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Literacy Through the Arts Conference

September 2 - 3, 2021

Wichita State University

Wichita, KS

Grab N’ Go Strategies for Art Integration and Literacy                                                                                 Grades 3 – 8


A series of “bite size PD” videos with strategies that teachers could use in their classroom. Examples include identity projects involving writing and art, sketch notes to represent literary analysis, interactive art workbooks for students to complete as they read, and a variety of digital/art projects for students to demonstrate their comprehension, analysis, and reflection of the works they are reading.


Megan Johnson, Pre-AP 9, 9th, 11th English, KAY sponsor, Junior class sponsor, Lansing High School. USD 469.

Michaela Kinyon, Pre-AP 10, Senior Literature, KAYS Co-Sponsor, NEHS Sponsor, Lansing High School. USD 469.


The Music and Literacy Connection

All Grades


Movement, songs and stories serve as a catalyst to spark creative literacy.  This session reviews what we’ve learned about connections between music, language, and literacy. Activities will focus on perceptual skills that support both decoding and comprehension. Participants will experiment with sound, language and music concepts as common connections for problem solving and critical thinking.


Elaine Bernstorf, PhD, CCC-SLP, co-author of The Music and Literacy Connection, is Professor of Music Education and an Honors Faculty Fellow, Wichita State University. Her BME, MME in Special Music Education and PhD in CSD with certification in speech pathology are from Wichita State University, KS. Her work in arts, language and literacy have resulted in presentations, publications and service with many state, national and international organizations.


Exploring a New Professional Learning Model: Environmental Education Workshops that Connect Visual Literacy and STEM Subjects        

Grades 4 – 12


The value of investigating our natural world through alternative pedagogical approaches will be presented through an examination of two environmental education workshops which occurred in Summer 2021. This session highlights the collaborative opportunities for classroom teachers, arts integration specialists, and working artists. By exploring the intersection of visual art literacy and science, we will discuss the benefits of integrating arts learning into non-arts curriculum and content areas to address emerging technologies, areas of skills shortages, STEM curricula, and workforce readiness to increase student performance.


Molly Nevius is the Learning Communities Coordinator at the Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas. In this role, she helps lead an arts integration initiative known as Partners in Education Across Kansas (PEAK). Over her arts administration career spanning 17 years, Nevius has worked to engage new audiences by helping to make the arts more accessible. She is currently the president of the Kansas Alliance for the Arts in Education and has co-authored a chapter entitled Sparking Innovation in Museum/K-12 Programs through Self-Care and Social-Emotional-Learning which will be released in 2021 by Rowman and Littlefield.


Alisha Gridley is the Interim Director and Education Director at City Arts Wichita. Gridley holds a BFA in Fine/Studio Art and an MFA in Educational/Instructional Media Design. Her educational philosophy is to provide a wide range of artistic opportunities for every person, regardless of skill set or age. Gridley believes the arts encourage positive risk-taking, builds character and stronger communities, and creates connections across social sectors.

Haiku and Origami Stress Busters for Teachers                                                            

All Grade Levels - Drop-in whenever you need a rest!


Between sessions, take a creative break and write two Haiku (3-line poems based on a Japanese form) that will help you resolve a current challenge in your teaching practice. Then learn a simple origami pattern or bring your paper-folding expertise to the table and make a small object you can keep on your desk to remind you of your teaching expertise and goals. All materials supplied. Drop-in whenever you need a rest!


Lori Brack is a writer and teaching artist who has worked in schools, colleges, and community organizations for many years. Brack is an arts organizer and mentor. She is the author of three books of poetry and many essays. Some of her writing is available at



Arts Integration and Literacy

All Grades


The links between the arts and literacy are abundant. This session explores how literature can be enhanced through strategic arts activities such as movement, music, and illustrations; and, how well-planned arts activities can inspire students to seek skills that foster reading and writing.



Amanda Vanausdall is Wichita State University faculty. She teaches Integrating Learning Through the Arts, and Music Fundamentals for the Classroom Teacher.

Statewide Initiatives for Literacy and the Arts

All Grades


Statewide Initiatives for Literacy and the Arts primarily focusses on enhancing Artistic Literacy for learners through standards-based curriculum and instruction while addressing the whole school, whole community, whole child. Artistic Literacy (is) the ability to encode and decode (“read” and “write”) aesthetic wisdom that is expressed and received in symbolic and metaphoric forms. This session is designed to help develop knowledge and understanding to enhance problem solving and innovative thinking among learners. Artistic Literacy affords the opportunity to develop personal value systems through the discernment of historical and cultural information to foster growth in making informed decisions in order to live and work successfully and well with others. We will address how artistic literacy tells stories, identifies culture, introduces history, while responding to phonemic concepts, composition, and elements of story.


Joyce Huser is the Fine Arts Education Program Consultant for the Kansas State Department of Education. She is one of the writers for the National Core Arts Standards. She is a National Board-Certified teacher with many years of experience teaching K-12 Art Education with an emphasis on Arts Integration.


Integrating Music, Movement, Drama, and the Arts in Literacy

Grades Pre-K – 12


Participants will be engaged in storytelling, playing non-pitched instruments, movement, and drama as they develop a piece of literature. Demonstrate Arts integration through stories and literature. As we read, we are awakened by the spoken word and able to create ideas and thoughts and communicate with others.

One of the session goals is to teach students and young adults with a message and understanding that Literacy reaches all learners, intelligences, and demographics.


Kay Alston, Music Educator. Kay has been in music education for over 40 years teaching in K-12 and community College settings. She is an adjunct instructor at Butler Community College and her mission is to integrate music and the Arts in Literacy and other areas of education.


Exploring Literacy through Storytelling: The Salina Storytelling Project.              

Grades K-12


Learn about how Salina Arts & Humanities planned a storytelling project that lifted the voices of four community members to encourage listening, reading, and discussion. Model project for classroom or community engagement.


Kelly Mobray is the Principal and Director of Adult Education Center. USD 305. The Salina Adult Education Center offers a variety of programs under one umbrella to support adults moving forward with a variety of positive goals. Ultimately, whether achieving a high school diploma, preparing for a college class, or learning to speak, read and write English, students are working to obtain or improve their employment. Kelly is an experienced adult educator committed to working with community partners to reduce poverty, fill skill gaps and empower confidence in those who need support and resources. 


Teacher Self-Care

All Grades


If you want to engage your students and deepen their learning, first you must take care of yourself. Join us in this hands-on session and learn to use the arts to manage stress, gain insight and increase self-care. Experience the natural connections between arts integration and the social-emotional competencies of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision-making.


Ellamonique Baccus, Art Therapist with a Master of Arts in Art Therapy from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and an Illinois Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor. She is the Executive Director of Arts Partners in Wichita, KS, a non-profit organization that transforms young lives and learning environments as an expert in Arts Integration. In this role, she leads a collaboration with school districts, community organizations, visual and performing artists and cultural organizations to deliver workshops and fieldtrips both in person and online for PreK to 12th grade students and their teachers. The programs integrate the arts across all curriculums providing opportunities for applied learning and strengthening social-emotional competencies.



Connecting Literacy to Food, Gardens, and Cooking.                                             

Grades PreK – 6


Presented by Kansas City, KS, UrbanWorks group, this experienced team will show how community learning in and out of school inspires reading while impacting the community and environment. The session will focus on supporting literacy and integrating the arts, farming, and food. We will start weaving different approaches together and add a reading with 8–12-year-olds to create their own approach to promoting literacy.


Diosselyn Tot, Co-Founder of UrbanWorks, LLC, an organization that seeks to continue to do community building and engagement through arts and green initiatives. Diosselyn is the Associate Relationship Manager at NeighborWorks America for the Midwest Region. Diosselyn is also involved with a different non-profit organization that do work with the arts, Latin communities, and advocacy, with strong ties to LatinX culture.


Poetry in Motion: Making Connections Through Writing and Moving

Grades 4 -12


Exploring personal narratives through movement expression and creative writing. In this session, movement educator Regina Klenjoski and poetry therapy facilitator Jennie Linthorst share their methodology for integrating creative writing and embodied movement for students. Jennie guides participants in developing an autobiographical poem based on prompts from the “I am From …” poem format. Participants explore personal narratives through the home, people, foods, music, and sensory experiences of their childhood.  They then choose their favorite stanza and Regina guides them through an inclusive, gestural movement exploration that encourages the embodiment of those memories through collaboration in small group expressive dances.  The session ends with poem sharing and reflection, a critical part of the literacy and movement practice that deepens the connections made between personal identity, community, the world and art.

Regina Klenjoski, BFA, BBS, MFA-in-progress is lecturer in dance at Wichita State University, serves as Artistic Director of Regina Klenjoski Dance Company, and is Director of Dancing with RKDC, the company’s education outreach program in Torrance, CA and Wichita, KS. The Macedonian-born choreographer, recognized by the Los Angeles Times as “a dynamic, graceful and indefatigable presence," has initiated numerous community workshops, art-participatory programs and dance education curriculums and has taught dance movement, improvisation, choreography and modern dance technique in private, academic and community settings locally and nationally for the last 28 years.

Jennie Linthorst, MA, CAPF, is a poet, expressive writing teacher, and founder of LifeSPEAKS Poetry Therapy. She is on the faculty of UCLA Arts & Healing, and has taught expressive writing workshops at UC Irvine Ext, the University of Santa Monica, the National Association for Poetry Therapy, and the Manhattan Beach Unified School District. Jennie facilitates ongoing adult writing groups and original curriculum for private clients. She has a bachelor's in psychology from Skidmore College, certification as a certified applied poetry facilitator, and a master's in spiritual psychology from the University of Santa Monica. Jennie has written two books of poetry: Silver Girl and Autism Disrupted: A Mother’s Journey of Hope.


The Best Way to Read Aloud to a Child

Birth – Grade 3


This instructional session for parents and teachers of young children, "The Best Way to Read Aloud to a Child," was developed around the research work of Dr. Grover J. (Russ) Whitehurst. Whitehurst developed a process called dialogic reading and then studied its effectiveness. Dialogic reading, carrying on a dialog as you read with a young child, quickly develops the crucial language skills necessary for a child to learn the nuances of listening and learning from the language in a narrative or expository book. For years research has emphasized the importance of reading aloud to children, however, before dialogic reading, most didn’t know there was a considerably more effective way of reading a book to a child than reading it from cover to cover with an expressive voice.


Jeanine Phillips, M.S. Ed, CALT, ALTA QI, Co-Founder & Executive Director of Fundamental Learning Center. Jeanine Phillips and Gretchen Andeel—both former elementary teachers—co-founded Fundamental Learning Center (FLC) in 2000 with a mission to serve children who have significant reading, spelling and writing difficulties, including children with dyslexia, ADHD and other-related difficulties. Jeanine trained with Southwest Multisensory Education Center in the Academic Language Therapist Program. Today, she is a Certified Academic Language Therapist (CALT) and a Qualified Instructor for the Academic Language Therapist Association (ALTA). After Jeanine and Gretchen joined forces, they became pioneers in a state that didn’t recognize dyslexia. Jeanine had the vision for what this center could become, and Gretchen had the skills to implement the vision. It began for both women as a mother’s struggle. As their journey continued and their knowledge grew, FLC became a center that changed the lives not only of their own children but of thousands of others to follow.


Early Learning Through Simple Songs



Bang a pot, waive a scarf, keep the beat on your body! What wonderful ways to introduce sound, movement and rhythm to our youngest children. So many of our favorite storybooks can have music added to them to extend the experience. Learn how to begin to integrate music into your literacy lessons and your early childhood class. 

Literacy Through Song Writing

Grades 4-6

Stories have a beginning, a middle and an end. That sounds just like a three verse song! Learn how to give your students a framework for retelling stories through song writing that has as a beginning, middle and end and then tie it all together with a chorus! They will never forget that story for sure.


Literacy Through Lyric Writing

Grades 7-12

Giving voice through poetry and lyric writing can turn a ho-hum literacy lesson into a powerful teaching tool. Use a book as the basis for students to reflect charter traits and then have them write their own story using poetry or lyric writing. Sample books to use will be discussed in this workshop.


Aaron Fowler, a Young Audience National Credentialed Teaching Artist and a Wolf Trap Early Learning Through the Arts Master Teaching Artist. He is also a Kansas Wolf Trap Baby Artsplay artist. Aaron Fowler draws from 12 years as a public-school teacher working at both the elementary and middle school level and more than two decades as a songwriter and educational consultant. He is published author with his first children’s book, The Adventures of Bella and Choco: Being YOU-neek. 

#’s 13 -16 offered by Aaron Fowler. Will not offer all of these.


Arts Integration: An Introduction for Administrators, Arts Specialists, and Teachers                                                     

All Grades


This workshop session introduces you to the Kennedy Center’s definition of art integration and the characteristics of quality arts integration. For this session, you will participate in arts integrated model lesson that integrates dance with topics relevant to student literacy and explores the tangible benefits of taking an arts integrated approach to your teaching. Teaching artist Harlan Brownlee shares movement strategies that illustrate the connections and can be immediately taken back to the classroom. Harlan is a presenter for the Kennedy Center and a Young Audiences Nationally Credentialed Teaching Artist. Please dress comfortably and ready to move.

Harlan Brownlee understands the transformational power that the arts have to improve the quality of life for individuals and the community. Brownlee has worked for 37 years in the arts education field. He has conducted professional development, workshops, and residencies throughout the United States. Harlan has designed and implemented hundreds of lesson plans and for 36 years instructed a weekly class at Community School #1 that integrated dance and movement into the general curriculum with an emphasis on the subject areas of science and literacy. Harlan has been an adjunct professor for Rockhurst University’s School of Education and the University of Missouri – Kansas City’s School of Education.  Mr. Brownlee received his B.F.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee where he was educated as a dancer and choreographer. His performance background includes work for thirteen years as one of the Artistic Co-Directors with City in Motion Dance Theater in Kansas City, Missouri. Mr. Brownlee received his M.A. in Educational Research and Psychology from the University of Missouri - Kansas City. 



Literacy and Ways of Knowing Through Arts-Based Interpretive Activities           

All Grades


In this workshop we explore the definition of literacy and knowledge by using stories inspired by the history of education in Kansas. We will watch an arts-based film, while also modeling ways to use the video (and corresponding activities) in the classroom. This session looks at the people/events featured in our current exhibition called "History, Notice Me". The Winter School has gathered 41 black and white photographs featuring people and scenes around Kansas between 1870-1949. These include individuals such as national vaudeville star George Walker from Lawrence, Ida Eisenhower, and Haskell students. Discussion strengthens cross-cultural conversations and understandings.


Katie Winter, Director and Curator of the Winter School, has studied and worked at the cross section of education, social work, and art for her entire career. While in Taos, New Mexico she designed and developed the interpretive activities for the Harwood Museum of Art. She is currently the Director of Winter School, the co-curator at the Fayman Gallery in Lawrence, one half of the Luz y Ligera Project and a board member of the Lawrence Arts Center and Douglas County Foundation.

Megan Embers Roelofs brings over 15 years of professional art experience to the Winter School. In addition, she is an Occupational Therapist which gives her a unique combination of creative problem-solving skills and a comfort in communicating with a wide array of people. This professional expertise combined with her enthusiasm for Kansas history, life-long education and a philosophy of interconnectedness lends a perspective essential to creating an engaging curriculum. She holds a BFA from the University of Kansas in Industrial Design and received her Master's degree from the University of Kansas Medical Center in Occupational Therapy. She has been the owner and creator of Feather Spring Arts since 2010.


Creating an Illustrated Accordion Book                                                                   

Grades K – 6


A hands-on session that strengthens Literacy with the Visual Arts as an essential language. Participants will be guided through a variety of art media, techniques, and processes to create a simple Accordion Book. In small groups, we will brainstorm characters, actions, story beginning middle and end. Then divide up illustrations for individuals to create a book.


Michelle Meade, Kennedy Center EDGE Trained Teaching Artist, Children's Writer, and Illustrator, and holds a Master of Fine Arts in Children’s Book Writing and Illustrating.



Serving Students with Dyslexia


Kimberly Wilson, PhD, CCC-SLP


There are many myths about dyslexia and what works best in terms of instructional practices. This session examines the empirical evidence and scientific research that defines dyslexia. Additionally, evidence-based practices that can be used in the classroom to meet the needs of children with dyslexia and other literacy-related disorders and differences. 

Kimberly Wilson, PhD, CCC-SLP is a Professor in Literacy and Language at Wichita State University. She is a licensed teacher and speech language pathologist and earned her PhD from Florida State University. While a doctoral student, Kimberly helped create student learning materials for Florida Center for Reading Research. Dr. Wilson’s areas of research include literacy, language, pedagogy, and efficacy.


Panel Exploring Dyslexia – Kim Wilson and Guests


Explore the intersection of educational practice and research about dyslexia that can impact instructional strategies for all students. This panel will focus on what we have learned about dyslexia and how it impacts the cognitive development and learning of students.


Panelists: Dr. Kimberly Wilson, Dr Jennifer Stone, Dr Nicole Niessen, and Christy Carter



Blackout Poems for Student Literacy

Grades 4 – 12


Creative, kinesthetic-tactile, and flexible, blackout poems offer students from middle elementary grades to high school a new way to learn. This workshop will introduce how to transform printed or photocopied pages into poems that help students master vocabulary and parts of speech, identify key words, summarize, and experience social, emotional benefit. You will share your grade-level, curriculum, and subject-area expertise as you have fun applying the strategies to your own poems. All materials and a handout with instructions and resources supplied.


Lori Brack is a writer and teaching artist who has worked in schools, colleges, and community organizations for many years. Brack is an arts organizer and mentor. She is the author of three books of poetry and many essays. Some of her writing is available at



The “Back To School Daze”                                                                                                                                       Grades 5 – 8

“The Back to School Daze” is a stage show project with original songs, and vignettes woven into a seamless event designed to reflect some of the trepidations and experiences pre-teens … and their parents … might have when the kids are moving into middle level education for the first time. The show, which is customizable in several ways, is intended to be followed by a co-facilitated reception and discussion with target families in attendance. Participants will get to do a LIVE reader’s theater version of some of the vignettes included in a script that features a number of them.  They will also hear samples of songs from the model show, and be provided materials that detail more of the project’s content, and how to acquire the model show, which has been consistently rated high by both student and parent participants.


Rob Simon, a deeply experienced Kansas educator, is an experienced trainer/consultant and speaker/performer who has worked with school systems and various other agencies from coast to coast.  Through his own POSITIVE RHYTHM PRODUCTIONS, he produces and performs topical workshop, classroom, assembly, keynote and other creative presentations for many different audiences.  His tools include persuasive speech, original songs, characterizations, essays, and poetry and he is also known for his ten-plus years of weekly radio commentary on Wichita's National Public Radio affiliate, KMUW FM 89.1.

Rob is currently working as a consultant for Restorative Practices advocacy for the Wichita Public Schools, Music Director for Contemporary Worship at College Hill United Methodist Church, a storyteller – including as a member of the Wichita Griots Storytellers, a vocalist and performer with the band, Blue Eyed Soul, and a teaching artist for Arts Partners Wichita. For more information, see


Using Visual Supports to Support Literacy: A How to Approach

Grades K - 5


This session will focus on teaching literacy skills through the lens of the Big 5: Phonological awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. Attendees will learn about visual supports, why they are important, and how they can be utilized during literacy groups. Attendees will identify activities to increase literacy skills while using visual supports.


Dr. Holli Steiner is a Speech-Language Pathologist who works with a population of students with severe disabilities. She focuses on Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) and completed her doctorate with a focus on AAC in the fall of 2018. Her clinical expertise and research foci include technology and aging, AAC, autism spectrum disorder, and organizational change.


Beth Schneider is a Speech-Language Pathologist who works with a population of students who have severe special needs. She began working at Heartspring in Wichita, KS in the fall of 2014. Her clinical expertise and research foci include autism spectrum disorder and Augmentative and Alternative Communication.


Hip Hop Spelling

Grades K – 6


Learning rhythms and motions of hip hop disciplines while incorporating spelling techniques. Having fun and while spelling gets done.


Deiondre Teagle is a performer, dance instructor, and choreographer currently based in Wichita, KS. He is a graduate of Wichita State University where he received his degree in Musical Theatre. Deiondre serves as a dance instructor to many locations in the Wichita area including: Wichita State University, Butler Community College, Encore Dance Studios, and Andover Dance Academy. Deiondre’s next project DEATH RANCH, a horror/thriller feature film is set for release in 2020.

Let's Get Cooking!

Grades Birth-5


Come discover the fun of connecting literacy and food experiences. Children naturally want to explore food and the basics of cooking. Let's help facilitate that natural curiosity! We will be learning the best strategies to facilitate food experiences, how to intertwine these with literacy skills, and the natural extension of these experiences with all other areas of learning.


Caroline Teter is an Early Childhood Specialist at Child Care Aware of Kansas, Region 2, located at Child Start, in Wichita, KS. She holds a Master’s degree of Education in Teaching and Learning. She serves on the KSAEYC board and is an adjunct professor for Butler Community College’s Early Childhood Education Department.


Presentation Descriptions

Thursday, September 2nd: Literacy Through the Arts Conference

African American Literacy Coalition and Educator Workshop

All participants are invited to join the African American Literacy Coalition for a meeting to hear and share the work, concerns, and critiques of teachers and parents and the way our education system supports underserved students. Attendees will participate in a town hall, and feedback will be used to create campaigns that can be used to help move the needle in underserved communities throughout Kansas. he purpose of this meeting is to hear the work, concerns and critiques of teachers and use their feedback to support and create campaigns to move the needle in childhood literacy. From here we can create direct responses to help with specific issues.

The African American Literacy Coalition's mission is to increase the number of African American students who can read at a proficient level by the fourth grade, through the approach of governance, advocacy, and community organizing in collaboration with nonprofits, statewide organizations, school districts, and institutions of power across the state of Kansas. 

The Haves and Have Nots in America...

A look into America's history and how her citizens of color, young and old, have been affected by her inability to accept the truth about her history, her inability to promote true equality and equity, and the need to change her educational system. 

Dr. Gwendolyn Mukes is a retired educator of 52 years (USD 259, WSU, OKCPS) whose classrooms were her stage. When residing in Wichita for 37-1/2 years, she portrayed several well-known and forgotten historical African American women and received national, state, and local awards for portraying Harriet Tubman. Additionally, she and Dr. Jim Granada presented at several National Science Conferences as Father Fine Arts and Sister Science, showing teachers how to make science and language arts interesting and fun to learn, using the medium of music. Gwen, as her friends call her, relocated to California in 2017 to follow her dream to become an actor. You might see her pop up unexpectedly in popular TV productions, such as: Blackish, Family Reunion, Snowfall, Mandalorian, a few movies (The Call of the Wild, Her Only Choice, A Beautiful Nightmare, Crowns), magazines, pamphlets, music videos, and national commercials. In her spare time, she enjoys script writing, reading, traveling, doing arts and crafts projects, and spending time with her family.

Poverty and Trauma's Impact on Children


This session will go over the ACE’s Assessment, and participants will talk about how understanding the trauma that kids have experienced can impact their learning, and how you as a teacher can become a bridge to a learner rather than a barrier. After attending this training, attendees will know how to understand and recognize ACEs and begin to create healthier and happier learning environments for their students.  


BreAnn Gilkey is a current Associate Clinical Professor and Associate Director of Field Practicum in Wichita State University’s School of Social Work. She graduated from Wichita State University with her BA in Social Work in 2003 and got her MSW from WSU in 2005. She has worked in a variety of social service settings. She began her career at Episcopal Social Services working in their Representative Payee program and served as the Administrative Assistant for their Teen Intervention Program. From there she moved on to United Methodist Urban Ministries (now Open Doors) and was their Transitional Housing Case Manager .BreAnn moved over to Wichita Area Technical College and served as the Career advisor assisting students plan their career goals. Most recently she has worked at Catholic Charities with the Marriage for Keeps program, counseling couples and individuals in making healthy relationship choices as well as assisting pregnant women with parenting and adoption choices. BreAnn is on the Kansas African American Healthy Marriage Initiative. 


"Imitation of Life" Creative Theater...And How You Can Create It 

Think of significant moments that have shaped you.  It could be a birth, a death, a moment with a mentor, a near-miss disaster, falling in love, an epiphany, a costly mistake, or being physically attacked.  Maybe it’s getting married or divorced, witnessing something traumatic, laughing so hard that you cry, being bullied, ostracized or ignored, or having caused this for others.


Now … think of how such a moment could be recreated for diverse people in the shortest possible time frame – not so they live through the same things, but so they can experience them vicariously.  If you’re thinking of something theatrical, imagine, also, people being able to reflect back to you, and to each other perspectives about having lived such experiences.


“Imitation of Life” is built to begin to move you from the thoughts to a matching project for an audience, - maybe even one you surprise.


Rob Simon, a deeply experienced Kansas educator, is an experienced trainer/consultant and speaker/performer who has worked with school systems and various other agencies from coast to coast.  Through his own POSITIVE RHYTHM PRODUCTIONS, he produces and performs topical workshop, classroom, assembly, keynote and other creative presentations for many different audiences.  His tools include persuasive speech, original songs, characterizations, essays, and poetry and he is also known for his ten-plus years of weekly radio commentary on Wichita's National Public Radio affiliate, KMUW FM 89.1.

Rob is currently working as a consultant for Restorative Practices advocacy for the Wichita Public Schools, Music Director for Contemporary Worship at College Hill United Methodist Church, a storyteller – including as a member of the Wichita Griots Storytellers, a vocalist and performer with the band, Blue Eyed Soul, and a teaching artist for Arts Partners Wichita. For more information, see www.positiverhythm.orgRobert Simon, Imitation of Life, KIPOR trained and National Institute for Restorative Practices. Social and civic issues explored through creative theater format.

Is Low-Income Equal to At-Risk?


During this presentation, we will take a deep look into poverty and how living in a low income environment can impact a child’s learning. We will also look at the program components needed to successfully serve children who live in poverty and take a glimpse at student data from students who attended TOP Early Learning Centers which has been serving children who live in communities of poverty for over 18 years.


Cornelia Stevens is the Executive Director of TOP Early Learning Centers. Cornelia has more than 20 years of experience developing collaborative partnerships, creating opportunities for new business development, assessing and identifying needed services, program development, and monitoring the quality and effectiveness of programs and services. Cornelia has worked for a diverse range of organizations, including the Kansas Children’s Service League as the South Central Region Director, Mental Health Association of South Central Kansas as the Director of Compeer/Volunteer Services, ResCare Kansas Life Choices as a Day Program Coordinator, Ohio Department of Corrections as the Director of Activity Therapy and the Florida House of Representatives as a Legislative Assistant.  Much of her professional career has been focused on early childhood programming and her knowledge in the area of both children and families make her well suited for this role. But more importantly, as the parent of a TOP graduate, she has a heart for the children at TOP and the staff that serves them. Cornelia received her education at Ohio University with a degree in Music Therapy, and at Baker University with a Master’s in Business Administration. 

Strategies to Impact Urban Elementary Student Reaching Achievement in the Classroom and After-School Academic Enrichment Programs


Literacy is an educational focus that is a gateway for academic success, but this ability is an area that is challenging for many children, especially for children living in the urban core. The presenter analyzed the Aim for Success after-school tutoring program in Kansas City, Missouri serving approximately 100 kindergarten through sixth-grade students. The student population is culturally diverse, representing nearly 35 languages and includes African-American and Hispanic students and a significant number from families who are recent immigrants from Africa, Asia, and Central America. The primary purpose of this workshop is to provide strategies and tools that will support educators, parents, tutors and mentors when working with children from urban settings.Jesse Barnes, PhD Candidate, Executive Director of nonprofit

Dr. Jesse Barnes, ED.D, is the Executive Director of Grace United Community Ministries, Inc. (GUCM). As the Director of GUCM, he is responsible for a 501 c-3 non-profit organization that impacts the lives of children and families in the Greater Kansas City Northeast Community through educational enrichment and community outreach. Jesse received a Bachelor of Arts in Education from Morehouse College and Master of Arts from the University of Missouri at Kansas City and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Baker University. He has career experience as an academic dean of students, museum curator and library media specialist. Jesse continues to serve as a consultant, keynote speaker, and lecturer for many venues. With a passion for serving youth especially those within the urban core, Jesse is the Founder/CEO of Brown Bag Productions a 501 c-3 organization that promotes literacy and the arts through puppetry for children. He is the author of a published children’s book, entitled The Magic Tooth.

Visual Literacy: Seeing Between and Beyond the Lines


Learn how object-based learning and Visual Thinking Strategies can help build stronger learners and critical thinkers for the 21st century by helping students develop the skills they need to create meaning, collaborate, and express their own ideas, while encouraging reflection, analysis, and evaluative thinking. This session will include VTS demonstrations.

Jana Erwin is the Head of Education at the Ulrich Museum of Art at Wichita State University and is responsible for producing the Museum’s public and academic programming, including artist talks, panel discussions, curriculum development, guided tours and in-gallery learning experiences for K-12 and college students.

Friday, September 3rd: Special Topic: Diversity and Equity in Literacy and Education

*Check back for session updates through May 25th

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This Storytime Village project, in partnership with Wichita State University, was supported in part by the Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission, which receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.


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