February 24, 2020 - Michael Salinger


OH – IO!


clockwise: me, Stephanie, Deija, Dan, Mary and Sara

Sara and I try to make the Ohio Council of Teachers of English language Arts (OCTELA) whenever we can. We’ve probably attended a just under a dozen or so times the last 20 years – international travel often takes us far away but this year we were able to make it.

I wanted to attend especially this year because of my association with the incredible organization 12 Literary Arts. This group is bringing poetry, justice and activism into schools across Greater Cleveland using poetry and social awareness and i wanted to introduce their great work to more Ohio teachers.

So the crew at OCTELA embraced us and bent over backwards to be sure we could attend. Our team from 12 led an inspirational workshop titled: Teachers and Students as Agents of Inquiry, where they walked the attendees through a step by step process guiding us on the creation of safe and brave spaces in our classrooms. Executive Director, Dan Kontar along with staff members, Stephanie Ginese, Mary Barret and Deija Vison really did the 216 proud.


Stephanie and Dan telling folks what’s up.

Sara and I presented on our usual fare of writing across the curriculum via essential elements in an early Saturday morning session to a packed room.

The highlight for me though (outside the pride I had for the 12 crew) was the keynote by “The Poet X” author Elizabeth Acevedo. Having been a classroom teacher herself, Acevedo connected as if via an umbilical cord with her audience nourishing them with inspiration and hard truths at the same time. Her presentation was honed and respectful but never deferential. This woman is the real deal and she cares about teachers and kids.


Teachers doing a little bit of smart phone research before writing in our session.

So as we drove past Grandpa’s Cheese barn on our way back to the north coast – Sara and I reflected on what a great experience this conference was and what a great resource it is to educators in the state. We’ve already blocked out the dates for next year.


Thank you OCTELA for all you do!

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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...