Dogs

A Poem

Photo by Matt Joneson Unsplash

Do the dogs know pain
Time just passes
without want
but for the moment

How I want to laze — 
Run like them
Free

From waiting
for the car to show up
To pull into the driveway

Like it’s nothing

And everything
to hug your daughter

And remark on the pride
of seeing her grow and rise
to eminence
before your very eyes

Waiting for the showing up
is different from chasing

With chasing there is something
to go for

Even if it is imagined

How I long
to chase free
and have the dogs
tell me what to do

so I can walk away
from the bay window
of my childhood

Give me a reason to stop
watching the hill


© Samantha Lazar2019

Thank you for reading. Here are links to more writing:Paper Dolls
A Short Storypsiloveyou.xyz
This Canyon (2)
Courage looks deep into that canyon
and says — I see you
and I am coming down to feel
the pain
and what blossoms in…
medium.com

Driving My Grandfather Home

A Poetry Memoir in Free Verse (for Poetry Sunday)

Photo by Matt Alanizon Unsplash

My father drives his father home
Too weak to fly to the other side

It happens
Again

We’ll leave his condo as it is
For now

The braced grins of my sister and me
Glued to the fridge

Children and grandchildren and great grandchildren
Frozen in time on the humid porch

Crabgrass and palm trees
Neighbors who knew him

And watched him
Perhaps his puzzles half finished

Still spinning
The music he could whistle flawlessly

To his wife
Her memory still staring from her chair

Beautiful knowing as time passes
We do what we can

My father arranges his one
Bedroom apartment

Then brings his father
Home

© Samantha Lazar2019

Thank you for reading. You may also enjoy:The Silver Briefcase: How, as an Adult Child, I Learn to Let Go Over and Over
I held my dad’s hand — thumbs like mine, familiar as if I had been holding it for 38 years.medium.com
My Grandfather this Morning
My grandfather this morning,medium.com

Rewind

A Rubaiyat Poem

Photo by Jordan Whitton Unsplash

I watch the world crumble to its core
As media shouts our latest gore
After hearts and bones are left behind
Shattered, no longer live like days before

And who decides life isn’t worth
The beauty humanity shares at birth
But truth will see lies are entwined
With how we spend our time on earth.

Oh massacred, you never had the chance
To wander through life’s great romance
Or find yourself lost in all the choices
For your swollen voice to take a stance

Shields, if only for our children, provide
For ghosts of shame dare you not to hide
Leave only those who demand to dream
That soon a day will turn the tide

© Samantha Lazar2019

Poetic Form Challenge

Where Will My Child Be Safe?

A Poem in Response to Prompt: Maps

Photo by Matt Popovichon Unsplash

We all sleep, and breathe and dream in this city —

But do not go east at night, dear child.

I have mapped these crimes,
These grand indictments.
These crossed lines 
Extend past daybreak too
I’ve heard these tales, and steer clear
Of the latitudes and longitudes.

And south of here, right by school
Where you want to just look at Lego sets
Even though we have groceries to get — 
This parking lot becomes territory
To lost souls who are not here
For Starbucks or weekly shopping peace.

And yes, all 12 voted, first degree
Behind your soccer practice fields
Mark on your map, a felony.
Don’t be alone for crossfire then — 
Please hold my hand,
Just hold my hand.

And north of course,
Where you were born
Suspicious vehicle left to emergency
A man, left to bleed, 
a kid, really — 
Only 16.

Does his mother weep?
Her sweet son lost in the same driveway
Where first we both drove home,
Nursed our newborn boys
To sleep. 
Mark the north spot. Ink it, deep.

Well west, you said,
Mama look how the sun sets — 
It’s so beautiful, Mama. 
Please look away my child.
I learned that predators are out on bail, 
And I have no more ways for us to sail.

© Samantha Lazar 2019

Originally Published Here.

When Words Are Lost

Photo by Benjamin Balázs on Unsplash

Calling you, change maker,
In your maker space
Come out, come out
Wherever you are,
And compose a breath
For all to take,
A dream for all
To finally awaken.

You can argue,
Not me, look away
And pretend this violence
Lives too far from home.

Compliance to the
Company that you keep,
Who pays someone else
To sweep your shame
Away, forgotten
Like the illusion of
Safety.


Again, wake up, you grieving child.
You were made to run.

It is, has been and will always be
Your discourse that we need.
Your voice for the future,
Stolen.

What word now, you speech weaver,
You diamond digger
You soul hider,
What happened after you promised
To lead?

And now to fight the bleed
The anger stuns,
And fear you eat
After which too full,
You drift back to sleep.


Calling you, the wisest one,
Removing your gag,
We’re listening.

You were never supposed to
Silence your song.

Translate it quickly,
Melting weapons
Back to metals,
Where they belong.


Samantha Lazar 2019

Originally Published Here

Stop Thinking About Grad School

And go live your life

Photo by Logan Isbellon Unsplash

You just graduated college. It is hard to find a job with just an undergraduate degree these days. You love school. You spent six years and a summer school session at four different colleges figuring it all out. Maybe you changed your major senior year. Maybe you have debt, but you wouldn’t trade it for the experience you had. And now what? Are you feeling the call of grad school? Is now the time?

I don’t know what it is about college stairwells — the worn wooden handrails, pull-tab information flyers taped on the walls for writing groups, nanny positions, computer help, flu shot clinics, self-help groups. It could be my quickened heartbeat, racing up to the third floor, or the echoing ghosts of past academic conversations that awaken my curiosity and potential.

I felt a pressure to go get my master’s. Most of the pressure was coming from within me. I wantedthat MFA in creative writing. I wanted to spend my days on campus. I wanted to keep living that academic life, but I needed to get a job.


I know that today’s generation is holding out longer than mine to settle down. As a kid of Gen X, I felt the pressure to get married, have a career, pop out some babies, and be financially secure by age 25.

25? Didn’t my brain just finish developing somewhere around then?

I lived my life first.

I was the last of my group of friends to get married and have a baby. Unfortunately, many of those friends in our twenties who had amazing weddings in Asheville, Sarasota, Vail Ski Resort, Long Island, Costa Rica… they are divorced now.

I started my teaching career right after I graduated. I love being an English teacher. Being a teacher, although at the beginning barely paid the bills, gave me time to write and create art, learn to play guitar, travel and meet people, see the world, work extra jobs, make a ton of mistakes, learn from my life, and grow up. Some day, maybe, I would go back to school.

“You don’t have to get the MFA. Fine if you want to, but you don’t need it to be a writer.” -Jaki Shelton Green, North Carolina Poet Laureate

After teaching for 18 years, with a supportive husband of 6 years and a child in kindergarten, I finally decided to get a Master’s in Education.

And it was the best decision at the right time.

Photo by Caleb Joneson Unsplash

I finally totally knew what I wanted. Being a teacher is what the universe called me to do, but I wanted to deeply understand my chosen career. I couldn’t have studied and researched and written about education and learning without the depth of my experience first.

It wasn’t just the teaching experience that helped me in grad school. Life experience showed me things like resilience, commitment to personal growth, commitment to success, willingness to grow and stretch in my teaching practice.

Because I waited, I had confidence to speak in class, give presentations, research, and write long about my learning. I knew what I was doing, and I knew what I did not yet know. I was very open to ideas, and I felt life was showing me yes, I chose the right path.

The biggest lesson- it is never too late to do [fill in the blank].

Who says 45 is too late to write (finish) my first novel?

I will echo what my poetry mentor, Jaki Shelton Green reassured me:

If you are ready for grad school, or if it is the next step in your career aspirations, go for it. The time is now. If not, don’t worry, schools will be lined up to take your money when you are ready.

© Samantha Lazar 2019

Originally Published on MEDIUM

Following my Mom across the Pasture

A poetry memoir

Purple Martin Houses — Samantha Lazar

Lazy Saturday filled with talks, dogs, hours
moving sunlight
announcing blooms

It is spring on our land after all

Which mums to move
and herbs to weed
New raspberry
What course to take

I am her, and she is me
and as she ages,
I must too.

The willow’s grown
Will we have peaches this year?
That is always the hope,
she says.

Attempting to bring the horses down
I’m in no hurry,she says, are you?

Suddenly everything
is tears
and I don’t know why — 
but I do

She calls me to come see
a mouse grown fat
safe under the grain bucket

I am frozen — 
flip flops, rutty earth
salt spring, jasmine
my mother’s voice,
calling the horse
the small visitor

April wind — 
I see it all
this moment how precious.
And she tells me to not be
afraid of the mouse.

We both laugh again
pretending that is
what I see.

© Samantha Lazar 2019

Originally published here.

Educating the Gifted

My philosophy based on my learning and experience

Photo by Debby Hudsonon Unsplash

My reflection on and philosophy of gifted education comes from my masters of education program, where I specialized in studying academically and intellectually gifted teaching and learning.

Gifted people exhibit a combination of high intellectual ability and potential for talent in one or more domains of curiosity, performance, athleticism, art, or academic interest (Van Tassel-Baska, 2005) that measure above and beyond the average expectations of their classroom, age, or any other grouping where potential and talent are measured. I have learned through the many conceptions and definitions of giftedness that the “three-ring conception” of giftedness (Renzulli, 1998) most fits my own philosophy. Measurements must not be limited to performance on standardized testing, nor be contingent on socio-economic, cultural, or ethnic backgrounds.

Giftedness can be presented through portfolios or other documented collections of work and performance. Students who display these characteristics deserve to be challenged and appropriately taught to meet their needs.

People who work with gifted students have a responsibility to develop an explicit education plan that nurtures all aspects of students’ high potential, while taking into consideration the social and emotional needs of the individual.

Photo by Philipp Kämmereron Unsplash

Learning happens when a person can make connections with the topics and life experience, other disciplines, or foundational skills.

Students who make quick connections should be allowed and encouraged to explore topics of skill and interest at a pace and depth that meets their goals and needs. Some students need acceleration in skills and in content, but for core knowledge — teachers should provide best possible content and delivery within the resources available. Students need to be known to the best of a teacher’s and school’s ability, so that learning paths can be designed in an authentic way that are meaningful to the students. The Parallel Curriculum Model (Tomlinson, Renzulli, et al., 2009) stresses the importance of designing authentic curriculum and experiences that will have lasting effects on student learning.

“I believe that education, therefore, is a process of living and not a preparation for future living.” (John Dewey, 1897)

In order to provide gifted education, this philosophy and definition must be held in high regard when making decisions for students and programs. All students need to be challenged in order to grow. Potential should be recognized and teachers should strive to foster talent and potential in all students by providing engaging paths for learning. The bright students, formally identified or not, deserve to be challenged and taught at their level.

Photo by Santi Vedríon Unsplash

Teachers of all students should provide a child-centered learning environment, so that all students have an opportunity to reach their goals.

Gifted education should allow kids to be creative, allow for choice, play into their interests and challenge them to solve problems or find problems within disciplines. Students should grapple with real life applications of the discipline- and to find connection and meaning with all of the content.

Thus, I believe that good education is gifted education and gifted education is good education.

This echoes some of what Borland (2005) theorizes about schools providing gifted education without labels.

Reflective practice and commitment to life-long learning are at the heart of my beliefs about education.

Teachers should be constantly seeking professional development, participate in professional communities, and immerse themselves in the world of education. Just as we ask our students to reflect on their work, it is important that we take time to examine our practice in the classroom.

I think by modeling that we are awake to life, students begin to appreciate that they have the present moment to build upon.

Teachers must be responsive to students and to meet them where they are. As teachers, we only can influence in the moment, and so we must take this very seriously.

One example of a defensible curriculum for gifted and allstudents is the Parallel Curriculum Model (Tomlinson, Renzulli, et al., 2009). The Parallel Curriculum Model allows teachers to design units with ascending intellectual demands as well as decide the angle at which to present the content. This model helps gifted students practice and identify with the discipline within the adult world. Gifted students need depth beyond a regular curriculum. Within the Parallel Curriculum, students can grapple with problems and extend their experience with a subject.

For example, I have used the Core Curriculum and Curriculum of Identity parallels in my fantasy literature unit for fourth grade. Students have designed learning paths based on levels of interest, curiosity, skill, and core understandings. Products in this unit are engaging and allow for student creativity. This model also stresses theimportance of differentiationwithin every level of learning, because it incorporates individualized learning paths.

Activities are designed so that students can enrich and extend their learning through advanced experiences. Some examples of this are identifying with a literary research project about authors’ influences or archetypes across literature. Students tap into their understanding of theme by exploring the concept of power, either through an online discussion or art expression, for example, about how power shifts in scenes, dialogue, and through character changes.

In my classroom, students create Harry Potter’s world, and because of their connection with the concepts, students’ gifts and creativity shine. Through projects like these, I have learned that I have a constructivist style and some form of Piaget’s (1968) experiential learning and philosophy of teaching.

I have witnessed my students’ joy in learning, in their eagerness to get started on their wand shop or their book of spells.

Photo by Clark Youngon Unsplash

Another example is when one of my students who is gifted in languages (English is his fourth language.), excitedly came up to my desk to share that he had made a connection between a Latin root word and a magical spell in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Now as an extension, he has the option to explore other root words, their meanings, and their connection to other spells in the book.

Gifted education should expand a students’ critical thinking, connections, and creativity.

The purpose of gifted education is to meet the needs of our brightest students and to recognize and nurture academic and intellectual potential and talent so that students continue to strive for excellence in all they do. It is the teachers’ and administrators’ educational responsibility to provide enriching and challenging curricula that allow for creativity, problem-solving, and intellectual growth so that children can be life-long learners and become creative-productive adults.

I believe that all students deserve to have an education that builds on interconnected disciplines, and that learning paths should be designed in an authentic way that is meaningful to the students. When students are truly connected with what they are learning, and a teacher has a true understanding of her or his students, student productivity and creativity expand.

Educational experiences designed and planned with this philosophy will nurture giftedness, high ability/potential, and talent. Students can build successes on their potential, and with the right teaching and mentoring, can blossom and reach their full potential and move on to be creative-productive adults.

© Samantha Lazar, M.Ed. 2019

References:

Borland, J.H. (2005). Gifted education without gifted children: The case for no conception of giftedness. In R. J. Sternberg & J. E. Davidson (Eds.). Conceptions of giftedness (2nd ed.) (pp 1–19). Cambridge University Press.

Dewey, J. (1897). My pedagogic creed. Retrieved from http://dewey.pragmatism.org/creed.htm

Renzulli J.S. (1998). The Three-Ring Conception of Giftedness in Baum S.M., Reis S, M., Maxfield L. R. (Eds.). Nurturing the gifts and talents of primary grade students. Mansfield Center, CT: Creative Learning Press.

Rowling, J. K. (2001). Harry Potter and the sorcerer’s stone. London: Bloomsberg Children’s.

Piaget (1968). Retrieved from https://gsi.berkeley.edu/gsi-guide-contents/learning-theory-research/cognitive-constructivism/

Tomlinson, C. A., Kaplan, S. N., Renzulli, J. S., et al. (2009). The Parallel curriculum: A design to develop learner potential and challenge advanced learners.California: Corwin Press.

Van Tassel-Baska, J.L. (2005). Domain-specific giftedness: Applications in school and life. InR.J. Sternberg and J.E. Davidson (Eds.) Conceptions of giftedness, 2nd Ed. (pp. 358–376). New York: Cambridge University Press.

This article was originally published at The Inspired Classroom

A Child I Am

A poem

Name Art Doodles by Samantha Lazar

A child I am — 
getting ready
high on a new set
of brilliant pens
fanned out on my floor
each color tested-
flourished doodles
my name your name
gorgeous drips
butterfly fantasy
vessels and profiles
planets and alphabet
inventions
outlined letters
a thousand tiny spirals
I have the time — 
shades of purples
blended and faded
oh! trees and roots
wildflowers and hands
holding April
on a new canvas-
Life! How unfolding
this paper fortune
reveals
I am still the same.

Originally published at https://medium.com/@LazarSamantha/a-child-i-am-1ea162b50c40

Reunion

Originally published at https://medium.com/promposity/reunion-bd7f19511da0

Photo by Samantha Lazar

One evening when I’d had enough,

And off my chest just flew this stuff.

I looked my love right in the eye

I said, “let’s give something a try —

Turn off the news, I’ll tell you why

All this division makes me cry.

What if they all are numb to pain?

It won’t be easy to retrain.

Have you set foot across the lane?”

“Across the aisle, they say. Insane!

No way will I go to their side,

For that is where hearts all have died.”

“Come on,” I said, “let’s take a ride.

Let’s walk the walk- no time to hide.

Their blood still drips in the same hue,

no less human than me and you.”

“There’s no way, what you say is true

But go on over; you do you —

I’d rather stay in this cocoon.

Have fun with that, I’ll see you soon.”

“How will you ever hear my tune?

Don’t we all glow with the same moon?”

“If I go, I’ll stir up trouble.”

“Well,” I said, “I dare you double.

We’ll hike across the dirt and rubble,

If just to prove we popped our bubble.

And reach our minds beyond the hate —

It’s fear disguised, an ugly trait.”

“If only they’d unlatch that gate.”

“We’ll see that it is not too late

To start at last to understand —

We all like mountains and the sand.

And how we all can heal the land.

It never was about the brand,

And our precious time is fleeting.”

“I’m sure we’ll set up a meeting

Talk about all the mistreating,

Lists of lies, and wins from cheating.”

“Hurry now; we’ll miss the train.

Take their hands and form a chain.

Head to the clouds to feel the rain —

We made this mess; we left a stain.”

And through the woods of all lost hope,

Found in ourselves a place to cope.

To common ground we threw a rope.

and rose above the slippery slope.

“Together we will all awaken.

Fix what’s shared, before it’s taken.”