May 23, 2018 - Michael Salinger

Jakarta Intercultural School

We’re not going to let something like the library burning down slow us up.


This was Sara and my fourth trip to Jakarta Intercultural School. If three times is a charm – four times is the magic summoned. These repeated visits allow us to really become friend with the folks we are working with and one of our best international compatriots is Kate the middle school librarian. Yes – her library did burn down a couple of days before we arrived but that didn’t incinerate the hospitality and enthusiasm with which we were received.

Kate juggled insurance, staff, ordering of new books, chronicling of lost books, meeting after meeting and a thousand other details while still attending to our visit. She is a superhero.


We were tickled to se that the middle school English dept. had blown up our Poetry Editing Checklist into a poster for all their rooms! Download yours here.

JIS is an amazing school – vibrant, green, and energetic.  We worked with the middle school this time – grades 6 thru 8 during our two-week residence. The great thing about these extended stays is that we get multiple opportunities to work with students. It’s that second and third face to face that really makes the difference – the kids know you a bit and we can really get down to some good writing, including revision.


Filling in an infomercial GO-Sheet.

Seventh grade we worked on rhyme and personification – eight we explored and wrote extended metaphor – and 6th we wrote infomercials selling the books we were studying. The visit culminated with students performing their work in front of the whole middle school at morning assembly. Conquering the number one fear of mankind – public speaking – these kids showed they had what it takes to speak with conviction! (While I was emceeing their reading the ELA team leader Jennifer pulled me aside saying, “Could you bring _____ up to the stage next, it looks like he might throw up.” I called the student up next and he shook a little while reciting his work, but he got through it – a real character building moment – facing up to a real fear but standing up and speaking with conviction.


Adding poetic elements to our revisions.

That seems to be a hallmark of the school – resilience and risk taking.


We had a full classroom of teachers show up on a Saturday morning to attend a PD session based on our new book From Striving to Thriving – Strategies to Jump Start Writing. We presented a session to parents, we made friends with the barista in the cafeteria, laughed a lot at lunches and in class with the middle school English team – Scott, Kelly, Sherri, Jenn, Anna and Peter we also had some substantive chats about curriculum with the middle school principal Christophe


At our culminating event on the Bali stage.

So JIS – we can’t wait to come back! If you can take a library fire with such aplomb – we’re pretty sure you can survive a 5th visit from a couple crackpot poets from Cleveland, Ohio.

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“Sara and Michael bring infectious energy and joy leavened with deep knowledge of best practices in literacy to their work with children and teachers.” Ellin Keene – Author of Mosaic of Thought and The Teacher You Want to Be
“Sara and Michael bring magic, and a contagious love of words to both students and teachers alike!” Georgia Heard - Author of Awakening the Heart: Exploring Poetry in Elementary and Middle School More testimonials...