For Educators

“I didn’t know education could be such a beautiful gift. I didn’t know that it could give you meaning and worth and faith in the future…I didn’t know it could make you a better human being.”

– Jimmy Santiago Baca, A Place to Stand

The Film

Jimmy Santiago Baca’s story, as told in A Place to Stand, is one of the world’s most compelling and impactful communications of the power of literacy, writing and education.

Wherever Jimmy goes, in our film, in person, or through his writing, students and youth are moved in ways never before seen by their teachers. Jimmy connects on a profound personal level with youth, and through his story, is able to communicate the value of learning and inspire growth.

To purchase a copy of the film for educational use, visit:

You can purchase copies of the film's curriculum & workbook below.

Praise for the Film & Curriculum

“I really liked the film...it left me thinking how learning to read and write could make a huge difference in your life.”

- Andre, 10th Grader

“This film left me thinking about how lucky I am to be receiving an education and to have a home. It's amazing to me how Jimmy Santiago Baca was able to walk out of one of the most brutal prisons there are and come out as a poet, not a drug dealer, a junkie, or a criminal. This film shows that you can change no matter what your situation is.”

- Autumn, 10th Grader

“The film was absolutely stunning, and one of the most inspirational films I've seen. I feel like I have more compassion for people in prisons, and I feel incredibly grateful for my life today.”

- Fiona, 10th Grader

“Having watched this film I am inspired to hold onto my education, to fight for my sense of self and to find a dream that I can follow.”

- Jules, 10th Grader

“Caits Meissner's mixed media curriculum is a refreshing, experimental, arts-inclined approach to learning which I have no doubt would be well received by the incarcerated who opt for education.”

- Jane Monteagle, Antioch University

“[My students] found the film powerful and inspiring—it's since become a bit of a touchstone for my classes and has positively shifted the tenor of the classroom community.”

- Jonathan Wright, English Teacher, Boulder, CO

“The curriculum material was refreshing and relevant, provoking important discussions and insights about Jimmy Santiago Baca's memoir and in helping students examine their own lives.”

- Rob Melton, English Teacher, Portland, OR

The Curriculum & Workbook

To facilitate a deeper learning, and to help students fully receive and personalize the themes and message of Jimmy Santiago Baca’s story, we’ve developed a curriculum and a student workbook.

The Film Curriculum

Finding A Place to Stand is designed to support educators in community centers, school-based programs and spaces of incarceration to facilitate critical dialogues and creative engagement with concepts presented in the film.

Each of the five intensive modules address a topical entry point, based around a relevant film clip. Scaffolded to meet varying needs, these lessons are accessible as one-off engagements or as sequential programming. Sequentially, the curriculum allows students to grapple with complex questions posed by the film, landing in a final engagement of their own inspirational fuel, passion and purpose.

  • Module One: Survival, Connection & Personal Transformation
  • Module Two: Nature vs. Nurture & Human Choice
  • Module Three: What Is Freedom?
  • Module Four: Prison in America
  • Module Five: Uncovering Passion and Purpose Through Poetry

The Student Workbook

“To use this journal, you don’t have to want to be an artist now, or when you grow up. You don’t have to want to win awards with your poetry or teach others to be creative. But you can and will benefit from the act of creation.” – Excerpt from the Introduction to Getting Free

Getting Free is a companion workbook for students and is meant to be used in conjunction with Finding A Place to Stand. It is a part-journal, part-workbook aimed to spark an exploration of creativity and self-expression. It can be used with the curriculum or as a stand-alone piece.

It is fun and freeing, full of 19 original exercises that can awaken the creative spirit, 50 blank pages for journaling, and an appendix with exercises from Finding A Place to Stand.

Additional Powerful Resource: Feeding the Roots

Created as a companion piece to the documentary film, the book Feeding the Roots of Self-Expression and Freedom reveals Jimmy Santiago Baca’s emergent poetic voice during his incarceration as a young man in Florence State Prison. Probing questions and curricular activities explore the depths of Baca’s pain and the promise of joy while doing time.

This moving collection by Baca and two National Writing Project Teacher-Consultants, Kym Sheehan and Denise VanBriggle, will resonate with all who believe in the transformative power of language. The authors intend the book as a waypoint for readers who seek clarity in their lives and a call to action to make a difference in the lives of inmates and ex-offenders alike.

Caits Meissner - Curriculum & Workbook Author

A Place to Stand curriculum is written by Caits Meissner, an award-winning poet, educator and vibrant force dedicated to transformation and healing through storytelling. For over ten years Caits has extensively facilitated youth and adults in multi-media expression and healing in schools, prisons and community centers, and has worked long-term instituting innovative arts education programmimng at cultural hubs such as Tribeca Film Institute, Urban Arts Partnership, The Facing History School and the Lower Eastside Girls Club.