604 20th Street SE, Cleveland, TN 37312 (423) 479-5121
SCHOOL and STAFF HIGHLIGHT:
Michelle Castleberry and Spring Play Productions
Michelle Castleberry is the librarian here at Blythe-Bower Elementary School. She has taught in Cleveland City Schools for six years. Before coming to Cleveland City Schools, Michelle taught in Hamilton County for one year and for five years in Bradley County in First Grade at Blue Springs Elementary School. She is married to Richard Castleberry and they have two children. Their son is Colin who attends Pellissippi State and is currently serving in Europe with ABANTE. Their daughter is Megan who is a graduate of Cleveland High School and attends MTSU. Michelle earned her Bachelor’s Degree from Trinity International University and her Master’s Degree from Mansfield University. She is the East Tennessee River Area Representative for TASL (Tennessee Association of School Librarians) and CEA Communications Committee Representative. Michelle has served as President for CEA for 2 years and was Co-President for one year.
In addition to her love for teaching, Michelle has a passion for the arts and is very skilled in drama. She assists Don Markham each year with the Fall Play at Cleveland High School, as well as, the Class Playoffs. She has served as the Drama Director at Westmore Church of God. Michelle is also involved with Stageworks of Cleveland and the Ocoee Theater Guild. She has played many leading roles with one of her favorites being M’lynn from Steel Magnolias.
This spring, Mrs. Castleberry organized 12 productions for the 3rd-5th grade students here at Blythe-Bower. This involved approximately 300 students. She involved every student by having the productions during the school day and invited family members to come to the performances. She and the students spent hours preparing for their time on stage. She wanted to insure that each student had a part and was able to learn about all aspects of stage productions…actors, stage hands, making props and sets, and even building their confidence. By incorporating this into the curriculum, Mrs. Castleberry was able to cover State Standards in the areas of Fluency, Comprehension, Speaking, and Presentation. Teachers were allowed to reserve seats for their classes to come and enjoy these productions throughout the week. Listed below are the titles of the productions.
Mrs. Prince: Cook’s Challenge
Mrs. Norman: Can Humpty be Saved
Mrs. Phillips: Dancing with Nursery Rhyme Stars
Mrs. Hicks: And the Dish Ran Away with the Spoon
Mr. Wood: Gods & Goddesses Bake Off
Ms. Somers: Demeter and Persephone
Mrs. Foxworth: Orpheus and Eurydice
Mrs. Walker: Pandora’s Box
Mrs. Johnson: My Rotten Red Headed Older Brother
Mrs. Durham: Daisy Head Mayzie
Mrs. Bailey: A Bad Case of Stripes
Mrs. Franklin: Hooway for Wodney Wat
Michelle and the whole cast are very grateful for some generous donations from teachers and parents that helped make this a reality. Michelle will be leading presentations at both the June and October TASL conferences on the process of this very rewarding endeavor.
After productions were complete, Zionjah Jarrett, Jakayla Jordan, and Torianna Hawkins were interviewed about the experience. First, the students were asked about what they had to do to prepare for the production. Their responses included: lots of practice, paying attention to all the details, and remembering our lines. Next, the students were asked to tell about their favorite part of this experience. They shared, “I got to yell at one of my classmates in the production”, “I liked dressing up in my costume”, and another said, “I enjoyed playing a fiddle while in character”. Third, the students were asked to share what they felt was the hardest part of the process to be ready to go on stage. Their answers were varied and included, memorizing lines, putting on a wig, and getting over a little stage fright. Lastly, the students were asked to think about what they felt they had learned from the experience that would benefit them in the future. One student shared that she learned to never talk to a stranger because it was part of the storyline. Another student said that in the future, she knew that she would have to be dedicated to practicing and memorizing lines for the productions she hoped to be a part. Finally, one shared that this experience began the process of overcoming the fear of getting up in front of an audience. The students expressed that they loved being a part of the program and looked forward to more in the future.