It began with the desire to help teachers expand their skills in the classroom. 25 Years and thousands of stories later, the South Mountain Community College Storytelling Institute celebrates its 25th anniversary on October 14.
What began as a specialized program has grown and now continues to grow throughout the community.
Faculty Director and Institute founder, Liz Warren, described how storytelling asks of students to use their own heritage, culture, and identity to connect with others.
“The institute first began as a way to help students learn better,” shared Warren, “and it led us, professors, to become storytellers ourselves, and then to create programs to pass down the art of storytelling to students in our classrooms” she added, as she shared how the institute came to be.
The initial goal to help students connect and learn was achieved, and made its mark by making SMCC the first to offer an academic certificate in storytelling in the nation.
“It was a privilege to help bring light into this art form,” said Warren. “I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to place storytelling at the center of my life and career.”
The SMCC Storytelling Institute is considered a pillar of the community, mentioned Dr. Travis May, Storytelling faculty professor.
“It became a foundation to the vibrant and diverse community of storytellers in Phoenix,” said May, as he reflected on the projects the institute has been part of.
SMCC storytelling faculty helped build the Arizona Republic's Storytellers Project, and have previously worked with the Mesa Arts Center, the City of Phoenix, the Vitalyst Health Foundation and many other community organizations to build a strong storytelling community.
In 2020, the SMCC Storytelling Institute is in the initial planning phase for Tellers and Teachers, a program that will create a searchable standards-based website of recorded stories, and will connect storytellers with classroom teachers to provide art experiences for school children.
“I'm proud of SMCC and the district for providing us with the resources and foundation to grow and thrive” said Warren. “Turning 25 years today, means so much to all of us in the Institute, and we hope to celebrate 50 years in the future.”
The SMCC Storytelling Institute will be celebrating from October 14 – 31. Community members are invited to sign the digital card for the institute: Sign Here!