Jonathan LaPoma

Author / Screenwriter




  • Stargazer Literary Prizes, 2015, 1st Place (Visionary and Metaphysical Fiction category)

“Inspired by his own travels, screenwriter and author LaPoma’s narrative is raw and edgy, effectively anchored by two protagonists whose brio and “same sense of adventure” keep the story alive…Entertaining and authentic look at the troubled American educational system, courtesy of two men propelled by perseverance and adventuresome spirits.”

— Kirkus Reviews, Recommended Review

“Should be required reading for anyone who is considering or has ever considered teaching as a career . . . most highly recommended.”

Jack Magnus, Readers’ Favorite, 5-Star Review

“Poignant, engaging. . . a frighteningly accurate depiction of inner-city schools. . . Developing Minds is a full-bodied work of fiction that will ring true with both students and teachers and provide a point of hope in an industry that has become increasingly profit-minded and complex.”

— Red City Review 

“DEVELOPING MINDS is a raunchy, yet captivating story of two best friends, one gay, one not, who decide to spend a year teaching in the dysfunctional Miami school district… Jonathan LaPoma is an extraordinary writer.”

— Stargazer Literary Prizes (1st Place) 

“Sometimes the meat of a title lies not in fire and flames, but in simmering passion. Such is the nature of the coming-of-age experience depicted in Developing Minds, which offers a multi-faceted exploration of growth, maturity, and eventual transformation on the parts of all involved.”

— D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review 

There are at least two competing ways of sizing up Jonathan LaPoma’s very entertaining novel Developing Minds: An American Ghost Story, and both have merit.

(1) It is a scathing comic novel about the failures of American urban education, sort of a M*A*S*H for Miami schoolteachers.

(2) It is a Bildungsroman about the personal growth of a young man who happens to be a Miami schoolteacher for a year.”

Patrick Murtha, Book ’em, Danno

“Readers will be gripped by the many dimensions the plot has to offer…The story is honest, authentic, entertaining and poignant, and the contrasting images of a young man trying to grow in his personal life and the failures of the Miami school system have been woven together well without sounding forced.”

Mamta Madhaven, Readers’ Favorite, 5-Stars

“There is never a lack of style and all the words, carefully measured, enclose a meaning and a wink . . . The author delves into the intricacies of the human soul with padded outlines with rapid strokes, no less precise or less deep on a psychological level . . .”

Kalyan Panja, Booktica

“I was quite impressed . . . The humor was quite well-done, I found myself laughing out loud . . . As a young adult myself, I find Luke’s personal life so relatable and realist. We learn how to get out of toxic relationships, to be able to move on and to recognize true friends or, simply, the friends that are not good for you anymore. The author puts it in a subtle and smart way . . . The character development was rightfully done . . . don’t miss it!”

— Trang Tran, Bookidote

“Not for the faint of heart, Developing Minds will either have you furiously flipping the pages or fearfully enrolling your kids in home school.”

— Will’s Weekend Wrap-Up, NoiseTrade

“Incredibly artistic . . . The vast majority of college grads will relate with themes of alienation, addiction, and misguided hopes . . . Filled with drama and drugs, this novel is raw and endearing. It teeters on the edge of obscene, but really stays true to the life of an early 20-year old, amidst the drama and guise of self-discovery. Instead of idealizing public schools or idolizing functional drug addicts, it just lays out the truth.”

— San Francisco Book Review



-“The initial glimpse into the life of a Wisconsin family whose male members have worked in the local slaughterhouse works well. The characters are all strongly written. The way Robert at 12 becomes brutalized into killing animals is well done as is his change to being a stoic, brutal husband. The concept works well as his son Cody, a compassionate child growing up in a dysfunctional home vainly tries to overcome his heritage. It would be emotionally touching to an audience. The setting of this story in the backwoods of Wisconsin is well done. The story structure bears up fairly well. The scenes flow well and logically as they show the young boy, Cody grow up to try to overcome his family heritage but failing in the end. There’s believable conflict between those who slaughter animals and others who say they want to stop it. Cody’s inability to shake his heritage and truly love a woman without fear or suspicion brings on the final tragedy.”

Reel Writers Feedback, 2015



-“I loved the heart in which this story is told. The message of reforming a dissatisfied America is a pertinent and modern theme that is relevant in today’s turbulent world. LaPoma delivers this social commentary with conviction and honesty, his writing showcasing his legitimate passion for his subject matter. Especially in the strife-enveloped American we live in today, his call for people-minded reform has the potential to connect to the numerous social groups and like-minded thinkers whose presence in today’s world has only grown in the past few years.

However, I did also enjoy that this message of change did not have a Disney-esq ending. Just because you want something does not mean it will come true and not everyone is born with the strength of character to change the world, as shown most prominently in LaPoma’s piece through the journey of the character “Tracey” and his eventual succumbing to the flawed American system he preached against in his early years.

I also would like to mention how I enjoyed LaPoma’s portrayal of lower-class life early on in the script, as seen through the early life of “Tim”. Though it is not an earth shattering detail to examine, I thought that the way in which Tim’s difficult existence in Buffalo was presented in a realistic, but tasteful way. It showed real hardships in Tim’s life that would serve as a basis for his character and moral structure throughout the story, but did not describe the situation in a patronizing or an overly piteous manner (an easy rut to fall into when including such a subject).”

Cincinnati Film Festival Feedback, 2015


Screenwriting Awards Received:

  • Hollywood Screenplay Contest, 2014, Grand Jury Prize (Best Overall Screenplay)
  • Las Vegas Screenplay Contest, 2014, Grand Jury Prize (Best Overall Screenplay)
  • London Film Awards, 2015, Grand Prize Winner: Feature Screenplay Category
  • London Film Awards, 2014, Grand Prize Winner: Feature Screenplay Category
  • Awareness Film Festival, 2014, 1st Place
  • Las Vegas Screenplay Contest, 2014, 1st Place: Drama Category
  • West Field Screenwriting Awards, 2014, 1st Place: “The New York Award”
  • Los Angeles Screenplay Contest, 2015, 2nd Place: Drama Category
  • Chicago Screenplay Contest, 2014, 3rd Place: Drama Category 
  • Awareness Film Festival, 2015, 3rd Place
  • Rated SR – Socially Relevant Film Festival, 2014, Top Four Scripts 
  • California Film Awards, 2015, 5th Place
  • Indie Gathering Film Festival, 2014, Honorable Mention (for three scripts)
  • Indie Gathering Film Festival, 2013, Honorable Mention (for two scripts)
  • Barcelona International Film Festival, 2014, Honorable Mention
  • Canada International Film Festival, 2015, Honorable Mention
  • Mountain Film Festival, 2015, Honorable Mention
  • River Bend Film Festival, 2015, Top Three Finalist: Independent Screenplay
  • Category
  • WriteMovies 37, 2015, Finalist 
  • Los Angeles Screenplay Contest, 2015, Finalist
  • Beverly Hills Screenplay Contest, 2014, Finalist 
  • Extreme Screenplay Contest, 2015, Finalist
  • California Film Awards, 2015, Finalist
  • Aura Screenwriter Awards, 2015, Finalist
  • New York Screenplay Contest, 2015, Finalist
  • Women in Cinema International Screenplay Competition, 2015, Finalist
  • New York Screenplay Contest, 2014, Finalist
  • Barcelona International Film Festival, 2015, Finalist
  • Amsterdam Film Festival, 2015, Finalist
  • Buffalo Niagara Film Festival, 2015, Finalist
  • Beverly Hills Film Festival, 2015, Finalist
  • Beverly Hills Film Festival, 2014, Finalist
  • Twister Alley International Film Festival, 2015, Finalist
  • Table Read my Screenplay, 2014, Semifinalist 
  • Marquee Lights Competition, 2015, Semifinalist
  • Reel Writers, 2015, Semifinalist
  • Courier Awards, 2015, Semifinalist (for three scripts)
  • Aura Screenwriter Awards, 2015, Semifinalist
  • Oaxaca Film Festival, 2015, Official Selection (Top 12 Finalist)
  • Oaxaca Film Festival, 2014, Official Selection
  • BLOW UP Chicago International Arthouse Film Fest, 2015, Official Selection (for two scripts)
  • Sacramento International Film Festival, 2015, Official Selection
  • Sacramento International Film Festival, 2014, Official Selection 
  • Evolution Mallorca Film Festival, 2015, Official Selection (for two scripts)
  • San Francisco Global Movie Fest, 2015, Official Selection
  • The Monthly Film Festival, 2015, Official Selection (for two scripts)
  • Glendale International Film Festival, 2015, Official Selection
  • Glendale International Film Festival, 2014, Official Selection
  • Oaxaca Film Festival, 2013, Official Selection
  • Albuquerque Film Festival & Comic Con, 2015, Official Selection
  • Hollywood Sky International Film Festival, 2015, Official Selection (for two scripts)
  • WriteMovies 37, 2015, Quarterfinalist 
  • WriteMovies, 2013, Quarterfinalist (for three scripts)
  • Filmmakers International, 2013, Quarterfinalist 
  • Filmmakers International, 2013, Second-Round Qualifier
  • Filmmakers International, 2015, Second-Round Qualifier (for two scripts)