Shana Smith-Coleman

Shana Smith-Coleman | Poetry and Spoken Word Teaching and Performance Artist

Educational Background/Training

  • Over 18 years of experience guiding, teaching, advocating for, and empowering young people.
  • Currently teaches poetry in five schools throughout the Hampton Roads area.
  • AAS Human Service from Tidewater Community College Magna Cum Laude
  • Studied at Lincoln University in Lancaster, PA

About the Artist/Ensemble

Shana is an American spoken word teaching artist that resides in Virginia Beach, Virginia. She currently works for a nonprofit called Teens With a Purpose where she helps to cultivate the next generation of leaders by encouraging them to use their voice and creativity to manifest change in their community. She teaches a poetry curriculum, in over seven different schools throughout the Hampton Roads area. Smith-Coleman, also known as Shana Shanell is from Philadelphia, PA, and has been writing since the age of 9. She was inspired by poetry in 4th grade when she heard the poem “Mother to Son” by Langston Hughes. Her writing style is greatly influenced by the city she grew up in, her love for travel, people, family, the arts and equality.

Educational Program Description

All students will be introduced to poetry and spoken word using exciting, unique and creative lessons. These lessons are intended to challenge their perspective and promote brainstorming, regardless of age, background, race, religion, sexuality or experience in writing. My teaching style is very inclusive and I prefer to connect with my students through commonalities, community, and social issues.

I incorporate music, poetry samples, movement, local artist work, visual arts and aids, places and things to inspire my students. The goal is to help aspiring writers recognize that everyday influences can be used to develop their own specific style of writing. I work closely with teacher partners in schools to establish lessons that are the best fit for their students. I believe in collective intelligence and reciprocity and I approach all my students as equals with something to offer. I use stories to build emphasis and establish a space to draw creativity and connection from.

Students that participate in my workshops will be encouraged to take an active approach to their writing instead of a reactive one when it comes to dealing with difficult topics. I like to encourage writers to use different literary devices to open up the windows and doors to their poems and to pursue telling the same story in a way it’s never been heard before. I believe that writing is a multisensory experience and my students will be taught how to tap into all of their senses to create and perform their pieces. I hope that the students that attend my workshops will be inspired to tell stories that are vivid, authentic, empowering and brings awareness.


  • College/University Students
  • Adults
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