OCTOBER 16, 2018 – Each academic year, the Junior League of Winston-Salem travels to elementary schools in the district to put on a puppet show for the third-grade students.
The wonderful volunteers set up a stage, connect to sound systems, and work the puppets along to a pre-recorded track in order to create a show to inform students about the reality of child abuse and neglect, on-line predators, and sexual abuse.
The volunteers do all of this in a developmentally appropriate, engaging and non-threatening way. Between each puppet scenario, a volunteer will have a discussion with students to make sure they are understanding the important safety messages the “puppets” are sharing.
Another very important by-product of the Junior League Puppet Show is the opportunity for the students to see and meet Student Services Staff that they may not regularly make contact with, but that are valuable resources to them in the school setting. The School Counselor, the School Social Worker, the Nurse, the Parent Involvement Coordinator, and the School Psychologist may all be in attendance and are introduced and recognized as “safe people” who students can seek out and have conversations about hard topics. Students are reminded by the puppets at the end of the show to “tell somebody” and are again reminded of who the helpers are in the school setting.
Ann Vernon, School Psychologist shares “the Puppet Show has been going on for years and I think it’s really important. Many students may not know that what is happening to them is not OK. It gives them permission to tell.”
Student Services staff during the show are also watching the students for reactions and making notes to check in with students who seem to be upset during the show. They also remind classroom teachers to be aware that students may come forward with concerns and questions and how to respond. The Puppet Show is a valuable and important part of third grade in our district and I hope the tradition continues.