Class of 2017 Year of Service

Annie Castillo


Annie focused on incorporating poetry into educational settings for her Community Service Project. She conducted workshops in schools and libraries, visited student-led readings, and developed a beginner’s guide to poetry for middle school students. The curriculum she formulated will be shared widely, both with the National Student Poets Program, and over Annie’s social media platforms in April of 2019, which is National Poetry Month. This curriculum—tentatively named Poetry Beyond—offers 22 lessons, modeled to provide a lesson for every school day in April. Each lesson is 20 minutes, and consists of 5 minutes of reading a selected poem, 5 minutes of discussing guided questions with peers or family members in response to the poem, and 10 minutes of writing a poem inspired by the lesson. By the end of the month, the student will have spent 440 minutes delving into the craft of poetry in a quick, accessible, and exciting way.

Kinsale Hueston


For her Community Service Project, Kinsale held a series of workshops from February through April of 2018 at the historic Sherman Indian School in Riverside, CA, which culminated in a poetry slam to celebrate National Poetry Month. Kinsale began her project with a reading for Sherman high school students, followed by weekly workshops centered on the theme “Where I Come From.” Students explored work by contemporary Native poets and created a mini-anthology of new poems to identify the places and people they called “home.” The workshops additionally served as safe spaces for students to explore their own identities and lives, and allowed them to confront the history of Sherman Indian School, the first Native boarding school founded to forcibly “assimilate” Native children into mainstream society in California. The project concluded with the reinstatement of Sherman’s annual poetry slam and performances by the students, as well as the creation of a chapbook of the students’ work, Where I’m From: Poems from Sherman Indian School, that Kinsale compiled and published.

Ben Lee


For his Community Service Project, Ben served as the poet-in-residence at LearningWorks in Minneapolis, MN. Throughout the school year, he taught middle-school students poetry, performance, and literature; observed teachers in their own classrooms; and participated in faculty development. Over the summer, Ben then taught a course on modern American poetry, including a focus on poets from Minnesota and around the Midwest. As a final project, Ben’s students contributed an original poem to a class chapbook and their work on their community, called “poetree.” His work also integrated activities relating to poetry and performance into the core curriculum of all literature classes at LearningWorks.

Juliet Lubwama


Partnering with Chester County Hospital, Juliet hosted five poetry workshops over the span of four weeks with Chester County Hospital volunteers. Together, they wrote “healing haikus” for hospital visitors. At a sixth meet up, Juliet and fellow volunteers hung the poems around the hospital and recited poetry to any patients that welcomed it. Approximately 50 people total came to her workshops, and many are now reading the poems around the hospital. Juliet also hosted three poetry workshops with a total of 40 young children in her community at St. Agnes Day Care. Most of them were Mexican and Puerto Rican immigrants or children of immigrants, and most were either bilingual or mostly Spanish speaking. In these workshops, Juliet introduced her young students to Mexican poets such as Juan Felipe Herrera and Jorge H. Aigla, giving them their poems in both Spanish and English. Then, they wrote poems inspired by a place where they feel at home.

Camila Sanmiguel


As part of her Community Service Project, Camila held a workshop on bibliotherapy and poetry therapy with Texas attorneys and social workers who interview detained immigrant children. The workshop targeted immigrant and refugee children that had been through trauma in order to promote psychological healing through poetry using tactical, visual art and a variety of migrant poetry as tools to enable healing and expression. She also held a workshop with Congolese and Somalian refugees at the Refugee Services of Texas in Dallas, introducing poetry-writing to youths using migrant poetry and art surrounding home and belonging. She partnered with multiple organizations, including The Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights in San Antonio, TX, and Refugee Services of Texas in Dallas, TX.