About Emily Southerton

Emily Southerton (Delta '10) is a teacher and poet who created and runs The Poet Warriors Project. Emily is currently traveling across the country teaching poetry writing in low-income public middle schools and collecting original student poems for publication. In doing so, she hopes to empower students as community and self-advocates and highlight student voices in the American dialogue of change. Emily is a native of Mifflinburg, a small farming town in central PA, and a poet herself. She graduated as Class Poet from Villanova University in '10 and went on to teach English and Music in Jackson, MS, where the poems, songs, and powerful voices of Rowan middle-schoolers were so compelling, she had to create a project through which to publish them.

April Is National Poetry Month! 30 Days of Poetry Starters for Every Classroom

CBhKdsDWAAAMyQUApril is National Poetry Month, and no matter what you teach,  you can transform the first five minutes of every class into an empowering, issues-packed, discussion-based, poetry-friendly space.

In 30 Days of Poet Warriors: Young, Diverse Students, Writing for Change, I have compiled 30 poems and 16 videos by first-time poets and students that address race, immigration, moms, Michael Brown, and more.

Download the booklet for free on the Poet Warriors homepage, and this April, simply start each class by reading (or watching) the daily poem. After reading, follow with four minutes of discussion or writing.

By |March 31st, 2015|General Pop, Teaching Tips|Comments Off on April Is National Poetry Month! 30 Days of Poetry Starters for Every Classroom|

Thanksgiving: Who Are You Thankful For?



Happy Thanksgiving! You worked hard for your break. Before you head out to stuff yourselves with turkey and cranberry sauce, TeacherPop wants to thank all our readers, educators, and parents for their dedication throughout the school year.

As a special send-off, we have a moving reflection on gratitude from one of our students. In this sweet poem, 7th grader Florisel Martinez reminds us that, despite hardship and sadness, “life smiles” because of the hard work and sacrifices our parents and educators have made for us.

By |November 26th, 2014|General Pop|Comments Off on Thanksgiving: Who Are You Thankful For?|

Stories From Native Students

It’s Native Heritage Month! Celebrate by turning an ear to the voices of our native students across the country.

We’ve compiled thirteen autobiographical poems by some of TFA’s Native Hawaiian, Navajo, and Lakota students involved in our student voices initiative, the Poet Warriors Project. Enjoy the teaser excerpts, click to read the full poems on the Poet Warriors site, print and share these stories with your students, and if you’re interested in publishing your classes with the Poet Warriors Project, find out more here!

Zombie Army Burns Bridges & 6 Spooky Writing Starters

train crash 3

We’re trick or treat-ing you to some wicked ideas! Happy Halloween!

Without a doubt, it’s an exciting time of year to be a kid. But Halloween is a great opportunity for teachers to connect with students and have some fun as well with a few spook-inspired lessons!

In running the Poet Warriors Project, TFA’s initiative to publish our students’ voices across the country, I’ve come across thousands of powerful student poems aimed at creating change. However, one of my all-time favorite submissions is actually one that just playfully indulges in ghoulish imagining and is perfect to revisit this time of year.

By |October 22nd, 2014|Your Stories|Comments Off on Zombie Army Burns Bridges & 6 Spooky Writing Starters|

Banned Poems: 10 Students Write About Alcohol, Homosexuality, And Other Banned Topics




our lives begin to end

Note: The content in this post addresses violence, suicide, and rape.

It’s Banned Books Week! Together with the American Library Association, we are supporting the freedom for our students to seek and express truths in the classroom and beyond, even if those ideas are considered controversial.

According to the American Library Association’s stats on banned books, literature is often challenged when it deals with themes like drugs, alcohol, gambling, gangs, violence, suicide, homosexuality, or contains offensive language, political viewpoints, religious viewpoints, or content that is sexually explicit.

By |September 24th, 2014|Your Stories|Comments Off on Banned Poems: 10 Students Write About Alcohol, Homosexuality, And Other Banned Topics|

Students Speak: 7 Poems About the Stars

Whether we’re looking up from a front porch on a warm June evening or watching from the beach as people dance around, there’s no better time for stargazing than in the summer. This week, we’ve compiled seven Poet Warriors poems about the stars; take a moment to read through them, look up, and step into the summertime dreamings of our students.

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Read the full poems:

By |July 3rd, 2014|Personal Perspectives|Comments Off on Students Speak: 7 Poems About the Stars|

Student Poetry: 6 Summertime Poems

Summer is finally here! Like other kids across the country, our Poet Warriors anticipated this day all school year, so today we look back on six summertime poems written by kids daydreaming out the classroom window. Grab your surfboard and soak up some sunny stanzas!

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Read the full poems:

By |June 24th, 2014|Personal Perspectives|Comments Off on Student Poetry: 6 Summertime Poems|

Father’s Day Poetry: Students Write About Their Dads

(Photo credit: Pascal)

(Photo credit: Pascal)

Sitting in a classroom in Sanders, Arizona, 7th grader Onajae Betoney put her pencil to the page. Her teacher, Katrina Turner (New Mexico, ’13), gave her the freedom to write about whatever she wanted, and so Onajae wrote “Loving My Daddy.”

Like so many of the students who write for Teach For America’s Poet Warriors Project, Onajae was told she could write what matters the most and could publish a poem for the nation to see, and she chose to proudly share the story of her dad. In the past few months alone, at least 70 other Poet Warriors have published poems about their fathers. On this Father’s Day, we want to share a few excerpts. (Click the links to see the full poems on poetwarriorsproject.org.)

 Phoua can only describe his father using the most beautiful metaphors:

He’s the leaves that reach so high,

which sits right on the tree tops.

He’s those fences

that guards the flowers.

He’s those hopes

that keeps us believing…

My dad is the sun

that shines through the hardships.

Excerpt from “Family,” by Phoua Lee

By |June 15th, 2014|Personal Perspectives|Comments Off on Father’s Day Poetry: Students Write About Their Dads|