Educators from Henry County and Martinsville City Public Schools participated in the free professional development workshop Poetry will Hold Us Up, July 19 - 20, 2022 at Piedmont Arts.
Piedmont Arts Director of Programs Sarah Short arranged the program with support from Casey Polczynski, PhD, of Virginia Commission for the Arts (VCA). Casey and the VCA organize participation for the state in Poetry Out Loud, a national youth poetry reading competition held annually.
In an effort to increase participation in Poetry Out Loud, and inspire a passion for poetry, Short and Polczynski brought together Poetry Society of Virginia's Angela Dribben, vice president of Region 2, and Regie Cabico, Poetry Out Loud instructor for Virginia Commission for the Arts, to lead this two-part series focused on reinvigorating middle and high school students with poetry. This professional development included a generative writing workshop incorporating improvisation and techniques for students to unleash their poetic voices on the page. Educators learned techniques that help make poetry more accessible to students, particularly those who may have language barriers, activities that make poetry visual and exciting, and even how to host their own poetry slam in their classroom or school.
Short says poetry is a versatile art form that goes far beyond the familiar teachings of poets like Henry David Thoreau or Edgar Allan Poe.
"Poetry can be visual, it can be healing, and it can be completely individual. We hoped this program would bring energy into poetry instruction and inspire educators to bring back the fun.”
This workshop was free for educators thanks to funding from the Virginia Commission for the Arts, and provided continuing education points for teacher licensure. “Based on the feedback from attendees, we hope to be able to offer more professional developments at Piedmont Arts in the future to continue to support educators and students in Martinsville and Henry County Schools, and boost students’ reading and writing skills.”
This workshop for educators will be followed up with in-school programming coordinated by Piedmont Arts, utilizing VCA teaching artists for students in Martinsville and Henry County High Schools and Middle Schools this fall to further support teachers and students.
Educator feedback about the workshop:
“Fabulous! This workshop is one that should be repeated. Regie and Angie perfectly complemented each other for an amazing experience.”
“Engaging, safe activities to bring students in an often daunting genre.”
“It is possible to have lots of fun with poetry. There are so many ways to help students to write.”
“Kids need to be able to play with words like this before they can craft effective persuasive essays.”