Area Students Perform in artsFUSION’s Storytelling Festival

Published: May 03, 2018 | Author: Tracy Solimeno | Read Time: 2 minutes

College student teaching group of elementary students in SUMALast week approximately 350 students from Iron Springs, Enoch, Three Peaks, and North Elementary participated in artsFUSION’s Storytelling Festival at Southern Utah University (SUU). 

The Storytelling Festival was a culmination of a year-long project. In the fall, Donald Davis and Eliot Wilcox from Timpanogos Storytelling Institute held a workshop at SUU for elementary teachers and SUU students. A group of six SUU education students worked with classroom teachers over the school year to prepare for this festival.

Marilee Cook, Education Director at Timpanogos Storytelling Festival, said, “Storytelling plays a tremendous role in education because it plays such an important role in our brains. For most of the history of humanity, facts and information were passed from generation to generation through oral storytelling. Our brains are programmed for story. That means if we want students to remember content knowledge and facts, or have empathy for their classmates, or understand social norms, or even create positive, successful narratives for their lives, we can do that seamlessly through story. Stories capture attention, build emotion, and fix information in our minds. I tell students and teachers alike that if you want to have influence--to help others think what you think and feel what you feel--there is no better brain hack than a compelling story.” 

SUU education majors used their own interest and experience to develop and explore storytelling through a variety of projects. The elements of plot, character, and emotion were integrated into the classroom through puppetry, visual arts, vocal performance, theater, and dance. 

“Working with Ms. Orton’s fourth grade class was amazing! I got to watch the kids tell their own stories through art,” said Stacie Heiner, an SUU art education major. “The best part was watching them practice their parts for the performance. The emotion in one sentence can tell a story all its own.” 

Emma Coombs Cole, SUU education major said, “Sometimes being a teacher feels impossible, but when I get into a really successful project with students it takes the focus off of myself and my worries, and I remember that everything is for them. These students were amazing to work with, and I couldn't be more proud of the work they did.”  

Alisa Petersen, Beverley Taylor Sorenson Endowed Chair of Elementary Arts Education, said, “The SUU students have learned so much from working in elementary classes this year and their elementary students have had a great time preparing. I am happy that we could have this culminating event. I am so excited that we were able to celebrate the creative work of so many elementary students and their teachers.” 

artsFUSION was created in the SUU College of Education and Human Development through a generous endowment from the Sorenson Legacy Foundation with the goal of increasing the quality and quantity of children’s arts education experiences in Southern Utah. With additional support from the Beverley Taylor Sorenson Arts Learning Program artsFUSION offers arts professional development opportunities for elementary teachers and administrators in Millard, Sevier, Wayne, Beaver, Iron, Piute, and Garfield Counties. For more information, please visit

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