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Stories helping children learn ‘personal heritage’




Kentucky roster artist Angelyn DeBord works with children in the Jenkins School System.

Kentucky roster artist Angelyn DeBord works with children in the Jenkins School System.

Kentucky roster artist Angelyn DeBord is conducting a storytelling residency at Burdine Elementary and McRoberts Elementary School through the month of November. The residency is sponsored by the Kentucky Arts Council and the 21st Century Community Learning Centers After School Program, and focuses on the importance of being able to tell stories with pride and confidence.

DeBord says, “In these fastchanging times, with the influx of mass media, I feel it is very important for students to recognize and appreciate their valuable personal heritage. By emphasizing the dramatic elements inherit in oral tradition, I encourage storytelling as a single or group activity. The language and imagery from each individual’s culture is preserved and adds to the depth and richness of the story. Rather than applying extra information, students are given time and an opportunity to explore information they already have: folktales and their family stories.

“Students will leave this class with listening and storytelling skills and an understanding of how to break a story down into characters, setting and action,” she says. “The students themselves will become more confident speakers and discover much of their personal heritage. These stories offer a wealth of learning opportunities. I believe that discovering that our own personal stories, our own visions and images are worth honing and sharing help us develop confidence and self esteem. This confidence and self-esteem will, hopefully, be reflected throughout the educational curriculum. Over and over the children and I state how story sharing is an imagination celebration!”

Jennifer Malan, 21st CCLC director, said, “We are all very excited to have Angie working with our kids. She is a wonderfully creative person and encourages the kids to express their creativity. It is great to watch a student who is normally quiet get up and sing a song or get excited about telling a story about their grandpa.”

Jan Tackett, Jenkins Independent Schools director of curriculum, supports bringing artists like DeBord into the schools. She says, “Like so many other traditions, front porch gatherings are almost extinct. Our ancestors passed on so much of their heritage through songwriting and storytelling during that time when the family and neighbors gathered together to relax. With the Internet and iPods’ kids are losing touch with these traditions. Having someone in to rekindle this almost lost art is essential for the traditions of our area to continue.”

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