BRISTOL - Rosie Vojtek, Ivy Drive Elementary School principal, will be honored at Connecticut Storytelling Festival & Conference for her support of storytelling residencies in Bristol schools.
The Connecticut Storytelling Center honors three people at its annual festival who have made “extraordinary contributions” to the Connecticut storytelling community. The 37th annual event will take place Friday-Saturday, April 27 and 28, at the College Center at Crozier-Williams, Connecticut College, New London.
Vojtek will receive the Spencer Shaw Educator’s Award, named for the branch manager in the Hartford Public Library who was also a program and storytelling specialist in the Brooklyn Public Library. Shaw was considered an international authority in library service for children and was a professor at the University of Washington.
The Connecticut Storytelling Center credits Vojtek as the first principal in Bristol “to see the value of storytelling as a way to enhance literacy and helped to spread the word to her colleagues.” As a result, the center now has a full-blown “Start With Stories” program in five Bristol elementary schools.
Vojtek said she began bringing storytellers to Ivy Drive several years ago, through grants from the center matched by the Barnes Foundation.
“It’s been such a great program,” she said. “They started out with kindergarten and first grade and now they’ve expanded it through third grade. They usually do it about five or six times throughout the year, with different grades at different times.”
“The storytellers come in, they do music and they tell a lot of different kinds of stories. What’s really exciting for the kids is that they get to hear different people and different types of stories, and it has really helped with their vocabulary. It has helped with them being able to tell stories in the classroom,” she said.
“There was one year where we were able to do an evening representation with parents, because they had additional funding. We had a really nice turnout,” she added.
The festival itself sounds like fun,” she said. “I can’t wait. I’ll probably go on Friday and all day Saturday, and then they have their awards Saturday night.”
A native Oregonian, Vojtek earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Oregon State University. She taught in the Winton-Dillard School District in Oregon for 11 years before earning her master’s doctorate in curriculum and instruction from the University of Oregon.
She then became principal of Joseph Gale Elementary in Forest Grove, Oregon, and director of instruction for Oregon City public schools before moving to Connecticut in 1999. She has been principal at Ivy Drive for 19 years now.
Vojtek is currently president for the Connecticut Association of Schools (CAS) and received the 2016 Excellence in Education Award from the Connecticut State Education Department. Under her leadership Ivy Drive was named 2010 Elementary Exemplary School of the Year by CAS.
In addition, she has served as the social chair for the Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education (VWBPE) Conference. She serves as host for the bi-weekly CASConversation Podcasts (http://cas.casciac.org/?p=13846) and co-authored the 2009 Corwin Press book “Motivate! Inspire! Lead! 10 Strategies for Building Collegial Learning Communities” with her husband Bob.
The other awards being given out at the festival are the Barbara Reed Award, named for the founder and artistic director of the Connecticut Storytelling Center, for distinguished and outstanding service to the Connecticut storytelling community.
This year’s recipient is Bill Graustein, a New Haven resident who serves on the board of the William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund and other organizations, for his use of storytelling in the community with diverse groups of people who aspire to civic leadership.
The Kate McClelland Librarian’s Award is named for the person known as “Mrs. Mac,” who served for 29 years as a librarian at Old Greenwich’s Perrot Library and was also vice-president/president-elect of the Association of Library Services to Children.
Kathy Jarombek, who is now the Children’s Librarian at Perrot Library, is the recipient for nurturing professional storytelling and storytellers in Connecticut libraries.
For more information and a schedule of festival events, visit www.connstorycenter.org .
Susan Corica can be reached at 860-973-1802 or firstname.lastname@example.org.