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 and, for twenty years, in a prize-winning multicultural literary/art calendar. 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.
She is now co-host of a reading series sponsored by the Bay Area Writing Project at UC Berkeley, and is currently at work on a non-fiction book And Then They Were Gone: Children of Peoples Temple from San Francisco to Jonestown, which follows the story of some of her students, the few who survived, and many who perished in the tragedy of Jonestown, Guyana in 1978.
Judy’s poetry tied for first place and won two honorable mentions (of four) in the 2006 Pleasanton Cultural Arts Council Poetry Prose and Art Festival in California, judged by Lynne Knight, and she was a finalist in Flyway’s Writing the Wild 2009 chapbook contest. She won honorable mentions in the 2011 and 2013 San Francisco American Pen Women’s Soul-making contest.
Her poetry has been published in more than fifty literary journals and appear in two anthologies:
Turning a Train of Thought Upside Down (ed. Andrena Zawinsky, Scarlet Tanager Books, 2012), and The Widow’s Handbook (ed. Lise Menn and Jacqueline Lapidus, Kent State University Press, 2014). Finishing Line Press is publishing a chapbook of her work: Walking Across the Pacific, June, 2014.