The Pure Imagination Program is honored to celebrate the wonderful work of Ryan T. Parker, Justice Lopez, and the students participating in the Open Mic Movement. Their passion for reading and writing is infectious and an inspiration to teachers in the inner-city and beyond of the power of student-centered learning. By empowering and honoring the voices of students taking part in Open Mic Fridays, you can see how they are inspiring not only more committed students but more committed citizens engaged in their communities.

Ryan T. Parker is a Manchester based poet, teacher of the year recipient artivist. Raised by a strong, single mother in Norwich, Connecticut, he has been penning poems and preaching peace since the age of ten. After graduating from Norwich Free Academy, he went on to receive a degree in English at Eastern Connecticut State University and a Master’s degree in teaching at Sacred Heart University. Influenced by the strength, wisdom and humor of his mom, love for hip hop and people,  his practices with tutoring at ECSU, and his personal frustrations with his own educational experiences and education system as a whole (his 10th grade English teacher had a sign in her classroom which read, “Silence is Golden” –Ahhh! Freaky stuff!), Ryan developed a passion for teaching and promised himself he would break that golden silence and bring golden noise into education! For the last fourteen years, he has kept his promise teaching English in Manchester, CT public schools, coaching youth poets, and performing and presenting on hip hop poetics and the significance of empowering youth. In addition to teaching middle school students, Ryan also consults with educators running workshops and professional developments centered on The Open Mic Movement in Education and teaching educators strategies for establishing and maintaining effective classroom environments.

Ryan has also presented at numerous educational conferences including LID, CONFRATUTE, NYCORE and COESBOC, NEAG, delivered a TEDx Talk titled 'Transforming Struggle into Strength', featured as a guest poet performer along with Pam Nomura in Hartford Connecticut’s Riverwood Poetry Series, starred as the feature poet at Hartford’s RealArtWay’s’ Inescapable Rhythms Poetry Series and is currently writing a Memoir and a guide to The Open Mic Movement in Education. Ryan also devotes time towards traveling to various school communities performing poems, giving motivational talks and training staff and students in igniting open mic movements.   When he’s not teaching or presenting, Ryan loves rapping, laughing, poeming, coaching youth poets, running, snowboarding, kayaking, hiking with his bloodhound, Otter, and eating chocolate chip cookies (preferably organic).