2009 Teacher of the Year

Saint Mary's Kalmanovitz School of Education and River of Words Celebrate our Teachers of the Year!

River of Words/Kalmanovitz School of Education 2009 Teacher of the Year

Barbara Strasko, of Fulton Elementary School; Lancaster, PA


Barbara Buckman Strasko is a Literacy Coach at the Fulton Elementary School, in the School District of Lancaster in Pennsylvania. In 2008, she was appointed Poet Laureate of Lancaster County by the Lancaster Literary Guild. Her Poems Barbara Strasko looks to the camera at her desk.have appeared in The Best New Poetrs of 2006, Rhino, Spoon River Poetry River, Tar River Poetry Review, Ellipsis, and Ninth Letter. Her chapbook On the Edge of a Delicate Day was published by Pudding House Press.

Barbara Strasko earned her MFA in Creative Writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Strasko is also a graduate of Millersville University where she earned a BS in Elementary Education/Special Education, a Reading Specialist certification, Early Childhood Educaion and Guidance Certification, as well as an MS in Psychology. She was a guidance counselor for many years.

Barbara Strasko grew up in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, an area rich in the arts. In college she was a volunteer tutor in a largely Spanish-speaking educational center and began a career teaching in the School District of Lancaster. For many years she lived in the city and now she lives at the edge of the Conestoga River. She continues to pursue her love for nature, teaching, counseling, and working in the community. 

Barbara Strasko teaches poetry as a catalyst for literacy and achievement in academics and the arts, in a high-poverty uban school. She coordinates a student performance called Poetry and Arts Night for her school and community each year and she also edits Sunrise, the Fulton School Art & Literacy magazine.

As a poet-educator, Barbara Strasko uses the language of poetry to promote sensitivity, self-expression, and healing. She believes poetry teaches us to observe closely, to appreciate beauty, and to further understand human emotions. In her artistic statement she says, "I see a poem as a moment of change, and think the writing of poetry is a poweful way to shift our perceptions of ourselves and the world." 

Through the River of Words curriculums and contest, Strasko feels she is better able to motivate her students to write poems, and that it gives them a way to show the world what they know and what they want to change.


Like a Dream


Yes, I’m in this

Yes, I’m still alive.
  Of course you would
   have to be alive. This
     poem, all poems
       in fact, are
           dreams. And in dreams you
                  can do whatever
          you want.

So yes, you do have to be alive
to write a poem about how
you feel.
  In here, in this poem,
I can write about nature, water, the sun
         or moon. In this poem
I can be the president because
  a poem is like a dream.    

Seth, age 11. 2018 River of Words Finalist.
Lancaster, Pennsylvania. United States
Elizabeth R Martin Elementary School
Teacher: Barbara Strasko and Jen Barbusca