404 BJ Ward – 3rd Grade Poetry Residency

BJ Ward – 3rd Grade Poetry Residency

Do you know what your 3rd grader is doing this week?


Learning about poetry with the renowned teacher and author BJ Ward!


Between May 23rd and May 25th, poet-in-residence BJ Ward will spend four days reading and discussing poetry with each third grade class.  During the workshop, the children will:

  • Publish their own poem in a class booklet
  • Discover poetry with assistance from a harmonica and funny glasses
  • Get their own nickname
  • Read poems by Pulitzer Prize winning poets

And More about BJ Ward and his visit to TES!

Award winning poet BJ Ward, who has three published books and whose work appears in more than 100 anthologies, conducted a four day poetry in-classroom residency for Tewksbury Elementary School’s (TES) third grade during the week of May 21.  Ward, a Creative Writing and English professor at Warren County Community College, was recently acknowledged as a poet on the rise by The New York Times and recognized as one of “10 Artists Making a Difference” in New Jersey by Inside Jersey, a magazine publication of The Star-Ledger.

“As always, [the kids] look forward to every day with BJ,” said TES third grade teacher Stephen Strange.  “Every morning they ask, ‘Is BJ coming today?’”

In his high energy, animated and engaging signature style, Ward inspired appreciation of prose and nurtured poetic self expression in the third graders.

“I am the red spot on Jupiter roaring with rage,” and “I am the puppy that gets the first bone,” read TES third grader Melanie Lloyd aloud to her class on Friday, May 25 from her Thursday night homework assignment to write ten metaphors with seven words or more beginning with ‘I am…”

“They have so few opportunities to see, to meet, to interact with a real writer, who does write poetry for a living and who makes them want to write,” said Strange. “It is so much more than just having to write a poem as an assignment for a teacher.”

“It’s certainly not a selfless gesture,” said Ward.  “They’re giving me something too.  I get a lot of excitement from them.  I imagine it’s akin to how a horn feels in a jazz band when the other players let him have his solo.  He’s playing, but they’re right there playing along.”

Ward’s infectious passion for prose inspired teachers as well as students.  After last year’s residency, Strange shared some poems he had written with Ward.  Two of those poems, “Rebirth a Creek Prayer” and “Moose Morning” were published in the March/April 2012 American Whitewater Journal.

Each of Tewksbury Elementary School’s third grade classes will publish an anthology of their original poetry.  The BJ Ward poetry residency was funded by the Tewksbury Education Foundation’s (TEF) Cultural Arts program.

Thanks to your generous support, the Tewksbury Education Foundation is able to sponsor this special program.

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