Deepened engagement through drama
The Owen J. Roberts Artist-In-Residence Program allows students to work side-by-side with professional artists. North Coventry Elementary School welcomed James McCarthy the week of Oct. 3, thanks to the generous sponsorship by the school’s parent/teacher organization. McCarthy— an accomplished songwriter, vocalist, instrumentalist, actor, and storyteller — worked with North Coventry grades 4 and 5 on a project called “A BETTER PLACE: Developing Bravery and Kindness through Drama.” McCarthy, who has a master’s degree from Harvard and an MFA from University of Hawaii, is acknowledged as a Master Teaching Artist by the state of Hawaii and has worked with thousands of school-age children using deepened engagement strategies. His teaching tools balance imaginative expression with focused observation, reflection and inquiry. “Drama can be a way to look at things that are really true in human nature,” McCarthy informed a group of fourth-grade students as he led them through the dynamics of acting out a tableau. “In fact,” he explained, “drama might even demonstrate the humor of being human.” Students worked in small groups on both individual skills and team skills as McCarthy invited them to model motionless figures in a scene he described. McCarthy also facilitated professional development on Oct. 10 for North Coventry. “Both my students and I enjoyed working with James. I always enjoy learning from other educators,” said fourth-grade teacher Kelly Beaver.