PreK Literacy & Arts Program Arrives in Somerset Schools

Westover, MD, July 24, 2022 – PreK students attending summer programming at Princess Anne Elementary School (PAES) and Carter G. Woodson Elementary School (WES) recently participated in an assembly led by Wolf Trap Master Teaching Artist, Maria Tripodi. Through playful acting, Tripodi told the story of a young boy named Jabari, who experiences and overcomes his fear of jumping from the diving board in the book “Jabari Jumps,” by Gaia Cornwall. Tripodi encouraged students to identify places within their own bodies where they might feel anxiety, fear or stress. Students were then presented with coping mechanisms that included deep breathing, bodily movement and positive self-talk to calm their fears and find the courage to try new things. 
SCPS will collaborate with Wolf Trap in the coming 2022-2023 school year to provide arts and literacy residency experiences for students and teachers. Each residency includes embedded professional development to build teachers’ skills and confidence in arts integration techniques so that the arts remain a strong part of their lessons after the residency ends. Teachers will learn effective ways to engage students in participatory activities that involve all the senses and encourage critical thinking, creativity, communication, and collaboration. 
Early Childhood Supervisor, Karen Karten shared, “Art activities, including performing arts, are a great way to promote literacy and language development in our youngest students. Children who illustrate or reenact stories they have read improve their reading comprehension, story understanding and verbal expression skills. We are excited for this partnership with Wolf Trap in the coming school year.” 
In addition to residency experiences for students and teachers, SCPS will provide family engagement activities with Wolf Trap in the coming school year. Funding for the literacy residency experiences was secured through the Ready for Kindergarten (R4K) Grant program administered by the Division of Early Childhood at the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE). More information about arts integration for early childhood students with Wolf Trap can be found at  
woman with towel around neck, pointing at legs in front of an audience of students
Wolf Trap Master Teaching Artist, Maria Tripodi, points to her unsteady legs to demonstrate what fear looked and felt like for Jabari, the main character in “Jabari Jumps,” as he approached the ladder to the diving board.
Group of students standing with arms stretched upwards
Students practice deep breaths and stretching as a coping strategy employed by Jabari, the main character in “Jabari Jumps,” to reduce anxiety and build confidence. 
About Maria Tripodi
Maria Tripodi, Wolf Trap Master Teaching Artist, has been with the Institute since 2004. She is a graduate from the Teaching Artist Institute, a program established by the Maryland Arts Counsel, Arts Education in Md. Schools (AEMS), and Young Audiences of Maryland. Maria began working with children while living in San Francisco where she earned her Montessori Teaching Certificate. She holds a BA in Performance and Language Arts and a Masters in Teaching from Bennington College. Having grown up both in Washington DC and Argentina, Maria conducts classes in both English and Spanish. Because she began dancing as an adult, Maria pays close attention to creating an enriching movement experience for both the experienced and novice dancer. As an arts education curriculum writer, Marie Tripodi’s goal is to support learning for a wide group of people. As an artist, Maria continues to expand her knowledge through different disciplines such as yoga, dance improvisation and music.