How Do We Get A Little “Mary” Into Our School Days?

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of seeing our school‘s last performance of Mary Poppins. Thanks to the terrific direction by Michelle Fawcett and Janet Raymond, not to mention various other educators throughout the years, Rousseau has been putting on musicals every other year for the past 10 years. Before I even started teaching at Rousseau, I used to go and see these performances. I still remember The Little Mermaid and The Lion King, and how blown away I was by the talent of the students and the support of the community.

Now though, I get the pleasure of seeing these musicals through the eyes of an educator that knows many of the student performers. And it’s this different perspective, which has caused me to do a lot of thinking since the curtain went down last night.

I’ll admit that I continue to be amazed by the singing, dancing, and acting skills of these students, but I also realized that for some of these students, Mary Poppins changed their view of school … and for the better! 

  • Imagine seeing the child that struggles with reading and writing, but beautifully expresses herself through song.
  • Imagine listening to a parent share how her daughter is too shy to talk in public (including at school), but is a shining star on stage.
  • Imagine seeing even the youngest of performers capture the audience through their words and actions, and wondering, do their in-class contributions capture others in the same positive way?

This Mary Poppins performance had me thinking about the Kindergarten Program Document, and how The Arts (i.e., visual arts, music, drama, and dance) are viewed as languages: different ways that children can express themselves. This makes me think about the 100 Languages of Children. 

I wonder how we could support these languages even more across the grades. How might we view those struggling children differently if they were able to express themselves in different ways? Would they still be seen “struggling” after all? I can’t help but reflect back on a recent blog post by Kristi Keery-Bishop, where she discusses some of her scheduling woes. Might a more integrated approach provide even more of the wonderful that I had the pleasure of seeing last night? My tuba playing days of years ago and my singing voice of today will guarantee that I will never be able to do what Michelle, Janet, Laura, and others did last night, but I’d still like to support kids in expressing themselves as our student performers did.

For some kids, these kinds of opportunities, give them a different, more positive view of themselves, and even change how others view them. Don’t all of our children deserve that? Our Board tagline emphasizes curiosity, creativity, and possibilityThis kind of Arts integration definitely supports the latter two, if not all three, goals. How do we provide these rich, Arts opportunities in a school setting, and what impact might this have on kids and their learning? I think that all children deserve to feel as proud, confident, and accomplished as the Mary Poppins actors and actresses felt every night that the curtain went up.


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