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Master storyteller shares tradition with Liberty students



Published: Sat, April 16, 2011 @ 12:01 a.m.

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Storyteller Jocelyn Dabney of Youngstown is enthusiastic about the African-American oral tradition. She presented a program Friday at Liberty High School for pre-kindergarten through fourth-graders from E.J. Blott Elementary School.

  Jocelyn Dabney Story Teller

Jocelyn Dabney is a story teller in the African-American oral tradition.

Jocelyn Dabney is a story teller in the African-American oral tradition.

By LINDA M. LINONIS

linonis@vindy.com

LIBERTY

It’s the message that drives storyteller Jocelyn Dabney. And the message — be it creativity, individuality, determination, duty or another attribute — is geared to the audience.

The message Friday morning from

Dabney to some 150 pre-kindergarten through second-grade students at a 9 a.m. program and another 150 third- and fourth-graders at a 10 a.m. presentation was multifaceted and a whole lot of fun. The students attend E.J. Blott Elementary School here.

The Youngstown woman, accompanied on the drum by her husband, Robert, began her presentation with a bit of background.

“Oral tradition is important in African-American tradition,” she said. The call and response figures into this.

In a poem about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Dabney called out “Dr. King,” and the students responded with “was a man” then everyone added “who saw the mountain top.”

Dabney ended each stanza with “glory” and the kids called back “alleluia.” The poem took Dr. King to the top of the mountain, where Dabney told the children about “free at last.”

The students responded enthusiastically to Dabney, who engaged them with hand-and-body movements and had them follow along. She asked them to “snap their fingers and shake their shoulders.” The students caught on quickly with responses and mirrored Dabney’s inflections.

Dabney told them the story of “sody salyratus,” a key ingredient in biscuit making. In succession, a mother sent her daughter, son and Papa to the store to get the ingredient, but on their trip home, they each took the same shortcut and were eaten by a bear.

Finally, she sent a squirrel to the store and he, too, was ambushed by the bear but ran up a tree.

“Now the squirrel had to use his brain because the bear could climb,” Dabney said. The squirrel climbed out on a small branch, and the bear followed and fell and out popped the daughter, son and Papa. Dabney told students it was important to have a plan.

The “Elephant Walk” song was a delightful exercise of words and motion as students followed Dabney in motions mimicking an elephant’s walk and swinging trunk.

In a light-hearted way, a story about how a farmer tried to trick an eagle into thinking he was chicken sent children the message about being true to one’s self.

In the end, the eagle was drawn to the sun, stretched his wings and soared. Dabney urged children “not to be bound to the ground” but be eagles and “fly on, fly on.”

Her husband added to the presentation by singing “I Believe.”

Dabney told children that “stories are good for the heart but best shared with someone.”

Dabney is a retired Youngstown school librarian and her husband, a Delphi retiree. She began storytelling in 1990, took a class at Kent State University and eventually earned a master’s degree in storytelling at Eastern Tennessee University.

Dabney said she hoped the storytelling would “help children use their imaginations.”

Fran Klanica, Title I teacher, arranged the program that related in part to Black History Month in February. She noted the program took place now because of snow days.


Comments

1TylerDurden(367 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

There is a Master's Degree for story telling? Yikes.

Should the storyteller be allowed to envoke religious responses such as "alleluia" in a public school? It means "praise the Lord". Imagine a liberal commingling the sacred separation of church and state. Someone's head just exploded at Berkeley.

Alleluia.

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2Freeatlast(1991 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

GOOD JOB Jocelyn and THANK YOU

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3Lifes2Short(3878 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

".....and eventually earned a master’s degree in storytelling at Eastern Tennessee University."

Master's Degree in storytelling? Wow that is amazing......

"“Oral tradition is important in African-American tradition,” she said. "

Important in African-American? I thought "oral tradition" was important in all folklore traditions not just African-American.

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4Jocelyn(2 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

It is unbelievable to me that people would take the time to find the "negatives" in such a positive story. You see a picture of children having a good time and for some reason instead of making you smile it infuriates you. That is really sad to me.
However, I will keep educating, entertaining, and encouraging people with my positive stories.

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5walter_sobchak(1950 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

ETSU is the lone university to offer a master's degree in storytelling. I, too, didn't know such a degree existed. It appears that Jocelyn is able to use her higher education to excite some young kids into learning some valuable life lessons in a entertaining way. Most early education throughout history was done with storytelling to young children. We do know that not every child learns in the same way or at the same speed. Thus, programs like this can spark some interest for a youngster. Education is for a lifetime but some just refuse to continue to educate themselves past a certan age. I say "kudos" for thinking outside the box.

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6Freeatlast(1991 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

Jocelyn please do not listen to the bed wetting negative naysayers here . It is the only life they have is to put down other people who do things.. Keep up the good work and enjoy your life .

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7grand4dad(197 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

Jocelyn,
Thanks for what you do. It is obvious the children enjoyed it. We need more folks like you to provide a wide range of information and experiences for our children and grandchildren. Ignore the negatives and continue to keep educating, entertainng and encouraging others.

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8TylerDurden(367 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

I was in no way degrading what the woman did for the children. I applaud her ability to stimulate thought through her own natural storytelling ability.
I was just curious how she was allowed to envoke religious themes in a public school setting.
If that is perceived as negative then maybe I'll come pee on you, rather than all over my rubber sheets.

Alleluia.

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9Stan(9923 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

I stimulate thought and preach Christianity along with chastising immoral behavior . It drives the left wing liberals wild . . ..

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10jodi(6 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

GREAT JOB JOCELYN, & BOB YOU BOTH ALWAYS DO A WONDERFUL JOB. YOU ARE VERY ENCOURAGING, EDUCATIONAL, CREATIVE, UNDERSTANDING, ENLIGHTENING, INSPIRING, AND GOOD FRIENDS. THANKS FOR BEING THERE!

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11Lifes2Short(3878 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

Why is it you ask a question it's put out as negative, wrong, bed wetting (not sure why someone would say such a childish thing but then again, wait... nevermind). All I asked is why does it have to be one race and not all races. (And I see noone answered the question) I thought we were all equal. Thats all, no bigger, no negativity, no complaining, just a simple question. And as far as the Degree in storytelling, well you can't say thats amazing because you didn't know there was such a thing. That is wrong to. Wow what a sad world we live in.

Didn't Martin Luther King Jr say:
"We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools."

Sad, you make a innocent comment and it's twisted all around. So Amazing.

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