Tracking Student Growth

contributed by ST Artist, Jenna Murphy

Only a few weeks of rehearsals remain before the community performances of “Worlds Apart” and “Destination Unknown,” two pieces being devised with sixth-grade artists at Montgomery Village Middle School. Over the past two months, we have been collecting research for their plays through writing prompts, group discussions and movement exploration exercises. ​​


MVMS students reflecting on their personal experiences after having had a workshop with author Ellen Oh about race and representation in literature.

The artists returned from their Spring Break to the first draft of their plays’ scripts. They were very excited to see their words woven into something so complex and thoughtful. They took pride in recognizing their individual contributions within the group’s piece. Here is a sneak peak!

“ALL: Blink.

ARTIST: When I was first born, I looked at my mother. Saw her eyes.

ARTIST: Where am I?

ARTIST: I remember the doctor’s hands touching me.

(Baby cries)

ARTIST: I didn’t like it. It was too cold.

ARTIST: When I was first born, I didn’t know where I would go.

ALL: Blink. Blink.

ARTIST: Once I was three years old, I could imagine the littlest things.

ARTIST: I was a dreamer,

ARTIST: A wisher,

ARTIST: A magic bean buyer.

ALL: Blink. Blink. Blink.

ARTIST: At five, I read my first book

ARTIST: My mother’s and father’s eyes teared up as I read every word.

ARTIST: They waved to me as I started my first day of school

ARTIST: I met my best friend

ARTIST: I became the class clown

ARTIST: I reached up to the sky, wishing to grow up faster.

ALL: Blink. Blink. Blink. Blink.

ARTIST: I’m ten years old.

ARTIST: My mom told my sister and I we were going to have a baby brother.

ARTIST: I had to move away from my school, my best friend, my old life.

ARTIST: My parents told me they were getting a divorce.

ARTIST: I was scared of the challenges ahead.

ARTIST: I wanted to disappear.

ARTIST: I wanted to run away.

ARTIST: I wanted life to be perfect.

ARTIST: When you’re little, people tell you lies to make you feel better.

ARTIST: We look up to people that we think a perfect bodies and perfect lives and we think we can be just like them.

ARTIST: We all want things to go our way.

ALL: Blink. Blink. Blink. Blink. Blink.

ARTIST: And now we’re here.”

-The “Destination Unknown” Ensemble at Montgomery Village Middle School


We can’t wait to show you the finished products in May!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Creative Poems Build Bridges

In collaboration with Montgomery Village Middle School, Montgomery Community Media, Montgomery County Public Libraries and their nonprofit partner, Friends of the Library Montgomery County, Story Tapestries has been delivering programs thanks to funding support from the Trawick Foundation’s TeamUp grant program. Students have been learning about the value of teamwork, improving their literacy and critical thinking skills while increasing their confidence and desire to actively engage with their peers and educators.


“Building Bridges” program participants putting their poetry in motion

ST Artist, Jenna Murphy, is actively working on the project and reports:

“Building Bridges” is off and running at Montgomery Village Middle School. We have nearly 40 students in this after-school program that meets bi-weekly. In this program, we teach students how to write dynamic and thought-provoking personal narratives, which we then weave together to create a student-performed, student-written play. The titles of their plays will be “Worlds Apart” and “Destination Unknown.” We are hard at work creating material for these socially-minded pieces. Here is a taste of what our young artists have been creating!

The following poem came about from a a poetry form called “I Am.” As a class, we discussed the most creative ways we could fill out this form that guides artists to create an autobiographical poem. The artists were challenged to avoid the obvious or the cliche, and to instead use metaphor and descriptive language to write a poem just as unique as they are. Here is a particularly outstanding example.

“I am a wave bounding onto shore with confidence and pride
I wonder who put me on this earth and if they’re on my side
I hear the soft whisper of the wind calling out to me
I see an uproar of life in every animal and tree
I want to be heard and most of all recognized
I am a wave bounding into shore with confidence and pride
I pretend to be Maya Angelou and above all rise
I feel the sweet home of nature and see it with my eyes
I touch the very stars and sky above
I worry that when I grow up I will feel a lack of love
I cry for my father and his father before him
I am curious about heaven and if I’ll ever see it’s rim
I understand that God is real trust me I know
I say that I believe in me but that is just a show
I dream about a world where I don’t have to hide
I try to be myself in my every single stride
I hope to see a better future the odds are on my side
For I am a wave bounding onto shore with confidence and pride”

-Sixth Grade Artist from Montgomery Village Middle School

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Welcome Melissa Killeleagh to Tuesdays with StoryTapestries!

This week, we are welcoming long-time friend Melissa Killeleagh as a regular contributor to our weekly Facebook LIVE series, “Tuesdays with StoryTapestries!” Tune in Tuesday, 12/4 at 7:00pm ET on Facebook for Melissa’s first video.  We recently sat down with Melissa to get her story:

Profile photo 2017

Melissa Killeleagh is a “mompreneur” with a vision for adding value to those around her. Life truly began for her just before turning 40, with the birth of her son. With undergraduate and graduate degrees from Ithaca College and Binghamton University, she worked in public finance for 10 years before trading in full-time work for her part-time business in social marketing. While having two incomes was great, Melissa felt that having more time to truly live her life was even better. She gave up on society’s suggested “mileposts” for success in life and began to design a life guided by her own values, relationships, and the notion that “we make a living by what we get, and we make a life by what we give.” Just when she started making plans, God laughed, and along came Jack. Melissa says that he IS her greatest gift. Her passion and purpose are building strong relationships, creating dynamic communities, inspiring leadership from the heart, and being a catalyst for the critical shift in paradigm our world needs right now, which Jack inspires her to do daily.  When not chasing her toddler or her dreams, you’ll find Melissa snuggling with her fur baby; reading; writing; dancing in the living room; conspiring with energy healers and thought leaders; listening to, or recording, podcasts; and, enjoying life outdoors.





What does she have to do with Story Tapestries?




This story weaves together in several ways.  First, mutual friends Karen & Stephen Beals, who also have hosted ‘Tuesdays with Story Tapestries,’ inspired Melissa to reach out to Arianna to learn more about her work and interview her for her podcast series ‘The Melissa Killeleagh Show,’ which is hosted by Fingerlakes1 TV and can be found on YouTube.  Then, in September, Melissa was invited by Artistic Director Angela Daddabbo to take a 12-week class at Auburn Public Theater that uses Julia Cameron’s ‘Artist’s Way’ to help a creative cluster of individuals come together and ‘recover’ their creative selves.  This experience initiated a series of conversations between Melissa and Arianna around the evolution of our stories, how art & creativity come into play, and inspired some ideas for ‘Tuesdays with Story Tapestries’ so stay tuned.  This work will only continue to unfold into a myriad of collaborations!





In the meantime, Melissa is also passionate about leveraging her network marketing business to help raise funds for organizations she loves.  Please feel free to shop over 450 pure, safe, and beneficial vegan, gluten-free and cruelty-free health & wellness products, from baby care to anti-aging, nutrition to cosmetics, online at for the month of December and Melissa will donate her full commissions to Story Tapestries!  When you shop online, enter ‘Arianna Ross’ as the host at checkout and you’ll see ‘Purchase with a Purpose for Story Tapestries’ pop up!


A special THANK YOU to Melissa for joining our LIVE video series, and for supporting us through her generous fundraising initiative!



Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Rhyming and Rhythms in the Mountains of West Virginia

After our recent series of Professional Development Workshops in West Virginia the week of October 16th-20th, we asked artist Bomani Armah to share his experience:

Bomani PD at Suncrest (33)

“The ultimate goal for me as an artist and educator is to make sure my art, ideas and techniques live past me. It has matured from the time of a young artist of making sure everyone knows my name, to wanting to let other artists and educators skip the bumps in the road we inevitably come across trying to be effective communicators in our mediums and in our classrooms. The best, and most fun way for me to do that now is by doing professional development classes. Due to my work with Story Tapestries, I’ve
been able to spread these techniques and hard earned shortcuts with over 300 educators for a week while working with teachers and education majors in the Morgantown, West Virginia area. I hope this is the beginning of a fruitful relationship.

Bomani PD at West Preston (3)  Bomani PD in Harrison Co (46)







Bomani PD at Suncrest (7)

Being in front of a group of education  majors is thrilling. I remember the idealism and the enthusiasm. I remember recovering for all night study sessions and parties and trying to act educated and civil the next day. At least that was me. These students in Ms. Martucci’s and Ms. Satterfield’s class didn’t seem to have problems at all as we did two three hour crash courses in the art of teaching creative writing through Hip-Hop. I most enjoy the speed-through version of hip-hop history I do with these students who are younger than my favorite albums. We often get mad at the next generation for not knowing or understanding the history of the cultures they are a part of, without ever taking the time to tell them this history. Of all the things I imparted to the WV students here, I hope I passed on my love of using popular music and culture as a teaching tool. There will be a time when teaching using hip-hop won’t have the same cultural cache as it does now, but the technique of teaching through the lens of popular culture will always be relevant. Hopefully some Mountaineers will be a part of the next wave of art integration in the classroom.


On top of sharing great energy with about 100 education majors in Morgantown, I got to make rhymes and b-boy/b- girl stances with teachers in Preston County and Monongalia  County. I also got to debut my PreK-through-1st-grade workshop in Harrison County. The teachers were all incredibly receptive and enthusiastic, and I got several offers to come back and do residencies and assemblies. I’m already looking forward to my next trip to West Virginia.”





We’d like to thank The Art Museum at West Virginia University for joining the project this year by providing coaching and field trips to participating classrooms; Monongalia, Preston, and Harrison Counties for welcoming our Bomani in to their schools to work with their teachers; and the Department of Curriculum & Instruction at WVU and Open Circle Theatre for partnering to make this program a reality. This program is provided under a contract with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Bomani PD at West Preston (37)

VSA Logo 2017_18

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Clear out old electronics and support education with one click!

Need to make room before the holidays?
UPCYCLE old electronics!

Old cell phones, abandoned digital cameras, outdated laptops – you name it, they take it and turn your “junk” into a gift that keeps on giving!
Just visit our page on CauseNetwork, and with the click of a button you can select the items you want to get rid of and print off a shipping form. Follow the simple instructions to schedule a UPS pick-up or to drop off your package at the nearest center, and before you know it you’ll receive a tax-deductible receipt to see how much your old gear has contributed to supporting educational arts-based programs for our communities most in need.
In two easy steps you can liberate your junk drawer and contribute to new success stories!

November To-Do list:

November 14 – Join via Facebook LIVE for Tuesdays with Story Tapestries featuring Arts Integration Expert, Pat Klos; 7pm EST
November 21 – Join via Facebook LIVE for Tuesdays with Story Tapestries featuring a special Thanksgiving message; 7pm EST
November 23 – HAPPY THANKSGIVING! Enjoy yummy food, precious moments with family and friends, and take time to reflect on the things you’re grateful for.
November 25 & 26 – We’ll be ready to wrap your gifts at Clarksburg Premium Outlets! Stop by or better yet, volunteer to support this special fundraiser during the biggest shopping weekend of the year!
November 27Shop deals on Cyber Monday using CauseNetwork and a percentage of each purchase will go to Story Tapestries – with no extra effort or dollars on your part! Prefer shopping on Amazon? Use AmazonSmile!
November 28 – #GivingTuesday as become an international movement to support non-profits working hard to support people in need. Would you choose Story Tapestries this #GivingTuesday?

With your tax-deductible contribution, you’re helping children learn how to read, write, and communicate better, how to overcome adversities and to connect with the joy of learning. Not only are you helping students, you’re also supporting the educators that work with them each day of the school year and the parents and caretakers that support youth at home and throughout the community.

Can’t afford to give dollars?
Check out all these ways you can support Story Tapestries!

We need willing volunteers to support in-person events as well as online activities that can be completed remotely. Interested? Contact us now and we’ll get you started!

You can shop over 1,000 stores online, get the same prices and deals, and the retailer will donate up to 10% of every purchase.

Shop for an item from our Wish List and use AmazonSmile so your gift gives twice!

Winter vacation plans? Book your travel and hotels and generate donations for Story Tapestries, Inc. at the same time.

Donate your used electronics to Story Tapestries, Inc. and the proceeds from the re-sale of those products will be delivered on your behalf, and you get a tax write off.

Whatever you can do to support, every bit helps!

We thank you for your ongoing support!

Coming Up with Story Tapestries:

Join us online
Tuesday, November 14th at 7pm EST!
Next Tuesday, Arts Integration specialist, Pat Klos, will lead our
Tuesdays with Story Tapestries – LIVE on Facebook!

Save this link in your calendar and click to tune in!
LIKE our page and you’ll receive notice when a new LIVE video begins.

Story Tapestries, a 501c3, is a leading education organization that supports youth and community development utilizing:

  • arts
  • literacy strategies
  • STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math)
  • social development

Collaborative programs use innovative methods to prepare tomorrow’s workforce and develop sustainable community support systems.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

WHO ARE YOU? Poetry and Truth – by artist Regie Cabico


– By artist and workshop leader Regie Cabico:LAYC Logo

My second summer semester at Latin American Youth Center brought 16 young adult teens divided into two groups: The Road Runners and The Money Makers. The students were motivated to listen and to share their work in an intimate sunny conference room. My goal is to have students listen to each other, creating a supportive ensemble.




In the lessons I focused on speaking with imagery. In pairs, students asked WHO ARE YOU? I encouraged students to transform themselves into things in nature and to consider that when we “lie” in poetry- we use these “truths” as metaphors, similes and hyperboles. I was blessed to have the in-class support of Abi and Tina, who are naturally gifted writers themselves. Students got to work with their mentors in a collaborative way.

20881898_10155430402150180_7971344255273097857_n (1) (1)

On our second workshop I had Slam Poet Dwayne B. from Metro Teen AIDS perform work to prepare students for the culminating event. Little “T” said it was a highlight. Seeing a resident from Anacostia speak candidly and with humor, highlighting the neighborhood.



20881920_10155430401550180_1496448345581225059_n (1) (1)


Because the students were so in tune with each other I wanted to culminate with an exercise I rarely get to do because it requires, deep self examination of their life and possessions. The prompt is “If I Should Die Tonight,” a powerful way to celebrate life not in the depressed sense.




We listed what our valuable personal attributes, talents & tangible objects of value were along with instructions to the people we cherish, who we leave behind. Courtney has always been supportive of the workshop but she pulled herself into a candid powerful poem.

20840735_10155430401750180_7880610272470514274_n (1)




At the culminating event all the students read their work and Courtney started to write a new poem off the cuff. A lot of these students never saw themselves as poets, but in the course of the workshop, they took the assignment and composed raps and stories. They went inward and gradually got up to stand on stage for the first time.




The poems are small life celebrations, accelerated at the Busboys & Poets poetry reading. Students were asked to remember significant people in their life. Abi got full praise as a teacher. Faith saying, This was the best educational experience of her life. Courtney, said I was mad cool and funny. Here is a small sampling of their work.


20882952_467248687007416_1199119438439841547_n (1)


This program was made possible by funding from Alternate ROOTS, in partnership with LAYC.








I runaway from your hands

Even when all you did was hold me close

You gave me the proposition that you’d wait

I’ve been told relationships weren’t for me so

picked up that idea and ran with it.

To me a relationship was a waiting fest.

No not that kind

 The one where you wait till the other

gives into infidelity

But you held me close

Even when I would hurt you with my words

thorns of a rose.

Now let’s sit down and talk.

Its been 2 years that we’ve been on this

run now let’s walk

now hold my hand.

Our love is never ending like a wrist band.

Stay close.

Even when you feel like all I bring is a fall.

At times we will be lost as if we’re on the road.

But I’ll never give in to the negativity we’re told


Doctor Stupid says,

I am just a girl.

I am the youth.

I am this generation.

I am that outcast

or red in a room

full of white

that you can spot

from a peek of a window.

I am what inspires

the next generation.

But some are cowards

are so chicken

to stand up

from above

You see, I am not your circle.

I am a square.

These adults cannot compare

to what we bring to the table

so go ahead

adults sling your shot.

Us youth

can make mountains move

We can flip 7 dollars to 70

and that’s a guarantee

We kick aside the hassle

that you adults bring.

We are walking dreams crossing

mountains and bridges with flames.

you can see as if we were dragons.

you see as you sit on toilets.

We are trying

and that’s more

than enough.

We light a fire

so strong smoke

becomes your

favorite incense.


I am a 17 year old girl with a drive so strong.

I have patience so strong with a mother who’s bipolar.

I don’t believe in the 4 years of college. At the age of 11

I was told I’d start having seizures at the age of 16.

Never once have I had a seizure. I hustle

because I know what it’s like to wonder

where you’ll sleep tonight. I have come across death.

I conquered my pill addiction. I believe in God.



If I should die tonight

tell Lizzy that I’m worth a graffiti.

If I should die tonight tell mama

I made a promise and I kept it.

If I should die tonight let my brother know

I’m sorry I used his paint ball gun and tell him

I always knew where it was.

If I should die tonight tell my whole family thank you for

adopting me into this wonderful life.

If I should die tonight please tell Bonnie,

I’ll always be her Clyde.

If I should die tonight tell my little cousins

that they don’t want to be like me, don’t want to see

all the things I’ve seen.


If I should die tonight

make sure everyone knows that

this time it wasn’t my choice.

that I was ready fro the next

day of life with a different pair

of eyes to be helpful & productive

not incognito and depressed.

If I should die tonight make

sure that my room isn’t dirty.

That’s always been a big thing.

Everything needs to be

in the proper place.

My mom’s number isn’t hard to find.

Maybe you can ask the group home

staff for it, or call the last foster

home I was in or even go to 7***

Cypress Court where her number is

written nicely on the whiteboard that

hangs on the refrigerator in the house

that once was my home.

Just 2 years ago finding her number

wouldn’t be a problem because it

would be under parent/guardian

but now… Maybe not so much.

Make sure she knows all those

missed phone calls

were great conversations

she missed out on.


It’s been a hard day

I’ve been waiting for night

Change out of my street clothes

Get in my bed and write

I write about my day

and how I feel

I write about anything

Just as long as its real

I lay in bed and try to relax

While all these thoughts

in my mind slowly collapse

In the morning I wake

long and deep breaths

before I take the steps

that are needed to take

To get on my feet

and strive to eat

to get my bread together

so I can find a permanent

place to sleep

My whole entire life

I’ve been the black sheep

At least now I’m that

sheep that is grinding

every day of the week



Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Arts is Business: study shows arts industry contributes to economic wellbeing

By Yvonne Oh, ST Communications Volunteer

Having moved to this neighborhood not too long ago, I’ve made efforts to get to know my new place better by exploring and getting involved in activities. One great discovery I’ve made has been the numerous arts and cultural events available so nearby.

There are all kinds of performances, exhibitions, and events to attend. Just a couple months ago, when the weather started warming up, my family and I headed for outdoor activities. Performances outside were so enjoyable and entertaining. Later when the heat really turned up – well, hello summer – our plans changed to include visits to museums and galleries with good air-conditioning!

And we’re not the only family who are out enjoying great arts and culture activities. Many other families are either visiting local places or traveling further for their summer fun.


A recent report by Americans for the Arts shows the connection between nonprofit arts and cultural activities and a prosperous economy. This study, the Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 is the most comprehensive economic impact study of the arts and culture industry. Nationally, the nonprofit arts and culture industry generates $166.3 billion in economic activity (2015).

Yes, the arts industry is a serious business. This video shares an overview of AEP5’s findings.

However, more importantly, is the local impact of this industry. The local arts industry cares for its neighbors.


A night out at a concert not just shows support for the arts, but also generates income for nearby establishments. And in turn, creates more business and jobs, and contributes to the overall economic health of the area! The AEP5 study has specific reports for local and regional areas. With data coming from diverse communities with varying populations, urban and rural areas, all 50 states plus the District of Columbia are represented. That summary can be read here.



So be entertained, inspired and moved by all the wonderful arts and cultural events that are out there this season. And know that your support of the arts is also support for the economic prosperity of your neighborhood. Hope you had a great summer!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment