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Dan Zev Levinson

Testimony from Teachers


Re: Thanks for Poetry

Hi Dan, Thank you also. It was a lot of fun. We all appreciate you and your work very much. I have been reading through the journals at home, and each day I am excited to come into work so that I can "gush" over the students’ poetry! There are about five boys (Zac, Steven, Shane, Frank, and Daniel) who are on fire right now with lyrics. I believe you and the residency inspired them. It's so exciting and refreshing to see them enjoy writing. They are contagious in their enthusiasm and they are spreading the excitement of writing throughout the campus. Thank you for all you do for our youth. Your time and dedication is a gift.
Sincerely, Jen Femenella


RE: poems for you

From: Mark Jensen
To: Dan Levinson

hey dan - many thanks again for your time, passion, patience, and expertise. as you can see - the kids really appreciated your class and can't wait till next year. safe travels and have a great year. - mark

PS. try to imagine Audrey's poem written in a tight spiral for the middle five lines - does word do that little trick? see ya.


Re: Academy Poems

Thanks, Dan!  I will put those into the anthology for our week.  Again, thank you for being you - the students' feedback was all positive, as usual - they love you!  We will send you a reminder about the reunion, but it is going to be on Wednesday, Sept. 22 at 6:00 in Sarah's room (I think it's room 15).  :-)

Thanks again,


RE: Poetry at HCOE Schools

From: Jennifer Fairbanks

To: Dan Levinson
I spoke to the School site council. They really want you . . . bad . . . must make you feel good.  We definitely don’t have the money to do the book, but we could possibly swing two one week sessions here at ERC.
Sorry it is not like it has been . . . I hope you understand.

Hello Dan,

The students you taught are still singing your praises.  I’ve talked to our principal, Mr. Slayton, and have permission to see if you are available again next year. Let me know if you are interested and what your schedule looks like.  I hope we can work something out.

Cindy Mallett


RE: Poetry at HSU

Hi Dan,
So I wanted to email and thank you again for coming in. I spoke with the students on Monday, and they absolutely loved you; they were already asking when you could come back:) A lot of them said they did end up writing poems, and at least 5 students are seriously considering putting their poems into their essays. The reason it took me so long to write is simply because I wanted to send you an email with everything they'd written. I've been asking everyday, and I will continue to encourage them, but I think a lot of them are nervous about sharing their work. So far, this is the first student that has come forward with her work; it's so great! And, I will continue to send you anymore that I get from them. Thank you so much; I can't say it enough.

Natalie r. Goyeneche


Re: Poetry Release Forms

Hi Dan,

The kids loved it - you were awesome and inspiring. 

Lisa K


To Whom It May Concern:

For the past 12 years, we have participated in the California Poets in the Schools project.  During each year, teachers in grades 4th – 8th have incorporated a Poetry unit into their Language Arts curriculum and the California Standards framework.  The project also supports the California Visual and Performing Arts Framework.  Poetry is a phenomenal medium for students to explore.  It allows differentiated instruction in the classroom, and a form in which students can express themselves.  It is always amazing to me to see which students gravitate toward poetry, and how this form of communication works so well for many students who otherwise are not recognized academically.  Poetry involves listening, thinking, and critiquing.  The creative process of poetry and the effect on learning carries over into other curriculum areas.

Over this 12-year period, we have had the great opportunity to work with Mr. Dan Levinson, a superb teacher.  Mr. Levinson has the gift of poetry and is able to reach into children and bring out emotions, senses, and creative juices.  During this time, there have been two 3-year sequences in which our Poet in the Schools followed students for three years as they progressed through the grade levels.  This intensified our program, brought a joy of learning poetry to our students, and enhanced our educational process.

Stanwood Murphy Elementary in the Scotia Union School District supports the residency of the Poets in the Schools program.  We will provide classrooms, teachers, students, and equipment.  Our Gifted and Talented Program can provide $1000 toward the Poetry in the Schools Project.

Our staff and students look forward to working with the Poets in the Schools program, and would like to make funding more assured through this grant process.

Respectfully Submitted,

Sal Steinberg
Curriculum Coordinator
Vice Principal
Scotia Union School District


RE: Gate Poetry in the Schools

Dan the Man,

Sounds like a great tour of the Mattole - yes, I would like to know where you can see fire coming directly out of the ground. Way cool. Quite a seismic planet.

Make my day! I am excited to hear that you were able to secure that grant. Hopefully the funds will be distributed in the right place. What does CAC stand for?

A little bit of you is a lot better than none of you, and we are delighted, (the teachers, students, and myself) to hear that we can continue with the longest running Poet in the Schools Project on the North Coast. YEAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!

I will consult with Amy Gossien and the teachers to determine the best two classes for you, and to determine the best week. January has worked in the past but another month might work just fine - Let's figure that out soon, and slate you in! Don't worry about the assembly. We'll go without it this year!

Thanks for your continual support.



To Whom It May Concern:

On behalf of Fieldbrook School I would like to highly commend the Poet-in-me Schools residency program that has graced our schools in Humboldt County.  We have been very fortunate to be able to work with Mr. Dan Levinson and this outstanding program.  Dan has very successfully taught poetry and writing in our classrooms, promoting creativity while addressing the need to write clearly.  He has also incorporated both the Visual and Performing Arts and the English/Language Arts state standards into his program.

Here at Fieldbrook we supported this residency program with supplies, classrooms and equipment.  It is our intent, even in this time of economic uncertainly, to continue to support the Poets-in-the-Schools residency program to the best of our ability.  The teaching staff has always been thrilled to have Dan on our site, and is looking forward to continuing this partnership.

We have a very active parents' group, our Booster Club, and a community philanthropic group, the Fieldbrook Education Foundation, who are both actively involved in promoting school-wide programs supporting the arts.  Both groups will actively help support this program in our school.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Daria Lowery


To Whom It May Concern:

It is my pleasure to write this letter of support for Dow’s Prairie School’s partnership with the Humboldt Arts Council’s poets in schools residency program and, specifically, for our resident poet, Dan Levinson.  Students and staff at Dow’s Prairie look forward each year for the return of our resident poet.  Dan Levinson has been providing lessons to our students for the past five years.  Our 4th and 5th grade students work on finding their “voice” and expressing themselves through poetry.  We especially see growth in our 5th grade students, having experienced the resident poet program the previous year.

Dan comes to Dow’s Prairie and provides enriching lessons in all of our 4th and 5th grade classes.  The lessons align with both the CA English/Language Arts and the Visual and Performing Arts Standards.  He takes care to ensure his lessons provide the artistic enrichment poetry can offer, while delivering quality curriculum and building students’ skills.  His lessons are accessible to our gifted students, our traditional students, and our students with special needs.  All students can and do access the lessons, producing outstanding pieces of poetry.  Dan is well prepared to teach each daily lesson, having all sequential lessons designed and materials prepared.  His classroom management skills are strong.  He is engaging and the students respond positively to the activities.

Dow’s Prairie supports the partnership with the Humboldt Arts Council through the use of facilities, materials and supplies, access to a wide variety of students, and fiscally.  We have funded our contribution through school funds and donations from our very active Parent Club.  Our desire is to continue offering this wonderful opportunity to our 4th and 5th grade students during the 2013-2014 school year.  This year the program served over 150 students at Dow’s Prairie School.

If you would like to discuss the program further, please feel free to call or email me at Dow’s Prairie.     


Kevin Scheffler
Principal Dow’s Prairie Elementary


To Whom It May Concern:

Once again, I am more than happy to write a letter of support for the Poets in the Schools residency program and for Dan Levinson.  Dan Levinson has been with Dow’s Prairie School in McKinleyville for three years now.  His program has been an amazing addition to our curriculum.  He comes completely prepared, has control of the classrooms because of the engaging lessons, and is able to help each student explore his or her unique gifts through poetry.  Even the most reluctant learners are inspired to find their voice.  He works with the 4th and 5th grade students, so this is the second year for many of these students.  Both students and teachers look forward to their poetry time with Dan.

Dow’s Prairie School has supported this residency with supplies, classrooms, and equipment.  We also funded part of his program with both school funds and Parent Club funds.  We are hoping to continue this residency into the 2011-2012 school year.

Dan worked closely with both the Visual and Performing Arts and the English/Language Arts state standards.  Poetry is a wonderful way to connect these two curricula because it promotes creativity while addressing the need to write clearly.  All of the teachers who have worked with Dan have been amazed at the amount of high level thinking they are seeing in their students’ writing.  I hope that his program is able to continue, and that Dow’s Prairie School is able to receive his incredible expertise.


Jane Rowland, Principal


To Whom It May Concern:

I am writing this letter to express my continued support for the Humboldt Arts Council, California Poets in the Schools, and for Dan Levinson.  Mr. Levinson has been coming to McKinleyville Middle School for several years teaching a poetry unit to all our sixth grade students.

Having gone to the California Arts Council Governor’s Council in the past, I know how lucky we are in our small area to have such a fabulous poetry program for our students.  Mr. Levinson’s program has been sponsored in part by our school’s PTSO (Parent, Teacher, Student, Organization), and continued support is projected for the future.

Students receive very rich poetry lessons in our classrooms.  Students who may be academically challenged thrive in the study of poetry with its limitless forms and with the play of language. Every student in sixth grade receives this extensive program, and the sixth grade program would not be the same without our annual visit from Mr. Levinson.

We love the way the California Standards for English-Language Arts and Visual and Performing Arts mesh during the poetry unit, and we’d hate to see this opportunity discontinue.  Our staff has been amazed with Mr. Levinson’s poetry project, and we look forward to its continuation at McKinleyville Middle School.


Wendy Pearcy
MMS Principal


To Whom It May Concern:

On behalf of Beginnings School I would like to enthusiastically recommend the Poet-in-Schools program that has been part of our schools in Humboldt County. We have been very fortunate to be able to work with Mr. Dan Levinson and this outstanding program. Dan has very successfully taught poetry and writing in our classrooms, promoting creativity while addressing the need to write clearly. He has also incorporated both the Visual and Performing Arts and the English/Language Arts state standards into his program.

Here at Beginnings we supported this residency program with supplies, classrooms and equipment. It is our intent, even in this time of economic uncertainty, to continue to support the Poets-in-the-Schools residency program to the best of our ability. The teaching staff and the children have always been thrilled to have Dan on our site, and are looking forward to continuing this partnership.

We have a very active parents' group, our Booster Club, and a community of poets, who are both actively involved in promoting this superb program. Both groups will actively help support this program in our school.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Peter Ryce


To Whom It May Concern:

It is my pleasure to write a letter of support for Dan Levinson.  Mr. Levinson has worked as guest lecturer for Pacific Coast High School during the 2003-2010 academic years.   Dan is a gifted instructor who brings a wealth of talent and experience to our student population.

In his position, Mr. Levinson has proven to work extremely well with our “at-risk” students.  He has demonstrated an excellent ability to adapt to the broad range of student ability levels, ages, and motivations.  Mr. Levinson presents a unique poetry program that captures the imagination and spirit of the students.  His passion for working with kids is apparent during each and every poetry lesson.  Although the course is not mandatory, his sessions are always filled to capacity with enthusiastic students.  It is a magical experience to see my students trust a process that allows them to express their fears, feelings, and hopes in a very public format.

Mr. Levinson has demonstrated a consistent level of professionalism in all his duties.  He is punctual and meticulous in all his affairs.  Unfortunately due to budgetary constraints in our schools, we will not be able to afford Mr. Levinson’s exceptional program during the 2010-2011 school year.  I can assure you, any assistance that you may extend to Mr. Levinson to allow him to continue in this endeavor will be greatly appreciated.  If you have any questions, please call me at your earliest convenience.


David Navarre


Subject: Poetry in my class

Good hearing from you!  Sorry about taking so long to get back to you.  My luthing email is pretty funky, can get, but not send, email so I tend to avoid it.  Not a good thing since it does bring in some business but mostly, people wanting an instrument usually just call.  Anyway, our principal said that he was asking you back.  Smart man.  However, when I voiced my solid approval, not to mention appreciation, he said that you would be working with the older kids.  Now, he sometimes forgets that I have a split class that includes third graders as well as fourth graders so he might have been confused but if you really are coming into my class, that's great news.  Your presentation last year was a high point.  It inspired poetry writing all year long.  I did keep my notes on your lessons and I'll give them a look when I get into my class tomorrow to see what all you covered.  I'll have to do a brief description as I don't think I gave them the titles that you mentioned.  Maybe on the handouts?

As far as bringing you back to Ferndale, that was all your doing.  You were a big hit. Way big.  Also, you should know, this is a very picky bunch of teachers.  They don't "give up" class time very willingly.  It was their often and loudly stated opinions of what you did that convinced Mr. Meyers that you were a necessity.  Of course, it didn't hurt that his daughter was in my class when you presented and she happened to love what you brought.  I'm really excited about this and I'll get back to you tomorrow after I've gotten my notes.

Will Hirsch


Re: Poetry at Peninsula School‏
From: Linda Stewart
To: Dan Levinson

Hi Dan!

I've attached the best pic from last year for you.

Yes! We would love having you again. You'll have to check w/ Dr. Wolford as far as the budget. We'll make room for you. I will have 6th thru 8th this year - last year's class minus 8th graders. Do you work w/ younger grades like 3rd thru 5th? If so I'll check with Katy Porter their teacher to see if she would like poetry lessons too. I've learned so much from you over the years. Thank you - using poetry in Science and History not just LA. That situation last year was referred to family services - I haven't heard anything more. She has moved on to Eureka High this year.

thank you!


Re: Poetry Anthology

I'd love to see the two PDF's and thank you for the hard copy. Deonnie and Billie are always picking up the other one you gave me. Deonnie is actually still writing poems and posting them on facebook! Courtney can't wait til she's a sophomore so she can take creative writing and poetry.  You have impacted many lives! Thank you!



Happy New Year Dan,

Thanks so much for coming down to So. Hum and sharing your poetry workshop with Skyfish kids. I really enjoyed the classes and learned so much from you.

In reading through their journals, I loved the space you allow for kids to explore—I appreciated that you rarely made specific suggestions about how students could improve their poems. You simply encouraged them and pointed out the attributes of their work in clear, simple terms. I struggle with giving specific feedback to students’ written work, so this was a great example for me. I could really see how this created a safe place for them to explore without fear of an adult telling them how to do it. I think this quality in your teaching is one of the main reasons that the kids respond so well to you.

I was really impressed with their poetry and moved so much by the kids, particularly Mocean and Noah who both commented that they didn't think or know that they liked or could write poetry before your class. I also want to share with you that I ran into Cameron's mom today in town and she informed me that, unfortunately, his cancer is back. They found out at his checkup in Tennessee last week. They're not sure what the next steps are, but she commented to me that she was really pleased to read his poetry journal each evening of the workshop and wanted him to continue writing. I'll be sure that he has his journal to bring with him wherever they decide to go for treatment.

I'm also really grateful for the high level of listening skills that you insisted upon. We've been working really hard on that, and the 5 days provided great practice for them. I pointed out to them in other classes that I knew they were capable of sitting quietly and listening because they did it (for the most part) in poetry class!

It was truly a pleasure to finally get to work with you, Dan. I hope the remainders of your classes in other schools go well and that we get to work together again.

Love, Ganasini


Re: Poetry at NCLA
From: Karen Myers
To: Dan Levinson
Dan, Dan
The poetry . . . guy
I don't know all the reasons . . . for
The current budget crisis.

It affects all of us,

I'm budget-woe weary
We need poetry
And p.e.
And music
The essential oils
Of humanity

Yet I'm glad that my students
And played
And sang
On paper

Poems from Beginnings Learning Center/Skyfish School

Dan!  What a
Man!  What a
Plan!  Yes he
Can pull toads
From our brains.
And if it rains
Skulls and bones
He knows the unknown.
He can show us the way.
He made my day!
But, alas, he had to go away.
Now we’re here,
Not drinking beer,
But thinking clear,
Or not, about
Precious poetry.

—Mark Jensen, Jade Winter Hare, Quinn Magpie


Ode to Dan

We travel into unusual colors, to invisible
lands, and even a Hershey’s kiss

while you’re here.

Our imagination takes over, we can’t
help to get drawn into a fantastic land
of poetry,

while you’re here.

We’ll count the days till you come back.
I really think the best time of the
year is near

while you’re here.

—Ursula Harwood


The Key is Poetry

Poetry? I used to ask.
Oh What is poetry?  Is it an
Earth rotating in space or a
Turtle swimming placidly through the sea?
Then I remember what poetry really is.  It is being
Young, being old, every feeling, every heart.



I wonder where my dreams go
Or where imagination rests.
Or why and how do birds fly north.
Why did we take to the plow?
I think I might never know,
But if I dig deep past
Ignorance, I find the key to
Inside of me and find the answer is

—Ruby Dickinson


A poem makes
its form in
the middle
my page.
I think
How much
I would like
To do this
Every day.
Thank you Dan.

—Audriana Bassis



Teaching me stuff  I can’t learn
Anywhere else.  Like the wolf can’t talk.
When I hear it howl it says, “DAN!”

—Rylie Miller



—Rhys Darlington


Simple Poem

This is a simple poem
Just for you

This is a simple poem
With only two words:
Thank you.

—Ella Scott and Tashina Fields



Life is either a Daring
Adventure or nothing
You can choose to take the risk
Or not.

—Tashina Fields and Ella Scott



Good Teacher
Oh Dan
Oh wall of inspiration never
Doubting the

Big part of my poetry
Yeah!  All the
Elephants live.

—Nitara Nevedal


Thanks for showing me
What a poem is.  Before you
Came to teach Mark’s class
I thought poetry was just rhymes,
But I guess they are
Made to express your brain
And to let out what you feel

—Raya Mahony