The Power of Storytelling

by: Nancy L. Spencer, Head of School
The recent announcement of this year’s Academy Awards nominees has me thinking about the power of storytelling. I love going to the movies; it’s one of those activities that I have sorely missed and it is high on my to-do list post-COVID. In fact, the movies, TV shows and plays that I am most drawn to all tend to have compelling storylines. I simply love stories; I am curious about people, so being drawn into someone else’s life - on screen or in person - satisfies my urge to experience new things and see the world in a different way.        
 
Last week, I was walking around campus and wandered by a group of fourth-graders sitting outside, listening to a book being read by their teacher. At their invitation, I joined the class and quietly absorbed the plot which was about the heroine of the story, a recent immigrant to America, grappling with learning new tasks. Our Shorecrest fourth graders were so engaged, asking questions, making observations and clearly enjoying the story. This interchange is why I take such pleasure in my weekly reading to the Alpha and JK students. I love watching how students think. The comments and questions from our youngest children never cease to amaze me. Somehow, no matter what the topic of the book is, we always seem to end up talking about their pets!
 
Over spring vacation I was able to spend time with a former colleague and dear friend who has been teaching and coaching for over 50 years. A veteran English teacher and swim coach, he is also an expert storyteller. I relish hearing stories about his life, his family, the summer lake house, his students and his athletes. In his thick New Hampshire accent, he would recount story after story, often some wry vignette about a swimmer, always with the exact race time attached to the name. His vivid description and imagery made the experiences come alive to me. We don’t get to see each other often, but when we do get together, I always look forward to listening to his stories because they consistently expand my horizons. 
 
This year, I have had a chance to have many one-on-one meetings with various members of the Shorecrest community. Early in the conversation, I will often work in the question: “What brought you to Shorecrest?” (This is my more-polite way of asking, “So, what’s your story?”) I have heard such amazing narratives. Even the brief stories I heard recounted from families in the recent Carline Coffee resonated with me. Hearing about the backgrounds of faculty members and families has been an incredible privilege. These stories have given me insight into others’ experiences and provides helpful context in my growing understanding of the Shorecrest community and culture.  
 
The kind of curiosity which is slated by good storytelling is one of the joyful experiences of life. If you have time, I would love to hear your story. Please don’t hesitate to reach out and set up a time to meet and talk with me.
 
All the best,
Nancy

Shorecrest

5101 First Street Northeast
St Petersburg, FL 33703
Phone: (727) 522-2111  |  Fax: (727) 527-4191
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Shorecrest Preparatory School is a private, non-sectarian, coeducational, college preparatory day school for students preschool through high school, located in St. Petersburg, Florida.