Area Schools Learn Arts Integration From “Lion King” Broadway Group

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By Maya Pottiger

County teachers had the opportunity this summer to do a professional development workshop with a group of Disney teaching artists connected to the Broadway production of “The Lion King.”

On June 19, teachers from Lake Shore, Riviera Beach and five other county schools made the trip to New York City for a day of puppetry workshops.

“We like to do something outside of the schoolhouse in the summertime for some of the teachers to further educate them and provide them with further professional development,” said Lake Shore Principal Julie Little-McVearry.

Lacey Sheppard, an arts integration specialist, organized the opportunity. Working outside of the school with professional theater experts allows for a different professional development environment than what is usually offered during the school year, Sheppard said.

“They got to see the real life application of the art form,” Sheppard said. “From there, teachers can draw their conclusions of how they would use this in the classroom. I think it presented a different perspective.”

During the workshops, the teachers learned how puppetry can be used as a communication tool, and more specifically, how it is used to portray a character’s actions and emotions. Both Sheppard and Little-McVearry immediately started brainstorming ways puppetry could be translated into the classroom across all subjects.

Math teachers can use puppets to talk about proportion, perspective and scale, as well as the physics behind them and the STEM component of engineering the puppets, Sheppard said. When learning how to summarize, students can use the puppets to act out scenes, Little-McVearry said.

“I think it will vary from teacher to teacher, but both in elementary and middle school, I really do see the skills that they learned easily adapted to their content areas,” Sheppard said.

One of Sheppard’s goals is to expose arts integration teachers to different art forms so they can be both appreciators and consumers of art in their personal and professional lives.

“Part of my goal is to really provide opportunities to teachers that they might not have had otherwise and then tie it in with that educational component,” Sheppard said.

In addition to gaining skills to implement in the upcoming 2019-2020 school year, the day of travel provided a unique opportunity for arts integration teachers to collaborate with one another across schools.

“We were able to be with people that we normally aren’t with, and the sharing of ideas is one of the greatest things that teachers can do to learn from one another,” Little-McVearry said. “I loved having this opportunity to do that.”

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