Learning to rejoice in the richness of the arts

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  • Left- Joelle Williams and Kendra Earls are introducing a theatre programme for youngsters while they are still in nursery school. (Photo by Akil Simmons) November 5, 2012

    Left- Joelle Williams and Kendra Earls are introducing a theatre programme for youngsters while they are still in nursery school. (Photo by Akil Simmons) November 5, 2012

Toddlers reciting lines from Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’?

It’s a typical production at Seasons Learning Centre.

Theatre, puppetry, script reading and art form a big component of the popular preschool programme, which moved from Rosemont Avenue into larger premises on Dundonald Street last month.

“I feel like the arts and academics go hand in hand and based on a lot of the research I feel that the kids do better academically as a result of the arts,” said owner and director Joelle Williams. “We find a lot of our kids especially our boys are extremely confident and theatre brings that out.”

Many of her parents wish they’d had the benefit of a programme like this when they were younger, she said.

“So this programme is based on being able to have the kids express themselves early, to be bold and brave, and because of that, academically they take that same confidence and put it into their work.”

The school offers classes in early maths, music, language literacy and science.

It’s located in what Ms Williams calls the ‘arts district’ because it draws in City Hall, Bermuda National Gallery and Bermuda Society of Arts.

The facility was designed by artist Kendra Earls, and includes a stage area and nature-friendly theme.

“The productions are top-notch with the beautiful sets, quality of the costumes and the kids are all very good,” she said.

The arts had a great influence on Ms Williams as she was growing up largely due to her father, who was a member of local group, Warreneres.

“When I was little he used to do plays and he had a singing group. Every time they would put on a concert he would do productions so it’s just been in me all my life.”

She earned a degree in early childhood education from Oakwood University in Alabama.

“I felt the arts weren’t really developed in Bermuda the way they should be in schools. I went to Warwick Secondary and we had dance and music, but not so much drama. We also had cooking classes, but we didn’t really get too much exposure to all the arts.”

She grew up singing with a girl’s group called The Revelations and made her first album at age ten, but when it came to public speaking she had a hard time expressing herself.

“I didn’t like speaking in public, but all of a sudden I found myself and it came from teaching. I ended up finding that creative side in terms of theatre and dance when I was about 25 years old,” she said.

She doesn’t give the two-year-olds speaking roles but believes that just exposing them to the stage for short periods does a world of good for their confidence.

“We put them on there quick and short and by the time they hit three they are ready,” she said.

“The three- and four-year-olds do all the major parts.”

She said the important thing to remember is children can accomplish whatever they put their minds to.

“Every year the plays get better and better in terms of the kids. As soon as the staff might limit them, they break down the limits and take us further than we ever thought.”

Past productions include Romeo and Juliet, which had scenes from fairy tales like 'Three Little Pigs', 'Rapunzel' and 'Humpty Dumpty' encorporated into it.

The school has also staged a preschool version of the musical ‘Stomp’ and the Broadway hit ‘The Lion King’.

This holiday season they will put on a nativity play, called ‘A Soulful Celebration’.

Seasons Learning Centre, at 14 Dundonald Street above Smiles Dentistry, will hold an open house tomorrow night from 6pm until 7.30pm.

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