By: Courtney Dabney
There are costumes and props. There is a stage. There are therapists. However, Story Stage is not a theater company or a clinic.
“We are using theater to create a fun and meaningful context for kids to build academic and social skills,” says Rebekah Carlile, Story Stage co-founder. “Seeing their stories come to life as they tell them generates real-time feedback. By the time kids put pen to paper, the kinks are all worked out.”
The company’s target child is one who is struggling to express himself in spoken or written language.
If your child is in the StoryPlay workshop and likes animals, fashion or baseball, Story Stage can tailor the content so that characters and plots are interesting to each child. Classes are limited to six children, and workshops are altered to each child’s level of skill and understanding.
“We can help your child tell their stories, whether they are struggling socially or unable to organize their ideas to write a story,” Carlile says. “We help them understand how much background information their listener needs, as an example. These are some of the nuances of social language that lots of kids struggle with, whether or not they have an official diagnosis. At Story Stage, we do not care if you have an official diagnosis.”
Carlile created the program while earning her M.Ed. in Mind, Brain, and Education at the University of Texas at Arlington. She worked with Cook Children’s Hospital to pilot the Story Stage program and won UTA’s Provost’s Award for Graduate Research at the ACES competition this year.
Carlile earned a B.A. in theater and an M.A. in Communication Sciences and Disorders from the University of Texas at Austin. With two decades experience as a speech pathologist, she continues to see private pediatric clients, specializing in language disorders and stuttering. Carlile has taught theater camp for children at Stage West and runs Backyard Theater Camp each summer for Berkeley neighborhood children. She also works as a Creative Writing Artist-in-Residence, bringing collaborative story-building experiences to patients at Cook Children’s Hospital.
Story Stage co-founder Leigh Scanlon’s contribution is academic language therapy. Scanlon earned her B.A. in Women’s Studies from the University of Oklahoma.
Scanlon’s daughter was one of Carlile’s clients.
“I knew then there was a need in Fort Worth to open a place that could serve children like my child who needed help with their narrative language and social skills,” Scanlon says. “I feel honored that Rebekah asked me to join her.”
Scanlon worked several years with Pfizer Pharmaceuticals. When she became a mom, she began a career at a private preschool, teaching academic and social skills. Currently, she is pursuing her Academic Language Therapy License in Dyslexia.
“Story Stage was created to help all kids find their story, their voice, and their confidence as well as build their social language and academic skills through a fun and interactive way,” Scanlon says. “I enjoy working with children who just need a little extra boost or to come and work on the skills they lack in a safe, warm, fun-loving environment.”
To learn more about Story Stage, including schedules and pricing, visit www.story-stage.com.
By: Courtney Dabney