Tag Archives: time travelers

Time Travelers Bring Historical Figures To Life At McKinley Elementary

Students at William McKinley Elementary School were visited by five historical figures on Monday, October 12, as part of the ongoing Time Travelers program. John Burroughs High School students in Guy Myers’ Play Production class brought the characters of Sarah Goodson, Annie Sullivan, Sacagewea, John Muir and Paul Revere to life.

Madison Mayer portrayed pilgrim Sarah Goodson complete with an English accent and described what crossing the Atlantic on the Mayflower may have been like to first grade classrooms.

Madison Mayer describes the rocking of the Mayflower crossing the Atlantic Ocean. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Madison Mayer describes the rocking of the Mayflower crossing the Atlantic Ocean. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Helen Keller’s teacher, Annie Sullivan, who was herself blind, was portrayed by Maddie Seiffert. Second-graders learned about Annie Sullivan’s desire for an education in the face of challenging odds.

“This is the second year I’ve been lucky enough to play Annie Sullivan in Time Travelers,” commented Seiffert. “I love her; she’s a stubborn woman and I feel connected with her because of it.”

Helen Keller's teacher Annie Sullivan, acted by Maddie Seiffert, talks to second-graders at McKinley. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Helen Keller’s teacher Annie Sullivan, acted by Maddie Seiffert, talks to second-graders at McKinley. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

“Her story is incredible and one I first learned in Mr. Myers’ classroom while reading The Miracle Worker,” she added. “It feels like full circle, starting with reading her in his class and finally playing her.”

“It’s also remarkable because while I’m learning sign language now, so I can bring that to the classroom. I make the kids spell the alphabet and if they’re fantastic, they learn more like numbers and specific signs they want to know. It’s incredible to watch their eyes light up as their fingers spell and their love of learning just beaming from their faces. Playing Annie is one of my favorite parts of the year!”

Third-graders were visited by Sarah Weaver as Sacagewea, who talked about exploration of America on the Lewis and Clark expedition.

Griffin Dooley played the role of naturalist and preservationist John Muir. He told fourth-graders about early life in Scotland, his family’s emigration to a Wisconsin farm and his travels throughout the Sierras.

Sully Zack entered the fifth-grade classrooms complete with lantern and tricorn hat, reciting the famous Henry Longfellow poem “Midnight Ride of Paul Revere.” He, too, talked about life in his particular time period in America and some of his historical actions, engaging the kids with a little humor, too.

“Traveling through time to bring the story of Paul Revere and his Midnight Ride to the excited fifth grade students at McKinley Elementary was such an awesome experience!” Zack said. “The students were so welcoming and eager to learn.”

Sully Zack bought some humor to his Time Traveler character of Paul Revere. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Sully Zack bought some humor to his Time Traveler character of Paul Revere. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

“I loved being able to teach the class about the life of Paul Revere, but my favorite part had to be answering their questions– because in doing so, I  got to test not only my historical knowledge, but also my improvisation skills,” he went on to say. “I had such a blast, and I can’t wait to do it again.”

Teachers at McKinley Elementary prepared their students in advance for each Time Travelers’ visit. After each Time Traveler talk, elementary students then asked questions about the character and their life in America.

The Time Travelers program was created in 2003 by Joyce Costanza-Moskowitz and first visited Ralph Waldo Emerson Elementary School. Adult volunteers portrayed the Travelers until 2013 when Burroughs High School students first stepped into the roles, taking the program to Bret Harte Elementary, according to program coordinator Lisa Dyson.

Sarah Weaver as Sacagewea described life on the Lewis & Clark Expedition. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Sarah Weaver as Sacagewea described life on the Lewis & Clark Expedition. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Burbank High School students went to Miller in 2014 and McKinley Elementary joined the progam that same year. JBHS and BHS students visit elementary schools in Burbank in the fall and spring, portraying 10 different characters every year.

“As co-author of the book, Time Travelers: A Living History, along with Shiela Cavalluzzi, I remember our great passion for wanting to bring more history into our children’s classrooms… thus this program was born,” commented Costanza-Moskowitz. “I cannot tell you how gratifying it is to see our ‘baby’ is still vital and thriving in elementary schools today!”

Griffin Dooley portrayed naturalist John Muir for the Time Travelers program at McKinley Elementary. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Griffin Dooley portrayed naturalist John Muir for the Time Travelers program at McKinley Elementary. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

“Kids learn in so many just-being-talked-about kinds of ways, so putting a visual, auditory and tactile program like Time Travelers in front of them is or should be, a no-brainer,” she continued.

“Thank you to Lisa Dyson and the many others who came before her, in keeping Time Travelers alive and well. One might say you’re making history happen. Today!

Burbank High drama students plan to take the Time Travelers program back to Emerson, where the very first Time Travelers began.

Support from high school drama teachers Myers and BHS’ Ted DeVirgilis is vital to the success of the program, added Dyson.

She also thanked the participating elementary school PTAs for their ongoing support of the program since its inception.

“This is wonderful opportunity for drama students to research their character(s), perform that character multiple times in front of different audiences,and be able to improvise as their Time Traveler during Q & A sessions.,” commented Dyson. “It’s excellent real world training for students who wish to continue studies in theatre arts. And its fun!”

Bret Harte Elementary Students Visit With Time Travelers

Historical figures from American history stopped by Bret Harte Elementary School for a visit with students on Friday, November 14. John Burroughs High School drama students brought the characters to life during visits with every classroom in grades one through five.

Burrough senior Samantha Rubin portrays Sacagewea for Bret Harte Elementary students. (Photo Courtesy of Lisa Dyson)

Burrough senior Samantha Rubin portrays Sacagewea for Bret Harte Elementary students. (Photo Courtesy of Lisa Dyson)

Burroughs student Maddie Seiffert was Anne Sullivan, best known as the teacher and companion of Helen Keller.

Samantha Rubin portrayed Sacagawea, a Native American woman who accompanied explorers Meriwether Lewis and Captain William Clark on their exploration of the northwestern United States and was vital to the success of the expedition.

Tenley Patterson was pilgrim Sarah Goodson and Brennan Flynn portrayed Captain William Clark. Alex Aston acted the role of California’s own naturalist, author and preservationist John Muir.

Time Travelers is a program developed in 2007 by Joyce Costanza-Moskowitz and Sheila Cavalliuzi at Bret Harte Elementary in which historical figures visit with students, talking about their lives and answering quesitons.

Volunteer parents had originally portrayed the roles of the historical figures. However, two years ago Bret Harte PTA began a partnership with the JBHS drama program and its director Guy Myers.

Burroughs sophomore Maddie Seiffert portrays Anne Sullivan, Helen Keller's teacher, for the Time Travelers program at Bret Harte Elementary. (Photo Courtesy of Lisa Dyson)

Burroughs sophomore Maddie Seiffert portrays Anne Sullivan, Helen Keller’s teacher, for the Time Travelers program at Bret Harte Elementary. (Photo Courtesy of Lisa Dyson)

Students in Myers’ Play/Production class now bring history to the Bret Harte Elementary classrooms, having portrayed famous American people including Elizabeth Blackwell, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington and Betsy Ross.

The Time Travelers program has been so successful that McKinley and Disney Elementary Schools will partner with JBHS to bring the experience to their schools in the spring of 2015.

Burbank High School students visit Miller Elementary for the Time Travelers program and will add a stop by Emerson Elementary in the spring of 2015, as well.

“The program benefits everyone involved, from the student actors who are gaining real world experience by having to research and become their characters to the students who enjoy learning about these famous figures,” said Burroughs PTA Art Chair Lisa Dyson.

“Time Travelers is a great opportunity for the kids at Bret Harte to learn about history in a hands on environment,” commented Bret Harte PTA President Shannon Marando. “The students are always excited to see the actors walk into the classrooms and talk about what they did back in their time.”

Burroughs senior Tenley Patterson brings pilgrim Sarah Goodson to life for the Time Travelers program at Bret Harte Elementary. (Photo Courtesy of Lisa Dyson)

Burroughs senior Tenley Patterson brings pilgrim Sarah Goodson to life for the Time Travelers program at Bret Harte Elementary. (Photo Courtesy of Lisa Dyson)

“The students have the opportunity to ask questions and learn more about a time in history they have been studying,” Marando added. “It’s a time for the teachers to sit back and observe the students and how much they are learning.”

“I get as excited as the students before a visit!” said third grade teacher Linda Young. “I like to prepare children with enough background knowledge so they can ask appropriate questions. Many times I use primary source materials and artifacts. We also spend time with new and interesting vocabulary.”

“After reading Sacagawea’s biography we were very interested in knowing what wapato and camas roots were,” she continued. “A computer search helped inform us and contributed to our overall learning.”

“Last year, one of my former second grade students came dressed as Anne Sullivan,” Young added. “I didn’t even recognize her because she was so authentic looking! She impressed me with all of her content knowledge and how well prepared she was for the role.”

“Time Travelers has enhanced the children’s understanding of important people from the past,” concluded Young. “I only wish that we could have the travelers visit us for a longer period of time.”