California Arts Council

State of California

Press Release Detail

March 25, 2013Mary Beth Barber

San Luis Obispo teacher James Bruce receives Poetry Out Loud "Hero" award

The first annual award highlights the important work done by teachers, teaching artists, and others for the program

Sacramento -
The California Arts Council has awarded James Bruce, a teacher at San Luis Obispo High School, the first annual "Hero" award for the Poetry Out Loud program. Bruce received the award on the state Senate floor today, March 25, 2013, during the California Poetry Out Loud state finals. The Hero Award was established by the California Arts Council to acknowledge the remarkable work done in the classroom by the thousands of teachers, coaches, teaching artists and others who bring the California Poetry Out Loud program to life.

"It's the teachers and others who make this program happen, and for that, they are my personal heroes," said Kristin Margolis, arts program specialist at the Arts Council, who manages the literary programs.

Bruce was selected as the first recipient of this award based on his extraordinary outreach with the Poetry Out Loud program in his high school and in other parts of San Luis Obispo County. Nominators especially noted his utilization of poetry as a literacy tool for English-language learners and for students of all academic levels. Quotes from supporters during the nomination process include:

"James impresses me with his ability to motivate all students on his campus and within our county, not just the ones enrolled in his classes....Through Mr. Bruce, students have developed a zest to read and write while enhancing their own poetic voice."

"James is also reaching out to students in his English Learning class in an attempt to help more fully integrate them into the school and other student activities. One example was that he helped obtain school spirit t-shirts for everyone in his class so they could be a part of the weekly school spirit activities. He also works diligently at finding materials and techniques that will help them advance to 'regular' English classes."

"James is responsible for San Luis Obispo High School's Poetry Out Loud success this year. His energy and enthusiasm for literacy is phenomenal. If it weren't for James, I would not have experienced such profound student success with recitation."

California's Poetry Out Loud program is the largest of its kind in the nation, with over 40,000 high school students touched by the California Poetry Out Loud program annually. Details on the program and the 2013 state championships are available at

Professional photos of Bruce at the 2013 California Poetry Out Loud state championship are available. Members of the press interested in the "Hero" award and the California's Poetry Out Loud program in general may contact Mary Beth Barber at 916-322-6588,

The mission of the California Arts Council, a state agency, is to advance California through the Arts and Creativity. Members of the California Arts Council include: Chair Wylie Aitken, Vice Chair Susan Steinhauser, Michael Alexander, Andrew Green, Charmaine Jefferson, Terry Lenihan, William Turner, and Rosalind Wyman.

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