Yesterday, May 25, I did a performance for a large group of 6th graders at a school south of Pittsburgh called Neil Armstrong Middle School. It's the end of the school year, so the kids were...excited, antsy, and vibrating like a unleveled washing machine on the spin cycle . (Literally, all rules of decorum seem to be straining and tearing when the calendar comes close to the end of the school year.) I wasn't worried though. They wanted to laugh, so I was funny. However, I wasn't quite expecting them to have the patience to let it go to a quieter more meaningful place. I was wrong. I'll let the reading teacher who booked me for the performance, Kim Rehak, explain how the performance turned out:
I just wanted to take a minute and thank you for the assembly you did today at Neil Armstrong Middle School. It was exactly what I was hoping for. I learned how to be a storyteller in college at Slippery Rock University and I am lucky enough to get to use it as I teach reading. As a kid who hated to read, it is kind of the family joke that I teach reading today. However, it is because of storytelling that I am a huge promoter of reading now. I try to teach kids that reading is so much more than words on a page. Utilizing a variety of voices and acting silly may not be for everyone but it can really entertain and hold the attention of many reluctant readers. Reading can take us to any place we want to go and be able to do anything. Not only did you send this message to our students today but you also hit a home run with the message of kindness. Our world can be a very scary and dangerous place. However, when you simply spread a little kindness, it really can be infectious. The month of May can get a bit rambunctious in schools but having you come today reminded me that no matter what we experience, there are lessons to learn and ways to grow. I hope all the students today got as much from your assembly as I did. I know many teachers were telling me that it was one of the best assemblies we have had and the kids were talking about it until the end of the day. Again, I appreciate you coming here and showcasing your talents and positive energy. Well worth it. I hope to have you back in the near future. Thanks again,
Kimberly M Rehak
Neil Armstrong Middle School
There's really no way for me to show you, through this blog page, what can happen when an audience is challenged to use their imaginations through a good story. These aren't paying audiences. They don't HAVE to listen.....but a silly turn of a phrase, an expressive face, a resounding voice spinning into a whisper, and years of experience with audiences of all ages make it possible to bend an ear that might even be resisting to hearing anything at all. That's my job, and I really appreciate Kim's kind words.
The Fall is going to come around quickly, and I'm already booking for 2018. If you are thinking you might have me perform at your school next year, now is a good time to give me a call. I look forward to hearing from you.