April 11, 2012 COPY BY: Rana McDonald, 806-651-2129, email@example.com
WTAMU’s Showcase in a Suitcase Provides Opportunities for Panhandle Schools
CANYON, Texas—Paula Schlegel loves to tell stories, and she’s sharing her storytelling skills with students from Texline to Follett through the Showcase in a Suitcase program at West Texas A&M University.
Schlegel, a part-time instructor in the Department of Communication at WTAMU, is one of several faculty members using the Showcase in a Suitcase program to share exciting educational opportunities with students across the Panhandle. The program is funded through the David D. and Nona S. Payne Foundation and offers cultural and fine arts experiences not readily or easily available to many school districts and communities in the Panhandle region.
On Friday, April 13, Schlegel will travel to Texline to present two storytelling concerts at Texline Elementary. The first concert will be for grades two and three. A second concert will be for grades four and five, followed by a special storytelling workshop. Lessons learned at the workshop will be reinforced with activities and practice over the next few weeks and will culminate in a special fourth and fifth grade storytelling concert in May.
“The human connection with storytelling is very powerful,” Schlegel said. “The stories teach lessons, bring life to history and transport the listener to a whole new world—all without the use of technology. The stories are fun and reinforce lessons learned in class, and the students enjoy it so much they don’t even realize it is a learning experience.”
So far the Showcase in a Suitcase program has provided exciting learning experiences for students in Perryton, Dalhart, Booker, Pampa and Hereford. The experiences often benefit the community as well with community presentations that follow Showcase in a Suitcase workshops.
“I wanted to expose our students to storytellers in the Panhandle area that would inspire them to write in a meaningful manner,” Kendra Martin, Texline teacher, said. “Paula has many great concert options from testing strategies to local tales, and we are very excited to host her.”
Schlegel has used her storytelling skills in schools, churches, community centers and campgrounds. She has performed at the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum’s annual Christmas Open House since 2005 as well as the Regional Red Hat Convention in Amarillo and the Tejas Storytelling Festival in 2011 and 2012 in Denton. She is a member of the Storytellers of the High Plains and the Tejas Storytelling Association. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Northwestern State University and a master’s degree from WTAMU, where she teaches public speaking, gender communication and persuasion.