WTS Residency Program Success Story:
Castle Heights Elementary
When both WTS staff and educators return from a residency using words like "awesome", "amazing", "wonderful", and "thank you" - with lots of exclamation points - you know you have something exciting to talk about!
In 2008, We Tell Stories returned to Castle Heights Elementary for a third year with our ACPN theatre/literacy residency program, called Open Court Plus. Core WTS member and Workshop Artist Linda Miller said, "We've become collaborators. They know us and we know them, so there's this wonderful shorthand between us. We were able to customize this year's program to give the teachers brand-new tools for the classroom."
The result? Wonderful leaps forward for many Castle Heights students, ranging from those who are in English as a Second Language (ESL) classes, to Special Ed students, to those in gifted classes. According to WTS Workshop Artist Michelle Simek, "I witnessed each group of kids make their own unique breakthrough. In an ESL class, one student miraculously remembered all of his lines. In Special Ed, a non-verbal child was able to repeat the lines and really get into character. I cried...in a good way! And the advanced kids took one game and just ran with it. I had so many 'wow' moments this year."
Castle Heights educators were equally thrilled with the experience. As 2nd grade teacher Charmaine Colina put it, "Thank you for these tools - they are a life-saver...good for the English Language Development (ELD) kids and shy kids. I think the comprehension level was definitely raised with all the activities. Amazing." Educational Programs Director, Joyce Lee couldn't agree more, "Amazing results - that's what we are aiming for!"
"This program was awesome! ...Students that usually have poor comprehension
excelled with We Tell Stories. They were able to recall series of
events and shine in class. Wonderful! Thank you!"
-Kristen Bromley, Education Specialist, Grades 2-5, Castle Heights Elementary
Meet our new Staff Members!
We Tell Stories welcomes Joyce Lee, Educational Programs Director, Betsy Oltmann, Director of Development, and Jamie Hebert, Administrative Assistant to our growing team!
Joyce Lee comes to WTS from Enrichment Works where she was the Arts Education Director for four years. Prior experience includes Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Youth Arts Academy where she was an Associate Director, and New Federal Theatre at Henry Street Settlement, both in New York. For 17 years, she was a teaching artist for the Lincoln Center Institute.
In late February, Joyce jumped in where Aaron Henne left off and embarked upon a busy We Tell Stories school season, overseeing the completion of a record 62 school partnerships in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Joyce recalls, “The phone didn’t stop ringing until mid-May when school coordinators were still scheduling residencies in their schools. It was very exciting.”
On the development side, Betsy Oltmann brings a wealth of experience to WTS. With an extensive background in non-profit development, Betsy has managed several Bay Area organizations serving children and families. Combining a love of the arts with her expertise is the ideal scenario for Betsy: “I’m a little star-struck by all of the talent at WTS. I am thrilled to be working with creative people who so skillfully share their artistic craft.”
Betsy looks forward to strengthening corporate and community partnerships for WTS. “We Tell Stories has been a mainstay of the Los Angeles arts education community. I hope to expand our ability to make a difference in the lives of children all over the Southland.”
We Tell Stories is also thrilled to introduce Jamie Hebert to our full-time staff. Jamie can do just about anything - and does! In addition to being an administrative guru, Jamie is an actor, dancer and trumpet player. His theatre background combined with his passion for organization makes him the perfect fit for WTS. Since our office expansion last February, Jamie has worked to make the space functional, beautiful...and as "green" as possible!
Join us as we "Catch the Reading Bug"
at Culver City Julian Dixon Library!
We Tell Stories is back for another fun-filled Summer Residency at the Culver City Julian Dixon
Library with the series: "Catch the Reading Bug!" These free performances are made possible in part by a grant from the Culver City Arts in Public Places Fund, with support from the Sony Pictures Entertainment Platinum Sponsorship.
Bringing laughter and literature to young audiences, WTS performs Wednesdays at 2 pm each week, through August 27th. Upcoming July performances include:
- What's a Straddlebug? Tales by American Writers - July 9
- The Lion, The Gnat & The Elephant, from Aesop's Fables - July 16
- Potato Bug Country, from Carl Sandburg - July 23
- The Spider and The Fly, Stories in Poetry - July 30
WTS will also present three
traditional Fiesta La Ballona story-plays in August to celebrate the
heritage of Culver City.
Check our website Public Calendar for more details and August dates! www.wetellstories.org/public_calendar.htm
Lummis Day plus Save-the-Dates
for Tri-Arts, Harvest Fest & WTS Fundraiser!
On June 1st, WTS participated in the 3rd Annual Lummis Day Festival at Sycamore Grove Park in Highland Park. Lummis Day celebrates the art and culture of Northeast LA. This year, the organizers of Lummis Day added family programming to the schedule of events.
WTS performed the Trunk Show "Proud To Be Me" in the Family Stage area, along with The Puppets & Players Little Theatre, Puppets Tramp Across the Continent, Los Chilitos, Lou Pugliese and the Good Shepherd School After-School Music Program.
Marketing Director, Lisa Grissom said, "We were thrilled to be involved in what is becoming a destination festival for Northeast LA. It's a culturally rich event that appeals to all ages."
Festival organizer Rosamaria Marquez, of Rock Rose Productions, echoed the enthusiasm: "We really took it up a notch by inaugurating a family stage. Our commitment to youth programming isn't haphazard - we look forward to an even larger youth program next summer!"
For more info on Lummis Day: http://www.lummisday.org/
UPCOMING EVENTS: SAVE-THE-DATES!
On September 14th, We Tell Stories will perform at the Tri-Arts Festival in San Pedro at the Warner Grand Theatre. The festival is made possible by the Department of Cultural Affairs. For more information, visit: http://www.triartfestival.com/default.asp
OCTOBER will be an exciting month for We Tell Stories, so mark your calendars! First up, on October 6th, WTS will present a Haunted Harvest Evening, a fundrasing event to benefit the organization. WTS will perform, along with a silent auction and other surprises. Founder Carl Weintraub will host at the Firefly Restaurant in South Pasadena.
Then, on October 28th, the 2nd Annual Haunted Harvest Storytelling Festival will take place at the Old LA Farmer's Market in Highland Park. WTS will perform, along with several guest artists. Attractions include a costume contest, pumpkin carving contest and face painting. We promise FREE Halloween fun for all ages!
Check our web-site for upcoming details!
“...Thank you Ms. Jesse for teaching me how to act. It
makes me feel happy. And the lessons were fun. How to do theater...that
was my favorite part. Thank you!"
Letter from 3rd Grader to Teaching Artist, Jesse Bliss
“Dear Ms. Linda, ...I am so glad you were able to work with our
class. I wish all of the classes were for one year, and I also wish we
had a machine to rewind to take a class again!!"
Letter from 4th Grader to Teaching Artist, Linda Miller
WTS provides Assembly Performances, Student Workshops, Professional Development & more!
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We want to hear from you!
Please share your thoughts, ideas or comments
by emailing us at: email@example.com
"Dear Mrs. Iketani,
I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to you for your wonderful theatre lessons. I learned so much about eliciting responses to literature through drama. I enjoyed...watching my students become more and more engaged in the process. I'm sure I will use the techniques you presented in future comprehension lessons..."
-Letter from 3rd Grade Teacher to Teaching Artist, Denise Iketani