Associate professor of education Sharon Peck has dedicated her career to literacy education, but it takes more than reading between the lines of Peck’s résumé to learn that she is also a puppeteer, storyteller and balloon twister. Growing up in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., Peck took part in historical reenactments that at times involved puppeteering. She eventually became involved in the Puppeteers of America and learned the trade from what she calls a “wonderful organization of very supportive puppet enthusiasts.” Peck is now the northeast regional director for the organization.
Peck has traveled to a variety of locations including England and India to explore puppeteering in other countries.
When Peck taught kindergarten and first grade, she began incorporating puppets into her teaching and saw the “power of puppets as an educational tool.” At Geneseo, she works to integrate puppeteering into her work as much as possible.
While she was coordinating the children’s activities at the Irish Festival in Rochester, Peck learned balloon twisting from the clowns at the event and extended her storytelling abilities. Peck was noticed for a strong aptitude for clowning and has since become a professional clown.
Peck’s father is an active storyteller, and she looks at storytelling as an important means of communication; she takes storytelling to the next level with her puppetry.
“There is something exciting about the potential of puppets and the way we learn,” she said.
Peck will bring the art of balloon twisting to Geneseo the April 2014 G.R.E.A.T. Day. With five student artists and help from local balloon twisters, Peck will recreate the Geneseo Seuss Spruce in balloon form. The tree will be a scale model made entirely out of balloons and will stand at either six or 12 feet tall.
Peck will also contribute by helping students perform their own stories. What started as an extracurricular puppeteering program on campus has evolved into the Geneseo Storytelling Institute. The program runs every spring semester, with students telling stories on G.R.E.A.T. Day and at Wadsworth Library.