Art is a powerful tool for communicating messages. Photographs give an important visual reference. Paintings and sculptures offer the opportunity to dig more deeply into the feelings of the message. Theater, however, is a natural vehicle for storytelling. It is what we do every day.

Sue Bear, a playwright from the Boston area, visited us last week to introduce theater techniques as a vehicle for voicing emotions, concerns, and messages. Sue worked primarily with Deep Creek Middle School, collaborating with DCMS English Teacher Sophia Smith, and led workshops to help students strengthen theatrical presence as they read and study plays.

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I realized that Sue Bear was my experiential-learning professional development in the English classroom without even intending to be. She left me with a wealth of new skills, renewed joy, and energy to make drama in the classroom. She had an amazing way with the kids too. The 9th graders, particularly, opened up like cocoons in her presence.
— Sophia Smith

At the Early Learning Center, students continued their work on Green Sea Turtle shadow puppets, inspired by Balinese shadow puppet theater. Sue helped the older students tell an evocative story about Green Sea Turtles and Seagrass. To include all students, ages 2-9, Sue directed a short play about the importance of Parrotfish for a healthy coral reef ecosystem. Parrotfish, Hermit Crabs, Grouper and Coral danced together in telling the story of “Nicky the Parrotfish” who eats loads of algae and makes the whole reef happy. 

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For a CEI Professional Development Seminar, Sue shared theater techniques and tips on stage presence that are valuable to researchers when presenting their work. Sue’s goal was to provide tools that allow individuals to express their passion for a subject and deliver an imaginative and thoughtful presentation to a broad audience. 

There are truly no words to describe the facets of this experience: Working with Sophia and the DCMS students, playing, exploring and learning about each other, briefly glimpsing and exchanging stories with teachers… The Early Learning Center will replay like a cherished movie clip and make me smile… The opportunity to challenge and share with interns and faculty… This is a continuing story, we had the introduction, the first chapter is now complete and there is so much more.
— Sue Bear
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After Sue left, the first question the 9th graders asked was, “Where’s Ms. Sue Bear?”. That is exactly how I feel too, “Where is Ms. Sue Bear?” It is my hope that Sue returns soon to again liven up my English classroom with her warmth and love. 
— Sophia Smith
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Sue holds a Masters in Theater Arts Education and Community from Emerson College. Sue is also familiar to The Island School as proud parent to Wyatt Hill SP15 and Jessie Hill SP18. Sue most recently produced Bloggers Unplugged to sold-out crowds in Somerville, MA. She currently has three works in progress, including Sophie’s Masterpiece, a children’s musical set for staging in the Fall of 2018.