By Gillian Schneider, a teacher at Neuqua Valley High School and the recipient of the 2016 Penguin Random House Maya Angelou Teacher Award for Poetry.

maya angelouSitting at the NCTE secondary luncheon in November 2015, I found an application for the Penguin Random House Literacy Awards, including the Maya Angelou Poetry Award. I did not have a concrete idea of what I might propose, but by spring, I decided that I would make every effort to come up with something to support poetry awareness. I asked colleagues to read my application and suggest changes, and I asked students to help me with letters of support and haiku. The grant idea for “So You Want Me to Love Poetry? YES!” began as an appeal to students to stop saying “No” to poetry and start saying “Yes!” Once I submitted all of the required elements, I distracted myself. (more…)

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Winners Random House Writing 2016The Penguin Random House Creative Writing Awards, which annually present $112,000 in scholarships to fifty-six New York City public high school seniors for original poetry, fiction & drama, memoir, graphic novel, and spoken word poetry compositions, were held on June 7. Since 1994, more than two million dollars have been awarded to students and their schools by Random House, and now Penguin Random House, through this awards competition. In this twenty-third year for the competition, more than 1,300 entries were received from a number of diverse public high schools throughout the city’s five boroughs. (more…)

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“Here on the pulse of this new day.
You may have the grace to look up and out
And into your sister’s eyes,
And into your brother’s face,
Your country,
And say simply
Very simply
With hope –
Good Morning.”
– Maya Angelou, from “On the Pulse of Morning”

September 12th, 2014, The Riverside Church, New York

On a nearly perfect late summer day in Morningside Heights there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, but there were plenty of rainbows beneath the domed ceiling of The Riverside Church to celebrate the life of Dr. Maya Angelou. This magnificent Church, with its rich history and commitment to justice, with its limestone pillars and Flemish stained glass, was filled with joy – and some great hats – as The Brown Sisters from Portland Oregon opened the program with an amazing “Amazing Grace.” (more…)

9780345514400North Bergen (NJ) High School teacher Laurie Troiano recently taught Maya Angelou’s beloved I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings to her Junior Honors class–they finished the book on the same day that Dr. Angelou passed away.  Read the note that Ms. Troiano sent us below, which describes the impact that Dr. Angelou’s classic had on her students:

“There is nothing better than getting books in the mail. Thank you for the copy and guide of Caged Bird. I had a memorable moment this year with my North Bergen High School Junior Honors class. I decided to read this book with them and I haven’t taught it in years. My students knew nothing about her and even less about being black and poor in the South, as they are mostly from immigrant families. The day we finished the book was the day she died. The students all came running to me to tell me. We talked about her and they asked if we could have a moment of silence. The day we took the test, some students cried, and all wrote with such intensity and love.

I will always remember this moment and I wanted to share it with you and say thank you for remembering teachers.”