(via Special School District of St. Louis County September 26, 2022)

For the past eight years, students from across the District have anticipated a special visit from Springboard to Learning. The organization helps develop children’s abilities to create, collaborate, communicate, and think critically.

One of the ways this is achieved is through their Art of Story program, led by Teaching Artist Sherry Norfolk. During the month of September, Norfolk visited Litzsinger, Ackerman, and Southview schools. She acted out stories such as “Itsy Bitsy Spider,” “Five Little Monsters,” and “Coyote and Horned Lizard.” Students participated in the retelling of these stories and created their own stories, too.

“We just love Ms. Sherry,” said Ackerman Special Education Teacher Ellen Birch. “All of the stories were very interactive. They used scarfs, egg shakers, and sang nursery rhymes. There were a lot of manipulatives to keep the students engaged.”

“It benefits the students because it gives them a different perspective of storytelling,” said Suzy Provance, Southview elementary teacher. “They were excited, so we were excited as well.”

Norfolk has been a storyteller for over 40 years. She says that people are hard-wired for storytelling, which is why it is one of the most effective pathways for students to learn language, communication, and social skills.

“Storytelling allows instant response,” said Norfolk. “In a world of instant gratification, with students whose attention spans are limited and whose needs are incredibly diverse, the face-to-face, live performance art of storytelling allows me to observe the students and respond to them immediately through gestures and change of voice. Boredom is instantly detected and replaced with engagement. A bond is created.”

This is the first year Litzsinger Paraprofessional Courtney Carter has incorporated the program into her class. She would like to continue doing it every year.

“I think it’s an amazing experience,” said Carter. “They get to discover different kinds of stories and create arts and craft projects, which is fun. I think we should do it every year if possible. I love it.”

Springboard to Learning renewed their contract with John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, allowing them to continue bringing art-integrated programming to Missouri students with special needs.

“It is our absolute pleasure to be involved in this great partnership with SSD,” said Brenda Butler, Springboard to Learning’s program facilitation director.