Storytelling Presenters at the 2017 Spring Conference

The following information is about the talented presenters who will be at our annual Spring Conference on Saturday, April 8th in Waterville.  Registration for this conference, Storytelling Through Music, Movement and Play, will be available soon.  Here are the people you do not want to miss!

Karen Richards Toothaker

Karen Richards Toothaker is a veteran Early Childhood Educator. For over forty years she has provided children quality, creative, engaging programs in private and public schools, summer camps, and Head Start. Her passion is developing age appropriate curriculum that draws on children’s natural curiosity and interest, integrating Standards through literacy & play centers. Karen drives a shiny red PT Cruiser with the license plate PLY2LERN.


Play On Words

For all of us, stories serve as windows into the world we know and doors into the world we want to explore. Using quality picture books we will play, watch a play, and perform a play. We will look (playfully!) at the Maine Early Learning and Development Standards to see how these stories ,and the play we help children create, support learning in all domains. Release your inner Star and come ready for two hours of joyful interactions with words, music, numbers, art, and each other!

Monte Selby and Michelle Selby

Dr. Monte Selby has his roots in education as an award winning teacher, principal, and professor.  He has keynoted numerous national and international conferences, and written music with nearly 36,000 K-12 grade students. On the creative side, he’s co-authored eight books and composed over 100 published songs, including “Check Your Attitude”, which landed on the 2012 Grammy Award winning Best Children’s Album. Hundreds of educators across North America, Europe and Asia have evaluated Monte’s sessions as, “the most engaging presentation I’ve ever attended!” Michelle Selby is a family therapist, author and artist who specializes in helping children with their academic, social and emotional development.  She is an active volunteer in the community and in her own children’s schools.  Michelle loves to study cultures and their social structure, medicine, art, music and languages.


The Beat of the Brain: Music, Movement, Stories and Well-Being

Come have fun with Monte and Michelle Selby as they share high-engagement music, movement and inspiring activities to help kids gain literacy, science, and important social and emotional skills. They will address strategies for storytelling using the arts, and ways to connect with reluctant learners. Plan to move, groove, laugh and sing – and leave with practical ideas you can use tomorrow.  

Robin Holman

I have worked with young children for over 25 years and have taught kindergarten for 22 years. I enjoy yoga, nature, and learning. I have a masters degree in elementary education and a doctorate in early childhood.


Cultivating Creative Experiences

Our bodies tell a story on daily basis. Each individual body may express pain, joy, excitement, and motion in different ways. This workshop is designed to start at the most basic level of expression~ our bodies. According to Maine’s Early Learning and Development Standards in Creative Arts (2015) “An Early Educator who is able to promote [creative arts] experiences and build upon these skills not only supports the young child’s own creative efforts but brings language and understanding to the creative arts and an appreciation for the arts in general.”

This session integrates components of literacy, math, science, and physical development and offers simplistic fun as we creatively explore ways to express our own stories through the experience of music, art, and movement.

Sarah MacLaughlin

Sarah MacLaughlin has worked with children and families in a variety of settings for over 20 years. She currently writes about child development and parenting full time for ZERO TO THREE, a national nonprofit dedicated to informing parents, professionals, and policymakers about ways to improve the wellbeing of babies and young children. Sarah is a licensed social worker, parent educator, and author of the award-winning book, What Not to Say: Tools for Talking with Young Children (Bay Island Books, 2010). She is also Mom to a young son who gives her plenty of opportunities to take her own advice. Learn more about her at


Story, Race, and Social Justice

Using children’s literature as a jumping off place, this session will engage caregivers and teachers in an investigation of what it means to scaffold young children’s learning around racial identity and social justice, with the added goal of teaching appreciation for Self, Other, and a diverse world. Research tells us that while most children of color are aware of race and racial differences at a young age, most White children—to their detriment—are not. Let’s bust the myth that children should be “colorblind.” We will anchor ourselves in the latest brain science and explore this common bias while using inquiry and discussion to examine the use of books, story, play, and prompting in this work.

Brigitte Paulus

Brigitte Paulus is a professionally trained dancer, a teaching artist, a mother of two and a leader of a community dance company. She combines her love of dance with literature and storytelling. As founder of the nonprofit dance company Vivid Motion in Portland ME, she shares this love with audiences and dancers by creating and supporting dance shows based in story. Past shows have included The Odyssey, The Seven Voyages of Sinbad, Legends of King Arthur, and Peter Pan. She has encouraged Vivid Motion members of all ages to create their own stories and helped bring those to life onstage. Brigitte creates opportunities for burgeoning choreographers and dancers who don’t conform to the stereotypes of dance. As a dance educator and choreographer she uses many words to describe movements she teaches: from “plie, pirouette and arabesque” to “fwoop, slump, and break free”. She believes that if you can move, you can dance; for dance is any movement that expresses an emotion or tells a story.

Using movement to encourage literacy in K-2 students

What to do with all the wiggly energy during story time? … Turn it into a dance!

Kids have boundless energy and sitting still through a lesson is hard for even the calmest of them. What if they could get up and move as part of the lesson? Learn to lead your students through an exploration of movement that tells a story and uses literacy learning standards. Movement, because it uses no words, necessitates digging into a story to find key ideas and details to convey it to an audience. Alleviating the anxiety of creating dance will allow you to use movement as a tool to promote the integration of knowledge and ideas from the stories you already use in your classroom. I will share strategies for classroom management, movement games and an outline showing you how to create a dance from a story. You will be able to more confidently lead students in finding their own movement and engage them in an exciting, new way.

Hannah Cordes

Hannah Cordes is an educator, actor, and director in the Portland area. She is currently the Education Manager at Portland Stage. After receiving her Bachelor of Arts Degree in English Literature and Theatre from Bucknell University, she went on to teach for a variety of companies, including Portland Stage, the Jamestown Arts Center, and The Sandra-Feinstein Gamm Theatre. She is a founding member of The Basement Theatre Collective and The Face to Face Forum Theatre Troupe (a theatre troupe dedicated to Theatre for Social Change on college campuses). Above all, she is dedicated to theatre education and believes that theatrical exploration inspires young people to be creative thinkers, playful individuals, and confident learners.

Physical Play and the Expressive Self

This workshop will engage teachers with a variety of games, activities, and exercises rooted in the practice of physical theatre. Physical theatre focuses on connecting the body and physical play to character discovery, fearless exploration, and playful storytelling. Discover how theatrical play can help enhance literacy, aid in character recognition, and increase students’ abilities to better understand and take ownership of texts and stories. We will practice many elements of creative play that empower young people (and adults!) to take risks and communicate using their voices, bodies, and imaginations. The activities are especially useful in engaging students with a variety of learning styles and personalities. Expect to explore collaborative movement, character walks and character centers, the relationship between sound and movement, and lots and lots of active play!

Keith Ludden

Keith Ludden is the founder of Oral History and Folklife Research Inc, a nonprofit dedicated to preserving and presenting, though sound, image and performance, the stories, voices and cultural traditions of Maine and beyond.  Ludden received his Master’s degree in Intercultural and Folk Studies from Western Kentucky University, and conducted oral history and folklife fieldwork projects in Kansas, Indiana, Nebraska and Maine. Among his first projects was a series of radio programs spotlighting tradition bearers in Nebraska and Kansas. He served for eight years as the Traditional Arts Associate for the Maine Arts Commission. Ludden worked as a journalist for Nebraska Public Radio, covering legislative and cultural topics.  Among Ludden’s recent efforts are oral history projects marking the 25th anniversary of the ADA,  Immigrant Voices, exploring the lives of Maine Immigrants, and Everybody Had Their Own Rhythm, honoring the last sardine cannery in Maine.

Capturing Grassroots History

This session will focus on examples of the use of oral history and basic techniques for gathering stories.  The presenter will offer examples of work done by Oral History and Folklife Research, using both slide/audio presentation and podcasts; and discuss basic interviewing and recording techniques for oral history.

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