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In Appreciation of Teachers: Share a poem

Share a poem about a teacher who inspired you.
Jess Eng
/
NPR
Share a poem about a teacher who inspired you.

As the school year draws to a close, is there a teacher who has inspired you?

NPR's poet in residence Kwame Alexander says his mother was his first teacher. He learned from her that "teachers are a guiding hand on our shoulders, and long after we graduate from their classrooms, the good ones — we still feel their touch." He fondly remembers a teacher who dared him to read 100 books in first grade, and when he did, she bought him a t-shirt that showed off his achievement.

For Morning Edition host Rachel Martin, it was a high school teacher who taught her about courage and compassion.

Now we want to hear from you about a teacher who has impacted you in ways big or small.

Send us your appreciation as a poem. It can be any form — a haiku, a free verse, an epistolary, but should start with the words "Teachers make..."

As an example, Alexander cites the words of teacher, author and slam poet Taylor Mali, who responded this way when asked to defend the teaching profession:

"You want to know what I make? I make kids wonder,

I make them question.

I make them criticize.

I make them apologize and mean it.

I make them write.

I make them read, read, read.

I make them spell definitely beautiful, definitely beautiful, definitely beautiful

over and over and over again until they will never misspell

either one of those words again.

I make them show all their work in math

and hide it on their final drafts in English.

I make them understand that if you've got this,

then you follow this,

and if someone ever tries to judge you

by what you make, you give them this.

Here, let me break it down for you, so you know what I say is true:

Teachers make a goddamn difference!"

(Excerpt from Taylor Mali's "What Teachers Make." What Learning Leaves. Newtown, CT: Hanover Press, 2002)

Share your poem through the form below. Then Alexander will take lines from some of your pieces and create a community crowdsourced poem that will be read on-air and published online, where contributors will be credited.

By providing your Submission to us, you agree that you have read, understand and accept the following terms in relation to the content and information (your "Submission") you are providing to National Public Radio ("NPR," "us" or "our"):

You are submitting content pursuant to a callout by Morning Edition related to a segment with Kwame Alexander wherein he creates unique poetry based on listener submissions. You understand that you are submitting content for the purpose of having Kwame use that content to create a new poem or poems ("Poem") with the material you submit. You must be over the age of 18 to submit material.

You will retain copyright in your Submission, but agree that NPR and/or Kwame Alexander may edit, modify, use, excerpt, publish, adapt or otherwise make derivative works from your Submission and use your Submission or derivative works in whole or in part in any media or format and/or use the Submission or Poem for journalistic and/or promotional purposes generally, and may allow others to do so. You understand that the Poem created by Kwame Alexander will be a new creative work and may be distributed through NPR's programs (or other media), and the Poem and programs can be separately subject to copyright protection. Your Submission does not plagiarize or otherwise infringe any third-party copyright, moral rights or any other intellectual property rights or similar rights. You have not copied any part of your Submission from another source. If your Submission is selected for inclusion in the Poem, you will be acknowledged in a list of contributors on NPR's website or otherwise receive appropriate credit, but failure to do so shall not be deemed a breach of your rights.

Your submission will be governed by our general Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. As the Privacy Policy says, we want you to be aware that there may be circumstances in which the exemptions provided under law for journalistic activities or freedom of expression may override privacy rights you might otherwise have.

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