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Ace Spectrum is about you — the ACE Learning Centers.
It’s a quick sharing of ideas, inspiration, opinions and best practices among our continuing education organizations.

Please join the conversation.

Poetry is Having an Amazing Moment, So Read, Write and Enjoy Poetry

Posted by on Apr 14, 2021 in ACE Learning Center, ACE School Report, Continuing Education | 2 comments

By Riley, ACE Poetry Contest Mascot and Alpha Public Schools Mascot, helped by Martha Sessums, even though Riley is getting better at keyboarding

Amanda Gorman recites her inaugural poem at the U.S. Capitol in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, Pool)

If I have been at the 2021 Presidential Inaugural and listened to Amanda Gorman recite her poem The Hill We Climb: An Inaugural Poem for the Country, I would have been shouting out happy arfs arfs and running around in excited circles.  What a great poem, but she has also had great success with her poetry book.

According to Martha, who reads this stuff, the first week The Hill We Climb poem book was available it sold nearly 215,000 copies of the 1.5 million copies printed by her publisher. That means that Amanda – a poet – is a best-selling author. It’s the first book of poetry to debut at No. 1 on several best seller lists, and the biggest week-one sales of any poetry book published. And she’s just 23 now – 22 when she recited the poem at the inauguration. Plus, her book has helped drive up sales for all books. In fact, book sales have skyrocketed over the same period in 2020, that not so lovely year.

So, Amanda has made history. As a poet. As a poet who has made a career writing poetry. As an inspiration for people to buy poetry and other books.

We’re doing a bark-out, as Max calls it, for Amanda. Arf, arf, arf. Bark, bark, bark. Meow, meow, meow. (Wow, Amanda even impressed Bodie, and that’s saying something ‘cause Bodie is a cat.)

She should also be an inspiration to the students writing poetry at the ACE Learning Center schools too. That poetry we write? It can take off like Amanda’s poem too. (Well, that’s a high bar. Something I’m not sure even I could jump over.) But poetry is getting more and more popular, and with the right situation could become popular. Here’s what Amanda said:

“I know that this best-seller spot comes from so many people deciding to bring my words into their lives,” Amanda told USA Today. “It makes me speechless to see poetry have such a ripple effect, and I’m excited to see more poets stand beside me on the best-seller list.”

Martha says it’s not just about selling books, but social media can be a good start with making a poem and poet popular. Try reciting your poem on Tic-Tok. Post it to your favorite social media site. Start a poetry squad that writes and shares their poetry. Write a poem for graduation and see if you can recite it for the ceremony – in-person or virtual.

As Len Loja, president of Penguin Young Readers, said, “(Amanda) is introducing the beauty and power of poetry to so many new readers. . . We are so proud and honored to be able to help share her words with readers, fans and future poets.”

The ACE Poetry Contest is just one way to enjoy poetry. Find poetry online. In books. At the library. Watch videos. Create poetry yourself. As Amanda says in her poem:

When day comes we step out of the shade,

aflame and unafraid

The new dawn blooms as we free it

For there is always light,

if only we’re brave enough to see it

If only we’re brave enough to be it


Arf. Riley here. Thinking about writing my next poem.

Arf, arf. Be brave poets. Step out of the shade and into the poetry light. Write poems that come from your heart and your experiences. Treat yourself – and others – to a poem.

(I know you’re waiting for one of my poems, but I didn’t want to make Amanda’s poem look bad next to my doggerel poetry. Next post will have a poem by me, Riley.)

Learning is a Road We Make Together – Two Legends Inspire Poets and Write Poetry for the ACE Poetry Contest

Posted by on Apr 12, 2021 in ACE Learning Center, ACE School Report, Continuing Education | 0 comments

By Max, San Francisco International High School ACE Poetry Contest Mascot, and Vlada Teper, poet, writer and founding teacher at SFIHS


Max, SFIHS ACE Poetry Contest Mascot.

Bark, bark. Max here. I’m the ACE Poetry Contest Mascot at San Francisco International High School (SFIHS.)

Ms. Vlada, like my father Mr. Jose, has been at SFIHS since the beginning, so we’re both legends. I want to give Ms. Vlada a bark-out because she started this really cool club at the school that used to be called Peace Club. She and the students really like to learn about non-violent communication in this club and they always plan really fun learning activities for us at school.

I can’t wait until we go back to in-person (ahem, in-dog) learning because they also cook delicious food from all over the world and share it with all of us at the school! Yum!

Ms. Vlada is also a great poet with great cred. Her poetry has appeared in publications like Oberon, Tuliptree Review, The Potomac Journal and The Mind’s Eye. And now her poetry is here to inspire all you poets for the ACE Poetry Contest. This year, she is teaching SFIHS Juniors Computer Programming and College and Career classes. SFIHS Huskies rock poetry, even in JavaScript.

The Road

With gratitude to Paolo Freire


“Miss, we need to

Practice coding

Every day, not just

One time next week,”

My student corrects me

the day before Spring Break.

“Otherwise, we forget.

It is very easy

To forget.”


I agree. JavaScript

Can really be the first

To go.

What else is on the brink

Of extinction? Which skills, which words,

Particularly in a pandemic?


In all truth, JavaScript

Is the least of my

Concerns. We will review

It this coming Tuesday. I

Worry about the student who

Lost his smile. About the student

Who forgets to ask questions,

Because which question do

You start with when there

Are about a million?


I worry about the black

Squares on the monitor that

Are not there today,

Because they are working.

Because survival is survival.


The disappearances these

Days are multi-faceted. They speak

Different tongues, co-existing

All at once. Still,

I turn on Zoom and say, “Good Morning.”

The shy, sleepy, excited, confused voices,



Remind me that learning is always a road,

A one day, one step at a time road,

A road we make together.


Awesome poem, bark, bark. We can’t wait to see more Huskies poetry.

Happiness in Dark Times – Here’s Wise Cat Bodie’s Advice on Life to Inspire for the ACE Poetry Contest

Posted by on Apr 7, 2021 in ACE Learning Center, ACE School Report, Continuing Education | 1 comment

By Bodie, Oakland International High School’s ACE Poetry Contest Mascot, and Jamilah, OIHS’s Poetry Ambassador

I’m Wise Cat Bodie.

Cats are wise. That’s why we make great poets.

J.J. is wise. That’s why she makes a great Poetry Ambassador for Oakland International High School (OIHS.)

Together we’ve written this poem to inspire our OIHS poetry students to “give your energy to what matters now and move forward.” Oh, and hopefully inspire them to learn about, love and write poetry. That combination is purrfect.

A Wise Cat “Bodie”

Hey, I’m Bodie.  I’m a cat,

Living my normal life with my master.

There are things you’d love to hear about me and my master.

Opening my eyes for a new day with my old soul.

When I walk into the room, all I can see is my old space.

Goals are gold to me.

Seeing my master speaking to a cat is weird to me.

Meow, meow, meow is my word.

Humans live with millions of words.

Creatures like us live with one word.

Loving you is as beautiful as the ocean view.

Sometimes I lied and said I was busy. I was busy but not in the way most people understand.

I was taking deeper breaths. I was busy silencing irrational thoughts.

I was busy calming a racing heart. I was busy telling myself I am okay.

Sometimes this is my busy and I will not apologize for it.

Someone once told me not to bite off more than I chew.

I said I’d rather choke on greatness than nibble on mediocrity.

Let me tell you something about life. Your new life is going to cost you your old one.

It is going to cost you your comfort zone and your sense of direction.

It is going to cost you relationships and friends.

It is going to cost you being liked and understood.

It does not matter.

The people who are meant for you are going to meet you on the other side.

Instead of being liked, you’re going to be loved.

You’re going to build a new comfort zone around the things that actually move you forward.

Instead of being understood, you’re going to be seen.

Also, what happened, has happened.

You can’t change that.

Give your energy to what matters now and move forward.

Wise is something unique and I’m a wise cat giving you my experience.

Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times if one only remembers to turn on the light as the sun when it comes out for the new day.