The FWSU Story: GEMS Alumnus Returns for Artist Residency

Georgia Elementary school had the great fortune to welcome back alumnus Sarah Frechette and partner Jason Thibodeaux recently as they immersed themselves in 3rd and 4th grade to produce and facilitate a student created shadow puppet show for all PK-4th grade students and staff to observe. As part of the “Shadows Rock, 2019, Puppet powers” residency at Georgia Elementary it was an amazing learning opportunity and fabulous show!

SARAH FRECHETTE is an artist, puppeteer and founder of Puppetkabob, a puppet company that has toured nationally to schools, libraries, theaters, museums and festivals. She is a graduate of the University of Connecticut’s Puppetry Arts Program. Since then, Sarah has developed three full length productions, toured internationally, and received the prestigious UNIMA citation of excellence.

As Artistic Director of Puppetkabob, Sarah blends science and history with puppetry arts to create a dynamic and interactive theater experience. 

“Every year when we get the opportunity to work with Puppetkabob (Sarah and Jason) they bring a unique element of excitement, engagement, and creativity to the classroom. The students look forward to creating their puppets and it brings them a sense of ownership and pride when they finally get to see their puppet on the big stage. This is an amazing experience for the students.”

Erin Young (3rd Grade teacher)

Sarah studied marionettes in Germany with Legendary Master Puppeteer Albrecht Roser and has performed with marionettes across the U.S., Germany, Austria and China. She toured with the marionette rock-opera Don’t Trust Anyone Over Thirty with Phillip Huber, for which Sarah made the puppets costumes.   

For studio work, Sarah has a background in Live-Action puppetry and Stop-Motion animation creating for galleries, theaters, television and film. Sarah has designed puppets for multiple stage productions and is a teaching artist for the Vermont Arts Council.

MAIN LEARNING OBJECTIVES:

  • Students will learn how to blend hand-held lights and old school camera techniques to create a form of shadow puppetry that flows like film.
  • Students will improve drawing, writing and communication skills thru lessons with Puppetkabob.
  • Students will learn about shadows, the oldest known form of puppetry, and how to bring this traditional art form into the 21st century.
  • Students will learn about visual storytelling and how to use the basics of perspective and style to highlight their stories objective.
  • Students will safely incorporate their bodies along with the handmade shadow puppets to show connections, illuminating responsibility and respect to the GEMS community.

“The shadow puppet program that Sarah and Jason bring to the classroom is amazing!  Students get to show off their creativity in a unique way and share the experience with the school during the final performance.  I’ve had the pleasure of working with Sarah and Jason many times, and students are always engaged and motivated during the whole process!”

Heather Sikorsky (3rd grade teacher)

The following were themes created and presented by students:

  1. Birds eye view of Vermont (Life cycle, pride, Bald Eagle)
  2. Our Super Selves (Our contributions as citizens)
  3. Out of this World (Me of the Map)
  4. Our community Heroes and Heroines
  5. The 5 Senses (Sight and Sound)
  6. Day in the life of a kid; Year 3019
  7. Kids just wanna have fun (Vermont Seasons)

“What a wonderful performance and opportunity for students in our school. Sarah Frechette and Jason Thibodeaux have a unique ability to inspire every student by creating excitement in their learning.  Their facilitation of student work, in such a short period of time, through engagement is masterful.  The final shadow show is phenomenal.”

Steve Emery (Principal)

Steve Emery is the Elementary Principal of Georgia Elementary Middle School. He is a regular contributor to THE FWSU STORY.

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