is a great way to engage and encourage students to appreciate poetry. Encourage your teens to read poems aloud to you or each other. Ask what they did or didn’t like about a poem you read together.
Focus on specific themed-based poetry: The Library of Congress has materials devoted to certain themes, including immigration and migration, work and industry, and social change. Kids can sample poems from different themes and reflect on which theme interests them the most and why.
Start a poetry notebook: Encourage students to write poems of their own in different styles of poetry: rhymes, ballads, limericks, haikus, sonnets, or odes.
Go on a global exploration: EDSITEment explores poetry across the world in different cultures and lists various lessons and resources on poetry.
Go beyond Earth’s atmosphere to the stars: NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has an entire activity, Planetary Poetry, to help students learn about and understand poetry using STEM and NASA resources.
For Younger Children
It’s never too early to introduce your baby, preschooler, or younger child to poetry. Make it a playful learning experience. Get ideas for celebrating poetry with younger children from the following resources.
Enjoy nursery rhymes together: Babies, toddlers, preschoolers, and early readers can appreciate nursery rhymes read aloud or recited to them. Toddlers, preschoolers, and Kindergarteners also can enjoy repeating a simple rhyme and practicing memorizing it. Try talking about rhyme and rhythm—beat out a rhythm to a poem on a toy drum or a drum made from recycled materials. Draw pictures of favorite nursery rhyme scenes.
Explore nature on a science and poetry walk and learn about haiku: Spring is a great time to investigate the wonders of your backyard, neighborhood parks, or a nearby state or national park. Then try some haiku, which typically focuses on the natural world.
Pick up a book of children’s poems: Visit your local public or school library and check out books of children’s poems. During National Poetry Month, the librarians may set up a special display to showcase a selection of their favorite poetry books. At home read the poems aloud to your kids. Early readers might be able to read the poems or parts of the poems aloud to you.
Be a poet: Ask your child to make up a poem of his or her own or some rhyming lines. Children who can write may write it out themselves. For younger children, write it down for them—capture their original creations and record the date. Invite them to illustrate their poems, too.
This Sunday afternoon, the world will watch the 55th Super Bowl take place in Tampa Bay. While these football professionals play the last game of their season, high school coaches around the country are preparing for their next. Many of these coaches are tasked with balancing responsibilities as leaders on the field and as educators in the classroom. Among them is Chris Davidson of Ridge Community High School, about an hour outside of Tampa Bay .