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Teaching Resilience to Children Through Poetry Inspired by MLK’s ‘I Have a Dream’ Speech

Nile Stanley: A Champion of Poetry in Education

This episode of Poetry in Daily Life features Nile Stanley, Ph.D., residing in Jacksonville, Florida. With a career spanning thirty-six years as a teacher educator, artist-in-residence, and researcher, Nile is dedicated to showcasing the significance of poetry in enhancing reading skills and fostering resilience. Collaborating closely with the host, David L. Harrison, Nile has contributed to various mediums including interviews, articles, books, and poetry showcases at conferences. Notably, Nile’s diverse background includes stints as a jazz radio DJ at the University of Delaware and a newspaper columnist for the Portales Tribune in New Mexico.

Poetry’s Impact on Resilience and Dreams

The influence of poetry extends beyond mere words, as exemplified by its role in shaping Martin Luther King Jr.’s iconic “I have a dream” speech during the 1963 March on Washington. Just as it inspired King, poetry has the power to instill resilience in children by conveying themes of strength, perseverance, and overcoming obstacles. This transformative impact is not merely anecdotal but supported by extensive research.

Moreover, storytelling, a form of bibliotherapy, serves as a potent tool in nurturing resilience. By immersing oneself in narratives of triumph over adversity, individuals gain valuable insights on resilience, enabling them to navigate challenges and aspire to new heights. One poignant illustration of this transformative power is the story of Moses Lee Jones, a former student who, despite facing immense hardships, found solace and purpose through poetry.

Born into adversity, Moses defied the odds stacked against him. Labeled as special education and grappling with personal turmoil, his life took a positive turn when he engaged with the Poetry Stars program, an initiative aimed at promoting literacy through the arts. Through dedicated support and mentorship, Moses blossomed into a Poetry Star, showcasing his talent and resilience. His journey from hardship to success stands as a testament to the profound impact of poetry in transforming lives.

Embracing Dreams Through Poetry

In a moving recollection, Nile Stanley captures the essence of Moses Lee Jones’ resilience and determination. Despite facing personal upheaval, Moses’s unwavering commitment to poetry symbolizes his resilience and unwavering spirit. Through a heartfelt rendition of Langston Hughes’ “Dreams,” Moses exemplifies the power of holding onto one’s dreams amidst adversity, emerging stronger and more determined.

Moses’s journey from a troubled past to a promising future is a testament to the transformative power of poetry. His success as a Poetry Star not only elevated his academic performance but also instilled a sense of purpose and hope. Moses’s inspiring story underscores the profound impact of poetry in nurturing resilience, fostering personal growth, and unlocking one’s full potential.


Dr. Nile Stanley’s dedication to integrating poetry into education reflects a deep-seated belief in its transformative power. Through initiatives like the Poetry Stars program, Nile continues to empower students like Moses Lee Jones, enabling them to overcome obstacles, chase their dreams, and realize their full potential. As we reflect on Moses’s journey, we are reminded of poetry’s enduring ability to inspire, uplift, and instill resilience in individuals, paving the way for a brighter future filled with hope and possibility.