Southern Word is approaching its 10th year placing writers in Tennessee schools, and Martin Luther King Jr. Academic Magnet High School in Nashville is one of Southern Word’s oldest partners in utilizing this local, educator resource.
This innovative collaboration engages more than 200 students each year in writing and public speaking, both in the classroom and as part of an all-school assembly at which students share their personal writing in front of 1,000 or more of their peers. These efforts engage students across the spectrum from star poet and performer to those deeply shy and unsure they even have a story to tell.
Spoken word is also a way to hook students who may not engage in an English class, allowing them to share their feelings through artistic expression. It is a cathartic experience for them, while teaching traditional standards at the same time.
Yes, spoken word is linked to academics. Writing and speaking skills are taught and reinforced with revision and practice on written pieces that students work on and polish for performance. Students develop a thirst for writing and sharing their thoughts with an audience. Through the performance, the school community finds out that they have a supportive and understanding culture.