California Arts Council

State of California

Press Release Detail

March 17, 2015Caitlin Fitzwater

Nevada County Teacher Steve Hansen Receives California Poetry Out Loud “Hero Award”

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

Sacramento -

 The California Arts Council has awarded Steven Hansen, a Nevada County district wide English teacher, the third annual "Hero Award" for the California Poetry Out Loud program. Hansen received the award on Sunday, March 15, 2015 during the California Poetry Out Loud State Finals at the Sheraton Grand in Sacramento.

Nevada County received two big wins at the California Poetry Our Loud State Finals, as Falyn Lazarus, a senior at Nevada Union High School, was the first runner-up. (See more about the student champions at this link.)

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.

Hansen was selected as the third recipient of this award based on his extraordinary leadership of the Nevada County Poetry Out Loud program, and his coaching and cultivation of young poets at Nevada Union High School, Bear River High School, and throughout Nevada County.

"There is a common phrase ‘it takes a village.' In the case of Nevada County Poetry Out Loud, ‘it takes a cheerleader,' said Holly Hermansen, Nevada County Superintendent of Schools. "English teacher Steve Hansen has singlehandedly promoted this program like no other. Wherever Steve is located within the high school arena, the program thrives."

"Steve Hansen is enthusiastic, caring, while also keeping the focus on the poetry, for which he exhibits both knowledge and sensitivity. He brings out the best in his students," said Tom Wilson, poet and Nevada County Poetry Out Loud coach.

From Left: Craig Watson, Director of the California Arts Council ; First Runner-Up, Falyn Lazarus, Nevada County; Hero Award recipient, Steve Hansen; Dana Gioia, former Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts (hi-resolution download)

This year marks the tenth time the California Arts Council has produced the annual state competition - the largest of its kind in the nation, with over 40,000 students in 40 California counties participating. An initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA,) Poetry Out Loud encourages high school students to learn about poetry through memorization, performance, and competition.

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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 Donn K. Harris, Vice Chair Susan Steinhauser, Michael Alexander, Phoebe Beasley, Christopher Coppola, Kathleen Gallegos, Jaime Galli, Nashormeh Lindo, Steven Oliver, and Rosalind Wyman. Learn more at


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