Storyteller invites Olympia students to imagine
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[January 03, 2012]
him Grandpa Mike, Dr. Lockett or "Yeh Yeh" -- he goes by all of those
names -- he doesn't care as long as you listen to his stories. He is
Dr. Michael Lockett, "The Normal Storyteller." Not "normal," but Normal,
as in Bloomington-Normal, his hometown. He enjoys the double meaning
and the delayed responses.
He isn't concerned about appearing
"normal" as long as his words paint pictures in the minds of
listeners; as long as children are inspired to use their
imaginations to follow him into the world of make-believe; and as
long as adults are able to leave the present long enough to conjure
up the characters and places his stories describe.
program was an exciting send-off for the students at Olympia South
Elementary in Atlanta as they began their holiday break. They all
left with a smile and the room was full of chatter. Holiday
excitement? Probably, but it started with the storyteller.
As a former educator, it is Lockett's mission to create pleasant experiences, to encourage a
desire to learn new things and to open minds to different ideas. He
taught fourth through sixth grades in a public school, was the
principal at an alternative school for two years and a school
administrator for 12 years. He also has been an instructor at the
college level -- at Aurora University, Western Illinois University
and Bradley University -- for a total of 30 years in the field of
His doctorate is in curriculum, which makes him constantly aware of content and
age-appropriate material. Storytelling became his method of
communicating messages of caring, sharing, responsibility and
humanity. Having fun along the way is a great way to spend your
Lockett has been a presenter at
the Storytelling Festival in Jonesboro, Tenn., and other similar
venues and is a member of a national storytelling network. He has
developed flexible programs that can be adapted for schools,
churches and other groups that want to enjoy the storytelling
With his son, Mark, as the studio
manager and webmaster, Lockett has recorded several tapes and
CDs with hundreds of stories and has included stories on a website
for teachers, parents and anyone who wants to listen to them. He has
also written six books.
"I invite teachers to download
stories from my website," Lockett said, "and share them with the
students. There are over 150 stories they can choose from."
What about that other name, Yeh
[to top of second column]
"I just returned from Taiwan and
China," Lockett said. "In China, they call me 'Yeh Yeh.' which
basically translates to 'Grandpa' Mike. In Taiwan I go to schools
and libraries for programs. It is part of their culture to learn
from storytelling. They love it and I love going over there." Lockett has also learned some of their languages.
"I have told stories in 27 states
in this country and in 10 foreign countries," he explained. "I'm one of
10 storytellers that have been invited to the Holy
Land for 10 days, April 29 to May 12, 2012. We'll travel around the
country of Israel and go to schools to do programs."
The students at Olympia followed
the stories, but they also followed directions for making sounds and
motions that went along with the stories. They became absorbed in
the stories and reacted to the cues with such attention that the
entire audience moved in sync and responded with exact timing.
It was definitely a good way to
have some fun as the school week wound down. The imaginations were
warmed up and ready for the excitement of Christmas.
[By MARLA BLAIR]