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Master Poet-Teacher Highlight - Lois Klein (Santa Barbara County)

Updated: Jun 2, 2023

CalPoets would like to acknowledge and thank Lois Klein for the profound impact she has had on the lives of countless students. Her unwavering passion for education and the literary arts, her tireless commitment to nurturing young minds, and her genuine care for each individual have left an indelible mark that will endlessly resonate. Congratulations, Lois, on your retirement!

Throughout her career, she has been more than just a poet-teacher; she has been a mentor, a guide, and an inspiration. Her ability to ignite a love for language, unveil the hidden meanings within verses, and encourage creativity has transformed her classrooms into sanctuaries of poetic exploration. Her students have learned to appreciate the rhythmic cadence of words, the power of vivid imagery, and the profound emotions that poetry can evoke.

Beyond the technical aspects of poetry, she has instilled in her students a deep appreciation for self-expression, the vulnerability of sharing one's innermost thoughts and feelings, and the beauty of finding solace or inspiration in a well-crafted verse. She has nurtured their poetic voices, encouraging them to embrace their unique perspectives, and to use poetry as a means to make sense of the world.


Lois Klein listens people and to the world.

She's one of the warmest and wisest people I know.

I smile to think of all the students she has introduced to the world of poetry.

I'm not sure of much these days, but I am certain that the world

is a kinder place because Lois has been a Poet/Teacher.

~Cie Gumucio

Poet-Teacher and Santa Barbara County AC


Lois trained with me at the beginning of her career in California Poets in the Schools. Every minute with her in the classroom was a pleasure. She had a natural ability to communicate with children as well as teachers. She exuded great excitement for their creativity and a passion for poetry that cannot be taught. And her smile lit up any corner of room or heart. She continually created innovative plans always eager to share with me. For some years, we've been neighbors. Her contributions will live long in many of her student's hearts for years to come. Perie Longo

Santa Barbara Poet Laureate Emeritus. Poet-Teacher and Santa Barbara County AC.


I first met Lois about 15 years ago when I joined her writing group, which at that time met at her home in Montecito. Lois was and is an inspiring, encouraging, generous poet, and I’ve learned so much from her. When she told me she was a California Poet in the Schools, I determined to follow in her footsteps someday. Once I was able to do so, Lois shared many wonderful lessons and materials. We even got to teach together briefly on Zoom. In her 20 years of teaching, Lois has inspired countless students. She has a gift for connecting with young minds, finding just the right exercise, poem, or prompt to activate their imagination. She is also a great listener who ensures that every child’s voice is heard and appreciated. Lois is a unique treasure. Her students and fellow poets have been and continue to be enriched by her contributions. We are all lucky to know her! Kim Ernest



I began working/playing with poetry in elementary schools in 2000. At the time, I had retired from my MFCC private practice (too isolating) and was leaving a job at the SB Museum of Natural History. Through it all, I was writing poetry but gave no thought to teaching it in the schools until Perie Longo encouraged me to try it. And that was it! Between a BA in education and an MA in psychology, I found a home in the classroom!

The work mattered to me on so many levels. Watching children discover and express their full selves in a classroom I dedicated to safety and support gave me hope for our future. Letting students know that this is not just a fact-based world served to keep reminding me of that myself.

One of my most moving experiences was in a 5th-grade class sharing circle. The exercise for the day was to write about someone special in their lives. One (popular) boy read aloud his poem to the child his mother had miscarried. There was complete silence afterward as each child realized the power of poetry and the importance of letting oneself be vulnerable.

Early on, I wrote the following poem for my poetry students. I think it captures the essence of my fulfillment in teaching.

I Have Thought of You, Young Poets

I have thought of your faces

eyes bright with images

hands waving ideas on your fingertips.

I have thought of your frowns of concentration

your smiles of discovery

your journeys pressed onto paper.

I have thought of all the stories

wrapped inside you

each one a star in an endless galaxy.

I have wanted you to shine like that.

I know that you always will.

One of my favorite and most significant poetry exercises for students is an idea I got from Perie. It's called Magic Gifts, a way of expressing what we might give of non-material things to children who have been through disasters (Santa Barbara's own fires and mudslides, as well as situations faced by children the world over).


(excerpt from a cento written by 5th graders)

I want to give you the one star on a moonless night -- the star of hope.

Here is fresh water to rinse the dust of sadness off your feet.

I would like to give you the door to a new future and my arms for an everlasting hug.

Here is my cloud of kindness to give you sweet dreams on hard nights.

I have three children and now grandchildren and even three great-granddaughters who have kept me busy and given me much joy. I also like to read, continue writing my own poetry, cook, play in the garden, and spend time with friends and my partner Ron.



Poet-Teacher, Santa Barbara County

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