The Art of Storytelling

On the morning of November 20, an animated group of speakers awaited Lower Schoolers, each of whom was a member of Chapin’s professional community.

Following a lovely piano melody played by Lower School music teacher Eddie Wiernik to welcome everyone into the Zoom room, Lower School Arts Integrator Sarah Bellantoni said, “We are SO excited for our Assembly today, which is all about storytelling!”

“You can learn so much more about someone just by listening to the stories they tell,” Ms. Bellantoni continued, explaining that each speaker would share a special story from their own life.

To kick off the Assembly, two Class 3 students appeared center screen to introduce the first special guest, Head of School Suzanne Fogarty, whose story was titled “Shooting Star.”

“I’m so honored to be going first,” Ms. Fogarty began, going on to discuss her love of reading and writing that began at a young age. She explained that she always had stories growing in her head.

“A quote from E.M. Forster really stuck with me. How do I know what I think until I see what I say?” Thus, as a young girl she began to put a pen to paper and brought her ideas to life. She even gave those in attendance a glimpse at her very first diary – one she has kept for over thirty years!

The next storyteller was Jonathan Talbot, Class 2 Head teacher, who regaled a cautionary tale of when he was in 1st grade and got stuck inside of locker! “The locker was jammed. My body tensed up, it was dark and I was screaming like a monkey in a cage!”

The audience laughed together and, thankfully, found out his Computer Science teacher came to his rescue and helped him to escape.

Next up to the virtual stage was Xiomara Hall, Director of Enrollment Management and Director of Middle and Upper School Admissions, who told a heart-warming story of her first group of friends called “The Backyard Adventurers.”

She spoke of their spirited activities, such as playing wildlife safari with their pets, writing plays and performing them for parents, and playing in the garden.

“We supported each other through joyful, sad and challenging moments. They prepared me for adventure for the rest of my life!” she concluded.

A story about a scary subway ride was told by Class 1 Head Teacher Kathleen Man. When she was only six years old, Ms. Man stepped onto a packed subway car. Ding! The subway doors closed behind her as she quickly discovered her mom wasn’t on the train!

She got off at the next platform and, after a few heart-racing minutes, saw her mom running towards her! “I hugged her tight and did not let her go,” Ms. Man said. “This is why it’s important to always have a plan!”

Lower School Associate Teacher Hannah Zalsos shared a lively story called “My Dog Woody,” and Class 3 Head teacher Soo Kim read “High in the Sky,” a tale about her first time paragliding. She even included a slideshow of her own illustrations to enhance her account.

The final storyteller, Lower School Spanish Teacher Maestra Rosado, offered a humorous story about her journey learning English. With characters drawn on her fingers, she switched the tone of her voice to depict her mom, dad or hers. “It was difficult and I didn’t always understand,” she said. After graduating from college, Maestra Rosado “took improv classes to practice. I accepted the challenge to get better and I’m still learning!”

By the end of the Assembly, there was a cheerful and warm energy that radiated through the virtual room. Each story set a wonderful example for the young scholars who would be participating in their very own story share in their classrooms the following week. “I hope you had lots of inspiration this morning!” said Lower School Librarian Christina Kover.

The Lower Schoolers offered their brave speakers a round of applause and began to make their exits with wide smiles and minds surely full of their own extraordinary stories to tell.