Stedwick Opera Puts Students in Control (Video & Photos)
The teachers walked through the audience at the beginning of the opera and took their seats at the back of the room, leaving the third grade students at Stedwick Elementary School in Montgomery Village to put on the premiere of their show on their own.
This was the end of a year-long learning process in Mary Ruth McGinn’s classroom at Stedwick, a unique project-based class approach where students learn all of their required coursework through putting on an original opera.
MyMCMedia’s Valerie Bonk has the story on premiere of “Back on Track,” and how McGinn’s approach to teaching is helping local children gain confidence.
It’s been a long journey for students in Mary Ruth McGinn’s classroom. But after ten snow days and students moving away, the cast and crew of “Back on Track” got their production back on track, putting on an original opera in front of a crowded room of parents, students and local leaders.
“One hundred and fifty nine work days to be exact. The kids figured that out. That was their first math problem the first day of school,” said Stedwick teacher Mary Ruth McGinn following the opera premiere. “I was in tears today because when you work so hard it’s like this gradual release of responsibility where you’re holding hands at the beginning of the year, holding hands tightly and then little by little you’re letting go and today was like the ultimate release.”
Students involved in the opera said the experience helped learn how to navigate mistakes and challenges.
“I’ve learned a lot and through this process there’s been many things in our way and setbacks but we’ve all learned to move forward through them,” said Angel Daniels a student, Stedwick Elementary and the project manager for the opera.
“I learned going through this that it’s not just all about yourself, it’s about telling the truth to people and it’s not just about oh it’s all going to be about me, it’s got to be about each single person, the world doesn’t just revolve around me, it revolves around everyone,” said Ashley Wentzel, a student at Stedwick Elementary and an actress in the opera.
Some local leaders say that McGinn’s program is something they’d like to see more often in schools.
“This project is amazing. I’d love to see it continue to expand really giving children the opportunity to feel positive about themselves, to be up on stage in front of their peers,” said Montgomery County Council President Craig Rice. “Those are the things that we really want to continue to promote within Montgomery County Public Schools.”
“In this program they learn about math, they expand their vocabulary, they gain confidence and they work in teams that otherwise wouldn’t have happened if they were each sitting in their own desks working on their own projects,” said Cheryl Kagan, State Senator Candidate for District 17.
See photos from the opera premiere below:
We are Discover the Music Inside Kids Opera Company. After reflecting on the experiences we have shared since school began, the students were able to synthesize the metaphors, inspiring song lyrics, profound books and all we have lived together these last five weeks to arrive at their company name. It will surely serve us well […]
Late Friday afternoon as the first week of school drew to a close, I asked company members what they had learned over the five instructional days. Samir, who rarely contributed ideas during discussions and group sharing, raised his hand and responded, “Others Matter.” As hands shot up around the circle and students generated a comprehensive […]
On day one, I presented the incoming company members with the directive, Live a Great Story. I simply asked, “What does this mean to you?” Their responses, so authentic and introspective, launch our year-long journey of discovery. “Write my story.” ― Eugene “I want to live my life like a story, make it beautiful and […]
Back in September, Take Off the Mask Kids Opera Company was invited to present its original opera on The Millennium Stage at The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC. We knew then that this would be a once in a lifetime opportunity and that we must work hard and persevere to deliver […]
After a particularly difficult session in art class one day, where class behavior failed to meet the company’s expected protocol, I asked a question. What seemed to be a simple question, led to introspective thought about the future. “How many of you think you will have children when you grow up?” Almost every hand in […]
Our individual and collective barriers oftentimes get tangled up in enormous knots which seem impossible to overcome and disentangle. But we must remember that if we collaborate, if we communicate effectively and if we trust in one another, we can break free of the knots that bind us and hold us back. Watch as company […]
To sell an idea, promote a product or further a mission, one must craft the perfect sales pitch. Getting someone to purchase something he really does not need or want, takes persuasion, persistence and probable cause. Our company mugs are lovely, but who needs another mug? It’s what the mug represents, the purpose for funding […]
For years, teachers have engaged in taking running records to assess reading progress. Teachers analyze mistakes, determine strategies to help students correct mistakes and create an instructional plan of next steps to help students become proficient readers. When used correctly, this tool can provide great insight into teaching and learning in a profound way. The […]
Though the sky was spitting wetness and the damp, cold air was uninviting, it didn’t keep us in. Parked under the overhang of the school entrance, we sat in the stillness. We let our pencils guide us as we poured our thoughts and feelings onto paper.
Before attending our school choir and band concert last week, I knew it was important to discuss “audience etiquette.” So, as we do in teaching many concepts and ideas, we presented a metaphor to help us better understand our significance as members of an audience. Each company member took a domino and gently placed it […]