Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Of Mice and Mozart and More

This past weekend, Peanut Butter and Jelly Players presented the musical, "Of Mice and Mozart" at Sprayberry Education Center. This theatrical production is based on the life of Mozart as told by the mice that lived in the framework of the Mozart Family House. Mozart's prominent music is featured along with a hilarious rhyming script filled with facts about his life and many puns and clever twists.

The cast of Peanut Butter and Jelly Players is made up of 3rd through 5th grade students in the Tuscaloosa area. The philosophy is "children's theater by children for children" where "every kid is a star". Cast members have the opportunity to learn acting, music and dance as well as stage production. It provides interaction with children from other schools.

Elle played the role of Costanze Mozart, wife of the famous composer

Peanut Butter and Jelly Players promotes teamwork while developing friendships along the way!

Friends and Family enjoy watching these children succeed on the stage! Some may have experience or no experience at all!

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the founder of "Peanut Butter and Jelly Players", Kristin Frangoulis (Ms. Frannie to those students she taught in the TARGET program) for her commitment and dedication to children in Tuscaloosa. Last June, the Tuscaloosa County Board of Education voted to change service delivery of gifted services. Without "skipping a beat" following her retirement (after serving children for 20 plus years), Kristin and George immediatey went to work creating "Peanut Butter and Jelly Players" for children who would no longer have the opportunity to experience the arts and humanities curriculum at school. Going a step beyond, they offered this opportunity to ALL children in the Tuscaloosa area. See article from Tuscaloosa News:

Ms. Frannie is not the only teacher who served the TARGET program who gives time each week to our children in this awesome program. Other current teachers in the gifted program (which is now  GATE and delivered in the elementary schools) also serve our children - Cheryl Wallace, Susan Dunham, Lori White and Jodi Williams all serve in this awesome program as well as April Coleman, former gifted teacher in the TARGET program. I think it says alot about these very special and  talented teachers who continue to give of their personal time even though the TARGET program to which they dedicated much of their teaching careers was changed, despite their input, to a program that barely, if at all, meets a 3 hour requirement for gifted education. For these ladies, it is not just a job - it is a passion and I believe they are proving that by demonstrating an ongoing commitment to serving children, even on their own time!

Stepping up on my Soapbox
There are people who do not understand why the name changed from TARGET (Team Action Resouces for Gifted Education in Tuscaloosa County) to GATE (Gifted and Talented Education). As I see it, the gifted program no longer reflects the Team approach. The program went from 8 teachers working collaboratively on a daily basis to provide a curriculum using all their skills and talents to one in which individual teachers are working independently at individual schools. I applaud all the elementary gifted teachers in the schools for doing the most they can do, given the restrictions they were placed under. My child has learned alot in the GATE program this year; however, it she has clearly missed the opportunity for interaction with students from other schools, the arts and humanities that TARGET provided weekly (which is so motivated for her learning style), the benefit of learning from all the gifted teachers, the opportunity to experience one day a week away from her regular classroom and more. .........While I am still on my Soapbox, I would be remiss if I did not recognize the impact that losing the TARGET program has made on Sprayberry Education Center. First of all, four wonderful programs remain at Sprayberry and I am thankful for the awesome staff who lead and guide our children in the multiple needs, autism, alternative and preschool programs there! And, we miss the energy and enthusiam that the TARGET program added to Sprayberry, our children with special needs miss the interaction from the TARGET students. Sprayberry Education Center is honored to house the productions of "Peanut Butter and Jelly Players". It is a reminder of when music filled the air on a daily basis and our children were able to experience it, too!
Stepping off my Soapbox

Congratulations to Kristin Frangoulis and the staff of "Peanut Butter and Jelly Players" and to the amazing children who completed the second performance of this awesome children's theatrical program! Thanks for loving children and sharing your amazing talents!

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