About Judy Bebelaar

Judy Bebelaar taught for 37 years in San Francisco public high schools: Samuel Gompers, Opportunity, Galileo, McAteer and International Studies Academy. She found success helping her students find joy in writing their lives, inviting poets into her classroom, and publishing student work in anthologies. For twenty years, she helped them produce a prize-winning multicultural literary/art calendar that contained their research and writing. Her students won many awards, including eight from Scholastic Magazine on the national level. Judy was honored on the national level as well: by State Farm, the Good Neighbor Teacher Award in 1996 (one of 8 nationally); by Business-Week/McGraw Hill in 1994, for innovative practices in teaching; and by Scholastic, The Whitehouse Women’s Leadership in Teaching, in 2002.

Judy is co-author, with fellow teacher Ron Cabral, of a book about the students they came to know when Jim Jones, in 1976, sent all the Temple teens to the small alternative school where the two taught. And Then They Were Gone: Teenagers of Peoples Temple from High School to Jonestown (Sugartown Publishing, 2018) follows the students the two knew best from San Francisco to Jonestown. The fortieth anniversary of the tragic murder/suicides in Jonestown, Guyana is November 18, 2018.

Walking Across the Pacific, a chapbook, was published in 2014 by Finishing Line Press. Judy’s poems have been published in more than fifty literary journals and appear in three anthologies:

Turning a Train of Thought Upside Down (ed. Andrena Zawinsky, Scarlet Tanager Books, 2012); in The Widows’ Handbook (foreword by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, ed. Lise Menn and Jacqueline Lapidus, Kent State University Press, 2014); River of Earth and Sky: Poems for the Twenty-First Century (selected by Diane Frank, Blue Light Press, 2015). 


  • 2006: Pleasanton Cultural Arts Council Poetry Prose and Art Festival -Tied for First Place, Two Honorable Mentions of 4 Awarded (Judged by Lynn Knight).
  • 2009: Flyway Writing The Wild Chapbook Contest – Finalist
  • 2011: San Francisco American Pen Women’s Soul-Making Contest – Honorable Mention
  • 2013: San Francisco American Pen Women’s Soul-Making Contest – Honorable Mention
  • 2016: UMKC John Cardi Poetry Book Award finalist
    2017: Glass Lyre Press Poetry Book Award semi-finalist
  • 2018: Ina Coolbrith Poetry Contest – “Love” category, 2nd Place


California Poets in the Schools

Squaw Valley Community of Writers

Bay Area Writing Project