When did you first catch the storytelling bug? Can you remember the first time you were charmed as a professional teller spun a captivating tale? For more than 154,000 Utah students, their first taste of the storyteller’s art has happened in their very own school.

Since 2014, Timpanogos Storytelling Institute has offered an education program unlike any other  in the world. The Utah State Legislature generously sponsors the Professional Outreach Program in the School (POPS) that brings free or subsidized art education to Utah public and charter schools. In addition to Timpanogos Storytelling, the POPS program includes professional arts companies such as Utah Symphony, Ballet West, Utah Shakespeare Festival, and the Springville Museum of Art. As a member company, Timpanogos Storytelling Institute developed a program of storytelling performances, workshops and resources that we’ve presented to schools in every corner of the state.

School programs have been an integral part of our Festival almost from the very start. That tradition continues today. Last September, over 7000 students and teachers enjoyed performances at Thanksgiving Point by Donald Davis, Ed Stivender, Shonaleigh, Carmen Deedy and more. This year, students will enjoy the likes of Kim Weitkamp, Daniel Morden, Claire Murphy, and Bill Harley. We’re filling up fast, but we’ve got room to grow at the Festival’s new venue boththis year and in the years to come as we continue the tradition of school visits.

The fun doesn’t stop when the Festival ends, though. We’re just getting started as we take storytelling to the far corners of Utah from September to April. Here’s how it works: we bring some of the best storytellers to Utah during the school year. These include festival favorites such as Donald Davis, Kim Weitkamp, and Bil Lepp. They spend a week traveling around Utah, giving storytelling performances and joining with TSI staff for storytelling workshops in public and charter schools. Educators are given access to resources including recordings of storytelling performances, educational DVDs, and lesson plans designed to help students develop their own stories.

The feedback we receive from these programs is overwhelmingly positive. Not only are we building the next generation of Festival audiences here in Utah, we are also building a generation of Utah kids who can use the magic of storytelling to benefit their own lives. Whether in their work, their relationships, or perhaps as future professional tellers, these students are equipped to captivate their own audiences through the power of a story.

If you would like more information on how to get your school registered for Storytelling in the Classroom, you can find more information on our website https://timpfest.org/stories/storytelling-in-the-classroom/, or contact Marilee Clark at mclark@timpfest.org.