EUGENE, Ore. (AP) - Jacob Fitch still remembers it clearly, even three years later.
A couple of classmates in fourth grade told him no one would ever love him because, they said, he was ugly.
“No one will ever love me, huh?” Jacob, now a seventh-grader at Madison Middle School, said confidently while he read his poem, “Faces,” to a group of students, parents and school staff during a poetry reading session:
What about my family and friends? I say.
They don’t know what to say back.
Those girls were like bullies
Jacob said he wasn’t too keen on writing until a year ago, when he took a two-week poetry workshop offered to all sixth-graders at his middle school off River Road.
The writing tools he learned from poet and teacher Sita Stulberg allowed him to articulate what he’s learned since that moment in fourth grade so he could share it with others, he said.
Like Jacob, students learn how to write about memories, goals and fears, or tough, emotional experiences, during Stulberg’s classes. One student wrote about watching her grandpa die of lung cancer, while another described welcoming her dad home after he’d been deployed for a year in Iraq.
Stulberg, an unconventional teacher with spirally black hair who loves wolves and cameo pendants, wants to give children a voice through poetry. She doesn’t want the art form to be intimidating or inaccessible.
“It doesn’t have to be in archaic language,” she said.
She teaches students by having them read poems written by previous students, or from contemporary poets such as Maya Angelou and Margaret Atwood.