By Stacey Volland, Education And Outreach Associate, Curriculum Specialist
Sadly, my time at the Paramount Theatre is coming to an end. So, before I cry, here are my top ten highlights from working in the Education and Outreach department over the past 4 wonderful years!
10) Happy Bright- Pierce and I spent AGES working on this giant lady monster. It was all worth it when the kids went WILD during her first Story Wrangler appearance in Monster, Fairy, Unicorn Party at Reilly Elementary School!
9) Dodo and Unicorn at Camp Story Wranglers– Dodo and Unicorn is one of my favorite Story Wrangler sketches to date! It was so great, that we invited our young writers to help us revive it for our public performance on the Paramount stage! (It’s not too late to register for Camp Story Wranglers 2013!)
8) Creative Drama- Teaching Creative Drama with Pierce every summer has been a BLAST. Crossing Crocodile Rivers, rescuing princesses, hiding from giants, or uncovering secret doors in search of lost treasures… It’s enough to make even the older campers jealous of our adventures! My favorite memory from these classes was when Pierce dressed up as a fairy panicking over his lost fairy friends, in a high pitched voice. All the kids went on a hunt around the theatre in search of fairies (Which were actually glow sticks). Once we collected them all, we turned out all the lights and had a glow stick dance party with all the fairies to Katy Perry-Firework. SO FUN!
7) The Story Wrangler Public Show– My turn to perform on the Paramount stage finally came this year! Even better, it was to share a handful of my favorite Story Wrangler sketches written by some of the most creative students ever! My family even flew out from Florida to see the show!
5) Story Wrangler Rehearsals– Even if we are rehearsing until 10:30PM and then teaching again at 8:00AM this process is FUN! I absolutely adore the Story Wranglers ensemble. Bringing our students’ stories to life with this group of people is so awesome that I would love to continue to work with this program next year.
4) Teaching The TEKS Through Theatre (T5)- Chad and I are always popping in and out of role, playing with puppets, singing songs, and just being silly with the kids. (Sometimes I think he and I might be having even more fun than the students.) My favorite lesson this year was about the water cycle at Pickle Elementary. I went into role as Mr. Drop, a ukulele playing water droplet that has been through the water cycle for thousands of years! At the end of our residency, students were STILL singing the Water Cycle Song!
3) After School Magic Show– Pierce and I once performed an after-school magic show in a partnership with BeeHive. I wore a wizard robe, hat, and a long white beard. Pierce, who was in role as my assistant, wore a long blonde wig and a sparkly dress. In between all of our real tricks, Pierce insisted on performing some tricks of his own. The best was when he told the students he was going to disappear! He asked the kids to close their eyes and count to three. He darted behind a curtain and yelled, “Open your eyes!” The kids opened their eyes and from behind the curtain he called, “I’ve disappeared!” The kids were… not impressed. I could barely get to the next trick because I was doubled over in laughter.
2) Literacy to Life– Four years ago I got a call to help teach a creative writing program called Literacy to Life. This was my first ever experience working with the Education and Outreach Department at the Paramount. It has completely inspired me as a teaching artist. Seeing kids supporting each other and working together to bring their stories to life in the classroom is INCREDIBLE. Some students really come out of their shells. I have to say my favorite story ever was a poem about how my hair smells like Cheerios. How sweet!
1) Students– These kids really know how to make you feel like a rock star. The way they cheer for you when you enter the room and groan when it is time to leave is so special. (How do I get my peers to feel the same?) I am absolutely in love with the students I have gotten the pleasure of working with. They have brought so much happiness and light into the work that we do. One memory I will carry with me forever was after one of my preshow workshops. A teacher stopped me in the hall and said her kids had told her they wanted to be just like me when they grew up. They wanted her to ask me what I went to school for and how they could get a job like I had… WOW!
So there are the top ten highlights. It has been so exciting to see the change and growth of this department over the past four years. I’m excited to see how it continues to grow in the future. To end this post, I’d like to thank my team.
Jenn- Thank you for believing in me, trusting me with more responsibility, and giving me opportunity to learn and grow as a teaching artist.
Chad- Thanks for being my other half in the classrooms during T5, showing students that learning is fun and exciting, and being a huge problem-solver!
Pierce- Thank you for always making me laugh while we work. You have inspired me as a performer and teacher for the last four years. There’s a reason you’re all over my top ten!