Storytellers at Fox Prairie

Andy Talley, a storyteller with a focus on historical character interpretation, donned the clothing of an 18th Century French-Indian fur trader to regale Fox Prairie Elementary students with his stories.

There’s nothing quite like a good story, and last month, students in all three elementary schools in the Stoughton Area School District got a chance to hear a few in person, ranging from the adventures of an 18th-century fur trader to folktales from Puerto Rico.

The three schools celebrated the art of storytelling with three professional storytellers on Nov. 14.

Students from Kegonsa were treated to tales from storytelling naturalist Coral Conant Gilles, who tells folklore, personal tales and stories with a nature connection, according to her Facebook page. Kegonsa students were able to collaborate with her storytelling, submitting ideas she could incorporate into the stories she told. Gilles also told folktales from around the world, including Puerto Rico.

Andy Talley, who has worked as a naturalist and interpreter in museum, forest preserve and conservation settings, wore the garb of an 18th-century French-Indian fur trader to tell stories that included some surprise endings.

Tracy Chipman has a repertoire “with a wild and wide open global collection of folklore, wonder-wisdom tales, myth, personal narrative and original material,” according to her website. She spent time at Sandhill and was also able to visit with students during lunchtime so they had a chance to ask questions.

“Storytelling builds trust, invokes imaginations, heals, connects us to our shared humanity, strengthens literacy and develops listening and problem solving skills,” Chipman states on her website. “Storytelling encourages more fulfilling relationships within families, communities, with life, with the magnificent world around us and most importantly with ourselves.”

The three storytellers were connected with Stoughton schools through fellow storyteller and area resident Kay Weeden and Sandhill literacy specialist and instructional coach Molly Grotenhuis, who was able to bring in the three storytellers through a grant from Stoughton Area Community Foundation.

– Derek Spellman contributed to this story