National Puppetry Festival-July 12, 2011

I submitted a workshop application for the National Puppetry Festival, held this year in Atlanta, July 12-17 and it was accepted. Since I think I started the only high school class devoted to all forms of puppetry in the United States, I wanted to share my knowledge with others who may be interested in keeping the craft alive by introducing puppetry to a younger generation. My workshop entitled “Puppetry Curriculum for Schools” will be about how to take existing state and local educational standards and combine that with a puppetry curriculum. My way to teaching puppetry was a bit roundabout. As an art teacher and gifted educator, I was able to infuse the making of puppets in the art classes, and the making and performing with puppets into the gifted curriculum. It did not go unnoticed by the powers that be in the school hierarchy that students were totally focused and engaged, and all “levels” of students worked side by side towards a common goal. I was actually approached by the Curriculum Director and the Assistant Superintendent of Schools and asked if I would be able to design and write a puppetry curriculum. For the last 6 years of my teaching career I had a viable puppetry program, packed to the rafters with students. Not only did they learn about shadow, hand, rod, and marionette puppets, they made them, wrote scripts and performed and were filmed. I also had a puppet troupe who regularly performed 6-8 shows a year, commissioned by the community, and local elementary schools. They also competed in the local Teen Arts Festival, would win on the local level and went to the state levels. In fact, a former art student of mine is now the puppetry teacher and the puppet troupe is preparing their show for the local Teen Arts Festival on March 17th. My first head puppeteer who accompanied me to two National Puppetry Festivals, is now a student at the University of Connecticut’s Puppetry and Acting program (he is a dual major by choice).
My workshop will cover strategies on developing programs, set out guidelines, timelines, and will show how to actually write a curriculum that will satisfy the academic side, but will thrill students and introduce them to a craft with a distinguished history, especially in American Television.

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