Sitting in a wooden chair, he turns the pages of a Dr. Seuss picture book filled with rhymes, imagination, and creativity. Passion and reminiscence permeate his voice as he examines the inventive fishes and characters that are depicted in McElligot’s Pool.
“Oh, the sea is so full of a number of fish, if a fellow is patient, he might get his wish. And that’s why I think that I am not such a fool when I sit here and fish McElligot’s Pool,” reads Upper Campus Head of School Craig Floyd as he closed the book that his grandmother read to him when he was a child.
Welcome to the newest version of the Upper Campus Storytelling Elective.
For the past three weeks, as OVS has implemented remote learning in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Upper Campus librarian Devyn Reynolds has set out to keep alive her connection to the OVS community by creating a virtual interpretation of her storytelling elective.
In March of the 2018-19 school year, Ms. Reynolds and a handful of students participated in Read Across America, a holiday in celebration of children’s author Dr. Seuss. Twice a semester, Upper Campus students traveled down to the Lower Campus to read stories to the elementary students as part of a celebration of the written word.
But with the suspension in mid-March of traditional on campus classes, and school activities such as electives and sports, Ms. Reynolds sought to find a way to make sure her storytelling program kept going strong.
“With us being in distance learning, I thought it’d be great to try to continue that tradition of connecting to the Lower Campus,” Ms. Reynolds said.
By sending a Google folder to the Upper Campus faculty and students, Ms. Reynolds invited members of the OVS community to submit a video of them reciting their most cherished picture book. The videos will eventually be viewed by the elementary students during their library lessons with Lower Campus Librarian Ashlee Nishiya.
“The first step is finding a book,” Ms. Reynolds explained. “There is a Google folder shared with faculty and students that they can upload to. Then, Mrs. Nishiya having access to that folder can use the videos in her library lessons and be distributed to the [Lower Campus] students as they wish.”
Teachers Christopher Westcott and Fred Alvarez, Head of Upper Campus Mr. Floyd, and senior Jolene Fan have all uploaded some of their favorite children’s stories and are excited to share them with the Lower school.
“I decided to turn in a story because being home reminded me of my childhood and how I used to love to read,” said Jolene. “I wanted to contribute because I remembered how I used to love these stories and I wanted to share some of them with the OVS community. Also, it gives me something to do other than sit around in my house all day.”
The main objective for Ms. Reynolds with her storytelling elective is to eliminate the isolation between the two schools and now, the isolation of quarantine as well.
“Virtual storytelling gives you a moment to disconnect from all the worries that we have and just enjoy a fantasy world for a little bit,” said Ms. Reynolds. “And also, have the memories from when you were a child reading this book and come back and think about how you can pass it on to others as well that are also part of your community.
Ms. Reynolds and the rest of the OVS community are excited to see new ways of interaction amongst the students and faculty carrying on the strong sense of community.
“We have all learned in all of this that even though we are not physically in the same room with each other, we still have all these resources available to us letting us connect,” explained Ms. Reynolds.
Like Jolene and Ms. Reynolds, Mr. Westcott is eager to see what the virtual aspect of remote learning adds to the OVS community. Mr. Westcott hopes the virtual storytelling adds more resources to the Lower Campus and broadens the opportunity to learn for all students.
“The stories I read are for fun, to create a moment to think about life, or just to expand the imagination,” said Mr. Westcott. “What is meaningful to me in these stories is not always what is meaningful to you, or to others, but that is part of their beauty.”Share