Julia Schaer ’26 stands at a white board and points at adjectives that are written on it as a classroom of younger students looks on at her.

Stadler Center Provides National Poetry Month Workshops with Lewisburg Area Schools

April 26, 2024

by Megan Collins '24

Julia Schaer ’26 teaches a Stadler Center poetry workshop to Lewisburg Area second-grade students. Photo by Emily Paine, Marketing & Communications

Students and faculty from Bucknell University's Stadler Center for Poetry and Literary Arts have been visiting every school in the Lewisburg Area School District to offer engaging, generative poetry workshops to students in celebration of April's National Poetry Month.

A dozen Bucknell undergraduates have been leading the workshops throughout the month, accompanied by Jessica Nirvana Ram, Stadler Center publicity & outreach manager; and Bucknell Director of the Arts and Professor Joe Scapellato, English, director of the Stadler Center. The group is visiting every classroom from first grade through 12th grade.

"We trained our students to teach a poetry lesson in every grade in the school district," Scapellato says. "Now we're all helping the local students learn to write poems, and then they have the opportunity to submit them to us for a chance to read aloud at the Bucknell Hall community reading on May 1."

Rebecca Heintzelman '24, an English — creative writing, French & Francophone studies and psychology triple-major, is one of the Stadler Center students who has visited schools to teach poetry. She starts each workshop by reading a poem specifically chosen for that grade level. "Afterward, we ask the students what they thought about it, their favorite lines and specific words, and what they disliked about it," Heintzelman says. The Bucknell students then provide a prompt relating to the poem’s technique and themes so each child has the opportunity to write their own poem.

"We want the Lewisburg students to gather the skills to think like poets," she says.

The poetry tutors encourage students to describe colors using vivid adjectives and to associate those colors with emotions and objects that come to mind. The exercise is designed to help young learners begin to view the world through the eyes of a poet. They finish each workshop by passing out a survey from the Stadler Center about what each student thinks about poetry, and how each student plans to use the skills they just learned.

"The younger grades are very excited when we come into the classroom. They seem to love it and have a lot of fun," says Julia Schaer '26, psychology, who has also been a Stadler Center poetry tutor. "It is such a rewarding experience. I love receiving positive feedback from the students and seeing their enjoyment. It reassures me that their time was well spent."

Interested Lewisburg Area students are now submitting their original poems to the Stadler Center. One student from each grade level will then be selected and invited to read their poetry to an audience during the community reading, a free, public event on Wednesday, May 1, at 5 p.m. in Bucknell Hall, home to the Stadler Center.


Bucknell Hall will be the location for a free, public community reading of select poems by Lewisburg Area students May 1. Photo by Emily Paine, Marketing & Communications

The Stadler Center seeks to foster an appreciation for the diversity and richness of contemporary poetry and other literary arts in the Lewisburg Area students. The rationale behind this project is that by introducing and teaching poetry to students at an early age, they are more likely to continue engaging with it throughout their educational journey.

"Our goal is to get poetry into the community, and this feels like a concrete way to do that," says Ram. "All of the teachers we've been working with have been enthusiastic and on board."

"My favorite part is watching the students who really connect with the poetry and are enthusiastic about it," Heintzelman says. She loves playing a role in helping students to start thiking in a poetic way.

Ram and Scapellato would like to make the Stadler Center's National Poetry Month Project with Lewisburg Area schools an annual event in hopes of inspiring future young poets.