Tips for Talking About Bully Prevention

Bullying is a sensitive, yet important topic. We want our students to be prepared, but often find ourselves at a loss for what to tell or them, or even how to handle bullying ourselves. MicheLee Puppets uses puppetry as a disarming and relate-able way to convey these messages to students in A Good Day for Pancake (K-2nd grade) and The Upstander League (3-5th grade). Here are some ways to start the conversation about bully prevention, and tactics that your student can use:

Define BULLYING:

Bullying is intentional behavior that is repeated or has the potential to be repeated. It creates a real or perceived imbalance of power and is used to harm someone and their reputation. Some examples are:

Physical Bullying Hurting someone physically such as hitting or kicking. Taking or breaking someone’s property. (Example: taking someone’s lunch)

Verbal Bullying Using words to threaten, intimidate, or humiliate someone. (Example: Give me your homework, or I’ll punch you in the face)

Social/Emotional Bullying Hurting someone’s reputation or relationships by humiliating or excluding, spreading rumors or gossip, or embarrassing him/her in public.

Cyber bullying Using a device to send hurtful or humiliating emails, texts, or social media posts.

Define ROLES in a bullying situation:

Person exhibiting bullying behavior

Person being Targeted by the bullying behavior

Bystander- someone who witnesses bullying but does nothing to stop it

Upstander- someone who witnesses bullying and does something to stop it

Discuss Tactics that Upstanders can use to stop bullying from happening:

Report the Bullying (used with each tactic): Find an adult that you trust and tell them the facts about the bullying situation: who, what, when, and where. Reporting may be done in person or in a note, which may be signed anonymously. Report until the bullying stops.

Stand Up to the Bully: Disagree with the bully, speaking up for the target. Tell the bully to stop.

Ignore the Bully (not the situation): Don’t give the bully an audience, no matter what they say. Don’t laugh or pay attention to the bully. If cyberbullying, don’t like, comment or share. Show to an adult that you trust, then delete.

 Be a Friend Include the target. When the target isn’t present, refuse to exclude or speak badly about them. Refuse to acknowledge or spread rumors.

 Get the Target Out Give the target an excuse to leave a bullying situation. (Example: The Principal needs to see you)

 Distract the Bully Do or say something that distracts the bully so that the target can get away from the situation.

Be informed. Use these resources for more information on bully prevention:

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services www.Stopbullying.gov

STOMP Out Bullying www.stompoutbullying.org

Florida Department of Education www.fldoe.org/schools/safe-healthy-schools/safe-schools/bullying-prevention.stml

Click Here for The Orlando Sentinel’s article on The Upstander League

Upcoming Events with MicheLee Puppets

2016 is an exciting year for MicheLee Puppets as we continue our 30th Anniversary celebration all year long! Don’t miss these FREE events for the young and the young at heart!

 

Friday, April 1st:

Behind the Curtain: No Strings Attached! 8:00-9:00 AM

FREE Informational breakfast at MicheLee Puppets

RSVP to Kit@micheleepuppets.org


Sunday, April 3rd:

Sunday Family Fun Day 11am and 1pm at Venue on the Lake- Maitland Civic Center

RSVP to jamie@micheleepuppets.org

RT 1 promo photoRhyme Time: Reading Readiness Program

Get kids excited and ready to read through rhyme, rhythm, and repetition! Using a giant pop-up book and whimsical puppet characters, this enchanting musical show will have young children laughing and learning essential pre-reading skills.

A Parent/Child puppet making workshop follows each performance.

 

 

Thursday, April 7th 

MicheLee Puppets Celebrates 30 Years!  5:30-7:30pm

Mercedes Benz of Orlando-Maitland 810 Orlando Ave, Maitland, FL 32751

RSVP to kit@micheleepuppets.org

April 2016 fundraiser copyCelebrate 30 years of empowering lives through the art of puppetry! Enjoy complimentary tasty bites and beverages, a raffle, and music provided by WMMO!

Check out updates on exciting raffle items on Facebook!

 

 

 

 

Friday, May 6th

Behind the Curtain: No Strings Attached! 8:00-9:00 AM

FREE Informational breakfast at MicheLee Puppets

RSVP to Kit@micheleepuppets.org

 

Sunday, May 15th: 

Sunday Family Fun Day 11am and 1pm

Venue on the Lake- Maitland Civic Center

RSVP to jamie@micheleepuppets.org

It's "The Upstander League" to the rescue with tactics to go from bystanders to Upstanders!
It’s “The Upstander League” to the rescue with tactics to go from bystanders to Upstanders!

The Upstander League

See a bullying situation? Join the Upstander League! Fielding calls from bystanders in distress, audiences transform into The Upstander League’s latest recruits, practicing the tactics to go from bystanders to upstanders. Exciting music, entertaining simulations, and engaging puppet characters have audiences leaping to their feet, ready to handle each bullying situation. Are you ready to laugh, learn, and empower the upstander in you?

A parent/child puppet making workshop follows each performance

 

 

Sunday, July 24th:

Sunday Family Fun Day 11am and 1pm

Venue on the Lake- Maitland Civic Center

RSVP to jamie@micheleepuppets.org

FREE Public performance and workshop (TBA)

 

 

Sunday, August 28th:

Sunday Family Fun Day 11am and 1pm

Venue on the Lake- Maitland Civic Center

RSVP to jamie@micheleepuppets.org

FREE Public performance and workshop (TBA)

 

 

 

 

MicheLee Puppets Announces FREE Family Performances and Workshops!

MicheLee Puppets is excited to partner with Venue on the Lake-The Maitland Civic Center to present  Sunday Family Fun Days! Primarily a school-touring company, MicheLee Puppets shares empowering messages for youth presented in endearing and entertaining puppet shows. Executive Director Tracey Conner explains why public, family performances are so important:

“Public performances provide the opportunity to empower the whole family. Students see our shows in school and can discuss strategies for bully prevention with their friends, or practice rhyming for reading readiness in their classrooms, but we want our messages to reach further. When multiple generations attend a show together, they open up a dialogue about these important topics that extends beyond the school environment.”

Set your calendar for these FREE public performances and make-and-take workshops that your family can enjoy together throughout the year.

All performances will be held at Venue on the Lake- The Maitland Civic Center 641 Maitland Ave S, Maitland, FL 32751


Sunday, April 3rd, 11am and 1pm: Rhyme Time: Reading Readiness Program 
Appropriate for Ages 2-6

RT 1 promo photo

Get kids excited and ready to read through rhyme, rhythm, and repetition! Using a giant pop-up book and whimsical puppet characters, this enchanting musical show will have young children laughing and learning essential pre-reading skills.

A Parent/Child puppet making workshop follows each performance.

 

Sunday, May 15th, 11am and 1pm : The Upstander League Appropriate for ages 7-11

It's "The Upstander League" to the rescue with tactics to go from bystanders to Upstanders!
It’s “The Upstander League” to the rescue with tactics to go from bystanders to Upstanders!

 

See a bullying situation? Join the Upstander League! Fielding calls from bystanders in distress, audiences transform into The Upstander League’s latest recruits, participating in the tactics to go from bystanders to upstanders. Found object and shadow puppetry simulations, music and more have audiences on their feet ready to handle each bullying situation. Are you ready to turn the page on bullying?

A parent/child puppet making workshop follows each performance


 

 

Sunday, July 24th, 11am and 1pm: Discover Math and Science! Appropriate for ages 3-6

DMS_1

Take a trip around the sun and explore the seasons, shapes, and surprises in the world around you! Featuring music, puppetry, familiar rhymes, and audience participation, there’s so much to explore!

RSVP to jamie@micheleepuppets.org

A parent/child puppet making workshop follows each performance

 

Sunday, August 28th, 11am and 1pm:The Upstander League Appropriate for ages 7-11

See a bullying situation? Join the Upstander League! Fielding calls from bystanders in distress, UL-picaudiences transform into The Upstander League’s latest recruits, participating in the tactics to go from bystanders to upstanders. Found object and shadow puppetry simulations, music and more have audiences on their feet ready to handle each bullying situation. Are you ready to turn the page on bullying?

A parent/child puppet making workshop follows each performance

Reservations are requested. Please email jamie@micheleepuppets.org with your name, the date and time of the performance you would like to attend, and the number of adults and children attending.

 

United ArtsThese free MicheLee Puppets performances and workshops are supported by United Arts of Central Florida, host of power2give.org/centralflorida and the collaborative Campaign for the Arts.

 

 

MLP-5-Anniversary-Logo-2.18.15MicheLee Puppets Live and Online is Florida’s leader in educational puppetry. We empower lives through exciting, educational and entertaining issue-based productions, which are presented to thousands of young people each year. Through gripping performances young people learn respect, personal responsibility, and how to make positive life choices.

 

Venue LogoThe Maitland Civic Center opened in 1965 with the mission of “providing facilities for the promotion of civic, religious, literary, charitable, education, social and recreational interest of all Greater Maitland area Residents and Businesses”. 

 

 

2015 Stories of Impact: Staff Picks- Production Manager Jamie Donmoyer is inspired by Aspire

As we count down to the New Year, Production Manager Jamie Donmoyer shares her favorite story of impact from 2015:                2015 has many stories to choose from, but Steven’s journey to Respect is the story I find the most special.

As I entered the glass doors of Aspire Charter Academy, Principal Pam Schenkel greeted me with a concerned smile,”We are classified as a behavioral school. I just want you to be prepared for anything.”

I made a few mental notes, finished setting up A Good Day for Pancake and waited backstage for the students to arrive. When show time approached I peeked my head out from behind the curtain wondering where the students could be. To my surprise, there sat a full audience who had entered so quietly that I didn’t even know that they were there! I noticed a boy off in the corner  using a tablet (not uncommon in a behavioral school). The show began and the familiar sound of giggling and clapping filled the air.  From the corner, the boy put down his tablet and joined the other students in the fun. Instantly I knew that I was somewhere special.

MicheLee Puppets wanted to reward the students’ respectful manners and thoughtful questions, and a few months later we returned to deliver Sock Puppets With a Heart. As we loaded in boxes of sock puppets, Principal Schenkel beamed sharing,

“Our students are never chosen for anything.”

Steven sat in the corner, tablet in hand, watching as the students excitedly selected their very own puppets. Just as before, he put down his tablet and joined the others making silly voices and performing in a spontaneous puppet parade. The puppets were reaching the students and we wanted to do more. A puppetry residency was just the answer.

On the first day of the residency, Steven sat at his isolated desk, tablet in hand. As the class got into groups to discuss situations in which they had felt respected or disrespected, Steven remained alone at his desk, but he traded his tablet for paper and pencil, scribbling furiously. At the end of class, Steven handed in a fully illustrated story: a trip to Steak and Shake for a good report card.

I soon learned that in his ten years, Steven had never spent more than a year at a single school. His challenges with focus and working with others created behavior issues including emotional outbursts, yet on his first day with puppetry, Steven connected with the class assignment.

Over the next few weeks, Steven emerged as a leader. He left his isolated desk and tablet behind to focus on directing others to bring his “Respect” story to life. The same students, who previously looked at Steven with frustration, now sought his guidance.

Respect was so well received, that it was chosen as the main stage show for MicheLee Puppets’ 30th anniversary fundraising breakfast. Steven was selected as one of five students to perform and at our first rehearsal, there he was, surrounded by students talking and laughing. Gone was his desk of isolation. He had found his own “respect.”The principal smiled and said:

“Before MicheLee Puppets, Steven had never chosen to participate in any group activity. Working with the puppets has connected him in a way we could have never imagined.”

You can empower a child like Steven with your tax deductible gift to MicheLee Puppets. If 10 people give $30, we can reach 100 children! Thank you for your support.

2015 Stories of Impact: Staff Picks- Director of Development Kit Twenter joins “The Upstander League”

As we count down to the New Year, Director of Development Kit Twenter shares her favorite story of impact from 2015: Click Here to Book “The Upstander League” at your school!

As MicheLee Puppets’ director of development, I build partnerships and support for our programs, but rarely am I involved in the process of creating the final product. This separation allows me to experience each show with the same fresh eyes as our audiences. Recently, I experienced MicheLee Puppets’ “The Upstander League” from that same fresh perspective.

Surrounded by 3rd-5th graders, I followed the performance and learned about the many different types of bullying. Suddenly a janitor’s cart transformed into a mobile command center, and I found myself as an upstander-in-training, fielding calls from bystanders who were looking for help with bullying situations. As each upstander tactic was introduced, the performers sprang into action, engaging audiences by using puppetry to create simulations. It was the audience response, however, that made a lasting impression.

 

Pondering what I might do in a bullying situation, I was astounded when more than half of the children’s hands shot into the air. Un-prompted by adults, the students shared helpful and realistic solutions for a bullying situation…solutions that I had not considered, but were brought out through their experience with a PUPPET SHOW!

I was so excited as the students and teachers rose to their feet, giggling and dancing as part of the “Distraction Action” flash mob. Teachers pulled out their cell phones to record the excitement as the entire audience bonded together to distract a bully, while having the time of their lives!

How wonderful to be part of an audience, entering as individuals but leaving united, empowered to handle bullying situations as official members of “The Upstander League”!

You too can empower children to stand up to bullies by sharing this story and with your tax deductible gift to MicheLee Puppets. With your gift of $30 or more, we can deliver powerful performances to hundreds of children in our community. Thank you for your support!

What Does MicheLee Puppets Do With Your Donations?

Did you know that before a school is ever contacted, MicheLee Puppets finds funding to bring their cost from $4 per child to $1 per child…and YOU can make the difference! With over 30 years of delivering life-changing messages, we make every dollar count. You work hard for your money and here is where your investment goes:

Empowering youth to become upstanders versus bystanders.

“A Good Day for Pancake” for K-2nd graders and “The Upstander League” for 3rd-5th graders teaches thousands of students across Central Florida how to help a victim in a bullying situation.

Encouraging thousands of low-income preschoolers to get excited about reading, math and science skills!

Our 3-part “Rhyme Time” live series features giant pop-up books and original music. Students  sing and rhyme their way to reading! The fun continues online with “The Electric Socketz” and their rhyming music videos.  “Discover Math and Science” premieres in January of 2016!

Promoting healthy lifestyles choices

The Live “EXTREME Health Challenge” and online educational videos teach students how to make healthy choices.

Providing workshops and professional trainings.

Shows provide experiences on a larger audience scale, while individual workshops allow one on one interaction. In 2015 alone, at-risk youth, students with autism and social and emotional challenges have been empowered by their work with MicheLee Puppets. Professionals have found creative ways to reach their students and clients.

You can make the difference with your one-time or monthly gift.  Make your investment in a child today by donating here to MicheLee Puppets.We have been so blessed to receive over 30 years of support and look forward to the next 30 years!

 

2015 Stories of Impact: Staff Picks- Executive Director Tracey Conner meets “Policeman Kevin”

As we count down to the New Year, Executive Director Tracey Conner shares her favorite story of impact from 2015: Click here to book “A Good Day for Pancake” at your school

As I reflect on 2015, MicheLee Puppets has had a year filled with so many meaningful and important stories of impact. If I had to pick just one, I would have to say  2nd Grader Arrests Bully is my favorite for 2015.

What continues to impress me throughout the years is the immediacy with which the audience responds to the puppets and the message. In the case of Policeman Kevin, he was so affected by the behavior of our bully puppet, that he was compelled to take action, putting on the persona of a police officer and threatening to “arrest” the bully. Kevin’s classmates, having just watched A Good Day For Pancake which taught them to stand together as upstanders, immediately came to assist him. They wanted to know why “Willie Walker” (the bully puppet) would behave in such a way, and together they stood up to him, just as the group of puppets had done in the show they had just seen.

Kevin’s heart was touched with compassion when he witnessed a bullying situation. He took the bully prevention tactic “Stand up to the Bully” to heart and he and his classmates became upstanders!

The students watched the show and got the message so clearly that when confronted with our bully puppet, they could spontaneously put into practice what they had just learned. Because of this experience, this
puppet show, these students now know what to do in real life. They are empowered to stand together to be strong. It’s a beautiful thing.

You can empower children, like Kevin and his classmates, to stand up to bullies with your tax deductible gift to MicheLee Puppets. If 10 people give $30, we can reach 100 children! Thank you for your support.

Stay Safe! Rules to Empower your Pedestrian.

With so many pedestrians making their way back to school, drivers are warned to be extra cautious, but empowering your pedestrian to know the rules of the road can keep them from entering a dangerous situation. In the United States, Florida contains the TOP FOUR most dangerous metropolitan areas for walking. Recognizing that safe practices begin with knowledge, The Florida Department of Health in Volusia County and MicheLee Puppets (with funding from Florida Department of Transportation and Safe Routes to Schools) have created “Walk to School: Safe is Cool” a series of educationally entertaining videos that empower pedestrians to understand the rules of the road. Knowledge is power! Share these tips with your pedestrian and empower them to stay safe!

1. Cross at the corner, or in a crosswalk. Before crossing, look left, then right, then left again

2. Make eye contact with the driver before crossing in front of a car.

3. Walk on the sidewalk, out of traffic.

4. Beware the edges!

Car mirrors and more make unsafe conditions for these pedestrians (and their ice cream)

5. Wear items that are bright and easy to see.

Who will be crowned “Miss Be Se Queen”?

6. Stop, wait for the Walk signal, then go.

Rock out before you walk out…into the road.

Be Seen Queen from MicheLee Puppets on Vimeo.

“Kids on the Block”: The Start of MicheLee Puppets

Bowling Green State University, 1985. A fresh faced Theatre major tours a local school district, performing a puppet show. The rest is history.

We’re not talking about television comedian Jon Stewart, although he too started in 1985, with the New York version of this puppet show, telling New York Magazine in 1994, “I was a cerebral-palsy puppet, a blind puppet, a deaf puppet, a hyperactive puppet — and a puppet who couldn’t commit to a relationship.”

Created in 1977, “Kids On the Block”, a disability awareness puppet show,  exposed a young Tracey Conner to puppetry and its ability to impact an audience in a profound way.

“It was all about creating a climate of inclusion, acceptance and friendship between disabled and able-bodied children,” remembers Conner. “It was the first time that I realized that theatre, particularly puppetry, could do more than entertain. It could be used to make lives better for kids.”


Realizing the importance of this message,  Tracey brought the idea of impacting through puppetry with her, upon moving to Orlando. Convincing performing partner, Michael Prazniak to follow, they combined their middle names (Michelle and Lee) creating Orlando’s longest running not for profit puppet company: MicheLee Puppets.

Determined to continue the work of “Kids on the Block,” Tracey and Michael needed puppets, and found their first (and longest running) corporate partner in Florida Hospital. Equipped with borrowed puppets, they set out on the road, and by year’s end, 6500 children in Central Florida were introduced to MicheLee Puppets.

“The response was overwhelming,” beams Conner, “children and teachers were being changed by what we were doing. I knew we had to do more.”


“Kids on the Block” became a staple for MicheLee Puppets, performed for over 20 years. The puppets still reside in MicheLee Puppets’ Orlando offices, brought out on occasion to tell stories of students that they have impacted, but the company has evolved into creating original works (and puppets) that deal with with hot button topics such as bullying, domestic violence and sexual assault. Using puppetry as a way to introduce these sensitive topics, allows abstract ideas to become accessible. Through the puppets, students see their own stories and gain the confidence to reveal in order to heal.

Now in its 30th year, with multiple corporate partners and 2million children served, MicheLee Puppets continues to tour Central Florida, focusing on performances that impact Early Childhood Education through “Rhyme Time” a reading readiness puppet show; and Health and Wellness through bully prevention performances and “The EXTREME Health Challenge”, an obesity prevention live game show. MicheLee Puppets has evolved to include online components such as videos that educate and entertain on a number of topics including pedestrian safety, rhyming, bully prevention, and soon STEM! (coming 2016)


“Kids on the Block” sent Jon Stewart to empowering lives through the art of  comedy, and Tracey Conner to empowering lives through the art of puppetry. Not bad for a puppet show.

Stay tuned for our “Stories of Impact” series where we highlight those who have been profoundly affected by the work of MicheLee Puppets through the faces and voices of the people who were there.

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YOU Can Visit MicheLee Puppets!

With puppets on exhibit from floor to ceiling; hallways decorated with awards, articles and  hand-written letters with pictures from those whose lives have been touched by MicheLee Puppets’ programs; and a studio filled with puppet supplies, set pieces, projects “in process” AND a television studio, MicheLee Puppets has something enticing for people of all interests.

Much more than a touring company, MicheLee Puppets’ shows are generally performed offsite, but there is still plenty to see and do! Workshops, conferences, exhibitions, meetings, photo shoots, filmings, and more fill the studio walls. A package delivery is often accompanied by “What is this place?”, a question that has inspired FREE informational breakfasts.

“Participants for our monthly informational breakfast events come from all walks of life,” muses Kit Twenter, Development Director for MicheLee Puppets. “We’ve welcomed NASA engineers, school teachers, musicians, medical professionals, mathematicians, entrepreneurs, and more. There’s a curiosity that draws them to us: how can they get their message across in a creative way? Sharing our stories of empowerment, guests join in our excitement of educating the children of our community-at-large and delivering messages in a very special way-through the art of puppetry.”

People from all walks of life visit MicheLee Puppets…and YOU can too!

Now in its 30th year, MicheLee Puppets invites YOU to enjoy your morning coffee and a FREE continental breakfast in a creative environment!  Be moved by stories of impact and entertained by performance pieces. Ask questions of the experts, and maybe even make a character to take home, all in the time span of 1 hour!

For upcoming breakfast dates or to schedule a personal tour, contact Kit Twenter  kit@micheleepuppets.org, 407-898-7925 x 3.