The following was submitted by the Puffin Cultural Forum:
Much of what we hear about our schools, our teachers and the educational system comes from those with either very little stake in the discussion or little to no experience in the classroom. This unique open mic forum, “S.P.E.A.K. (Sharing Poetic Expressions And Knowledge) About Education,” hosted and moderated by local poet and 4th grade teacher Toney Jackson, is devoted to validating the voices of those who dedicate themselves to fostering the future by teaching our children. Educators and community members are invited to share their poems, prose, stories and letters about or inspired by the theme of education, including lessons learned from students, contract disputes, vouchers, favorite teachers, unions, protests, community involvement, and more. Works from others may be read, as long as proper credit is given. Be among the first ten people to sign up to read one selection, under 3 minutes, and get in free! Others will be randomly picked to speak or read after intermission. Join Toney to speak out, meet, support, and listen to some of those responsible for making New Jersey schools among the best in the nation! $5 suggested donation. Walk-ins also welcome. Reservations can also be made before 5:00 p.m. on the Thursday prior to the performance: firstname.lastname@example.org. Friday, February 1, 7:00 p.m. The Puffin Cultural Forum is at 20 Puffin Way (off Teaneck Rd.) in Teaneck.
Toney Jackson, currently in his seventh year of teaching at Nellie K. Parker Elementary School in his hometown of Hackensack, NJ, began performing at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ in 2001, where he helped foster the spoken word/open mic scene. Since then, he has been recognized by the Academy of American Poets, has won several poetry slams, and has been a featured reader, performer, and workshop leader at schools, theatres, and other venues. He also writes and performs Hip Hop music under the name Zach Lost, working with such artists as Fat Joe, Dead Prez, Wyclef, Finch, and Talib Kwel. Toney has released two CDs; his song “You Know the Type” was 2006 winner for “Hip Hop Song of the Year” in the John Lennon Song Writing Contest; he is currently writing and illustrating several children’s books.