Louisiana Story Fest Residency Day 9


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LA Story Fest Paddlewheel Boat 2-28-08

Friends:

It has been a wonderful two weeks visiting all the classrooms of the school where I am the teaching artist-in-residence. I feel like I have truly made deep connections with the students and the teachers.

Today was bittersweet, because it was so wonderful and because it was my last day to visit the classes. My day couldn’t have gone any better if I had planned it that way. My second grade class was as sweet as sugar cane! They had a blast listening to “Pulling Up the Sweet Potato” and “The Cajun Cornbread Boy.” Then we did a cumulative round game that I wrote called “Pile It on the Pie A Mile High.” The students had to think of Louisiana foods to add to the top of the pie as the song went on. It was so much fun because we made mistakes! What a beautiful bunch of children!

My third grade class was fabulously prepared. Their teacher worked with them on the side to rehearse. And it showed. They were so prepared, working completely without their scripts! Their performance is going to ROCK! I can’t wait to see it! Great job, Ms. G (my fellow chocoholic)!

My fourth grade class (the very same one that was a huge challenge the other day) did a great job with their rehearsal. I was such a joy to see the students finally working together to create a piece of which they could be proud. There are a lot of chatter boxes but this class is full of bright, creative children who can accomplish a lot when they put their minds to it. One of my most challenging students (the one who received a behavior report the other day) shone “on stage” when she performed. It gave me goosebumps to see her succeed like that. Afterwards, she hugged me and asked me when I was coming back to the class. It was one of those “Wow” moments.

Today was the school’s Black History luncheon. All the teachers contributed a dish. Talk about delicious! I strayed from my healthy eating habits to splurge on lunch – fried chicken, the creamiest homemade mac-n-cheese, spinach artichoke dip, and the most delectable cabbage and smoked sausage casserole! I really felt like part of the family, laughing at the table with my new friends and sharing their food.

After lunch, I saw Pre-K. What a delightful group of students!!!!! (Ms. S – you are a rockin’ teacher!) The children, teachers, and I had the best time! After I told “The Cajun Cornbread Boy,” one of the students nicknamed me “Cayenne Dianne.” It was hilarious. We laughed so hard that my stomach hurt and my make-up ran. It was one of those moments filled with abundant joy. I love laughing so hard that it sounds like your soul is bubbling to the top. Thank you, Ms. S and Ms. L for a “spicy” time!

My fifth grade class did a great job with their rehearsal. They still needed some direction but, over all, they were fine. Afterward, we even had time for a little fun and played “Pile It on the Pie A Mile High.” I look forward to their performance tomorrow!

The teacher who wrote the grant to bring me to the school filled out an evaluation form for me for another grant I am working on. This is what she said (it brought tears to my eyes)… It was one of the highlights of my day!

“Dianne has been able to captivate our students from three year olds to fifth graders. Her age-appropriate stories have sparked creativity across all grade levels. The teachers have stopped me in the halls to thank me for making sure she was in our grant! They have been very impressed by her abilities.”

But I have to say that my favorite part of the day was receiving a gift from today’s second grade class. I was moved to tears by their gift. Look at this card – the grapes are made with the students’ fingerprints!

LA Story Fest - Thanks a Bunch Card 2-28-08

The students wrote letters to accompany the humongous card they gave me. And the letters weren’t form letters either – they came from the students’ hearts! Ms. K – you have class!! (pun totally intended… LOL) Here are some of the letters:

“Dear Ms. Dianne, thank you for coming to our school. I loved the Cornbread Boy. I enjoyed the Sweet Potato Story. My favorite part in the Cornbread Boy story was ‘a jump, a skip, and a hop.’ Also, I was fond of dancing with the scarves. I like when we were putting our scarves down and up. I hope you can come back to our class. Love, Mikala”

“Dear Ms. Dianne, Thank you for coming to our school. I liked the cockroach story. I liked the cockroach story because it was funny. Also, I enjoyed Cornbread Boy. I loved the part when the cornbread boy did a triple back flip off of the alligator’s head. I hope you can come back next year and join us again. Love, Vernay”

“Dear Ms. Dianne, Thank you Ms. Dianne for coming to our class. I enjoyed the Pile it on the Pie song. I liked it when it started getting confusing. Also, I loved when you said, Run run as fast as you can! You can’t catch me, I’m full of cayenne. I hope you come back next year. I hope you keep writing stories. Sincerely, Tanlon”

“Dear Ms. Dianne, Thank you for the two fun days. I enjoyed the cockroach story because you sneezed on us. Also, I liked dancing with the scarves. My favorite part was going in circles. We hope you come back next year. Love, Hallie P.S. You smell like vanilla ice cream.”

and one that truly tickled me…

“Dear Ms. Dianne, Thank you for the good times. I loved the cockroach story. I liked when you sneezed on people. Also, I enjoyed dancing with the scarves when we had to bring the scarves up. I hope you can come back next year. What do you take a bath with? I love you. Love, Dwayne”

A side note: Students in all of my classes have been commenting, “You smell so good, Ms. Dianne.” The students have told me that I smell like cotton candy, blueberries, vanilla, strawberries, ice cream, and vanilla ice cream! It’s so funny!

It’s nearly 2:30 am and I have a big day tomorrow — my third, fourth, and fifth graders perform! Yay! Lower grades and parents will be watching. I have been up late preparing treats for my students (autographed pictures and medals or friendship bracelets in pretty bags) and teachers. The students who perform without a script will receive a special treat from me. I hope I have to give out every treat bag! Wish my students luck! 🙂

Until next time… Happy Tales to You!

Warmly, Dianne