CONTACT: PETER ALEXANDER
300 Plaza Centre One
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0072; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: July 31, 2002
UIs Marvin Bell will teach poetry to workshop to urban educators,
America SCORES, a nationwide after-school program that combines soccer and
creative writing, will bring educators from cities across the country to the
University of Iowa campus for a specially designed workshop for writing teachers,
Internationally known for its writing programs, the UI provides an ideal
environment for the first annual America SCORES/University of Iowa Urban Teachers
Workshop. The workshop will be taught by Marvin Bell, the Iowa Poet Laureate
and the Flannery OConner Professor of Letters at the famed Iowa Writers
America SCORES is an urban youth development program serving public elementary
school children across the country. By combining soccer and poetry, America
SCORES develops teams of children who work to excel at literacy and athletics.
Working after school five days a week with their writing and soccer coaches
-- the teachers who will be participating in the Urban Teachers Workshop
-- kids in the SCORES program learn the importance of teamwork, commitment
and leadership while practicing dribbling and writing haikus.
Bell says, I have great admiration for the goals and achievements of
America SCORES. Its a program on the side of the angels, making a tangible
difference in the education of youngsters at a crucial time in their development.
The first annual America SCORES/University of Iowa Urban Teachers Workshop
will bring urban educators from public elementary schools in Boston, Chicago,
New York, San Francisco, and Washington, DC, to Iowa to benefit from the programs
in writing at the UI. The intensive, 10-day course will expose these urban
educators to new methods and materials they can use to enhance writing instruction
in their schools.
The workshop will be led Bell, assisted by teacher, writer and activist Cecile
Goding. They will give the participating teachers an opportunity to learn
how poetry can be used as a gateway to literacy for public school children.
Through a series of readings by guest authors, poetry workshops, and best-practices
sessions, the teachers will gain new tools to use in some of the nations
most challenged public schools.
For the UI, the program presents a unique way to share its writing programs
with a hard-to-reach audience, allowing even a child from Washington Heights
in New York City to benefit. Bill Decker, UI associate vice-president for
research and the universitys liaison for the program, says, By
partnering with America SCORES on this project, the University of Iowa has
a wonderful opportunity to act on its stated core values, including learning,
community and responsibility. As we assist America SCORES in achieving its
teaching, philanthropic and societal goals, we help to meet our own institutional
responsibilities to society and to the development of an inspired, educated
This impact will not stop at the teachers who are participating in the workshop.
In return for a chance to attend, teachers must take what they have learned
and share their knowledge with the other teachers in their schools. Teachers
who attend the workshop will also participate in a curriculum committee which
will work to incorporate lessons and best practices from Iowa into America
SCORES poetry curriculum, which is used by hundreds of teachers nationwide.
Based on the success of this years workshop, America SCORES and the
UI plan to expand the program to involve more teachers, with the goal of using
materials developed at the Urban Teachers Workshop to train entire school
systems on the use of poetry in the elementary school classroom. Paul Caccamo,
president of America SCORES, comments: Through America SCORES
partnership with the University of Iowa, we have found an ideal way to develop
poetry as a teaching tool. For challenged students, poetry is a wonderful
mechanism for developing a love of literacy. The University of Iowa has had
unparalleled success in teaching writing to older students. We believe the
America SCORES/University of Iowa Urban Teachers Workshop will translate
this success to the nations youngest and neediest students.
Bell, who has been called a maverick and an insider who
thinks like an outsider, is the author of 17 books of poetry and essays.
Of Bells newest collection Judith Kitchen says, Bell has redefined
poetry as it is practiced today. According to the Harvard Review, Its
tough to come away from (Nightworks) not believing that Bell has
the largest heart since Walt Whitman.
Bell has received the Lamont Award from the Academy of American Poets, the
Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Guggenheim
and National Endowment for the Arts fellowships and Senior Fulbright appointments
to Yugoslavia and Australia.
Stars Which See, Stars Which Do Not See was a finalist for the
National Book Award in 1977. In March 2000 Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack named Bell
the states first poet laureate, an appointment that we recently renewed.
Bell is a longtime member of the Writers Workshop faculty. He has also
taught at Goddard College and the Universities of Hawaii and Washington. His
former students include Rita Dove, James Tate, Jorie Graham, John Irving and
current workshop faculty member James Galvin.
Bell has been invited to read his poetry at the White House, the Guggenheim
Museum, the Folger Shakespeare Library and the Library of Congress. A graduate
of the Writers Workshop, he also holds a bachelors degree from
Alfred University and a masters degree from the University of Chicago.
The first annual Urban Teachers Workshop has been made possible through
the generous support of the UI and the Florence V. Burden Foundation.