About Cathy Kang

Born and raised in the Philadelphia area, Cathy Kang studied English literature and French at the beautiful College of William and Mary before returning to join the 2012 Greater Philly corps. She is currently teaching tenth grade English and poetry, but winds up learning more from her students every day. Her passion lies in learning new words, getting comfortable with failure, and finding ways for students to empathize with the unfamiliar. When she's not grading papers, she enjoys painting with friends, giggling over home-cooked meals, and looking for treasures in her old city.

4 Poems for Hesitant High School Students


April is National Poetry Month, and TeacherPop is celebrating every Friday by featuring four poetry selections from teachers who have participated in Teach For America’s Poet Warriors Project. Interested in getting your class involved? Email for details!

I had the privilege of teaching poetry to a wide range of high school students this year, from those who had scribbled poems all over their binders to others who vehemently denied having ever written a single line of poetry. Here are the four poems that engaged my students, no matter what their comfort level with the form:

1. Anything by Sandra Cisneros

So many of my students could access Cisneros’ informal, playful, and deeply personal language. I had students write about how they got their own names after a close reading of her vignette “My Name,” which turned out to be a wonderful assignment to start the year and introduce themselves to the class. More often than not, the assignment sparked good conversations at home, and the students end up learning something they didn’t know about their names (I know I did!).

By |April 11th, 2014|Teaching Tips|Comments Off on 4 Poems for Hesitant High School Students|

Poetry as a Microphone

Nixlot Dameus

Nixlot Dameus

Help Nixlot realize his dream of competing in Slovenia by donating to his CrowdRise campaign by May 10! 

This school year, I was assigned to teach a course called “The Art and Craft of Poetry.” I was excited about the creative journey that could possibly ensue—but I also was dreading the daunting task of filling 90 minutes a day with poetry, five days a week, for five months. My first students had much the same reaction. They filed through the door—some misunderstanding the course as semester-long “arts and crafts” session—and were either excited about what the course would possibly entail, or clearly dreading the thought of poetry.

“Ms. Kang, isn’t this an elective?”


“I didn’t pick it.”

“Great. Welcome to poetry.”

One of those first students was Nixlot, a 15-year-old teenage body-builder who was always the first one to class, wielding his bulky gym bag. Recognized throughout the school for breaking lifting records, Nixlot was most known for his strength. In my classroom, however, he also proved to be a leader. While many boys were preoccupied with balling up paper and playing trashketball when my back was turned, Nixlot was the student picking up the crumpled balls and appropriately placing them in the bin. To me, his silent gestures of service spoke louder than the state records blasting through the school loudspeaker.

By |March 21st, 2014|Personal Perspectives|Comments Off on Poetry as a Microphone|