B. Someday’s Family Theatre Series at Walking Fish Theatre is the result of a partnership with The Neighborhood Parenting Project. It’s more than just a partnership between a theatre company and a social service organization; it’s a constructive friendship. Get to know our friend Teri Ramsay in ten simple questions.
For those of us who might have been living under a rock for the past 30 years, what is The Neighborhood Parenting Program of By My Side?We are a great organization comprised of mostly local families with young children. We offer Playgroups, groups for ages 4 & up & are currently working to also begin a program to support pregnant/parenting teens. By My Side is the last vestage of 13 pilot projects that began over 25 years ago to help prevent child abuse by helping parents learn about early childhood development. When parents understand what are normal stages in a child’s development and can get tips on how to deal both from the staff and other parents, expectations are more realistic and parents are less stressed. Our biggest value, as I see it, is connecting people and creating community.
What was your path to The Neighborhood Parenting Program of By My Side?
It’s a little complicated… By My Side is an organization I started in 1997 to help formerly homeless mothers. After 2 years of that work, it went into limbo. I became an employee of an organization called The Preschool Project in 2001. The Neighborhood Parenting Program (NPP) was one of the programs in that organization. By 2004, I began helping to coordinate NPP in addition to my role as a parent educator for a Home-based Head Start/Early Head Start Program. In early 2007, The Preschool Project like many others, ran into major funding difficulties and it became clear that closing their doors was a real possibilty. The Executive Director & Board asked me if I would take the program independent and try to keep it alive. I had been witness to the amazing connections made through NPP so, I went about resurrecting By My Side’s 510(c)3 and here we are.
What’s your most memorable moment as part of this program?
Hard to say…..each Playgroup & Event brings so many “keeper” moments! What pops into mind, though, was playing the Easter Bunny at our Easter Egg Hunt this past spring…the costume itself was quite a challenge for me as was staying quiet & fairly still for that long so the kids wouldn’t recognize my voice….can’t really see much through that head so I was concerned about stepping on the little ones!
How does B. Someday’s Family Theatre Series complement your program?
Early literacy is so important! Michelle, Stan & their daughter, Astrid were part of NPP beginning when Astid was 6 weeks old. Way before The Walking Fish was a reality, Michelle and I had partnered to do a public literacy event to fulfill a grant obligation. She & Stan had already been toying with the idea of taking some of Astrid’s favorite stories & adding a performance flavor to them. Out of that was born 2 productions of “Frog & Toad” which were highly received. When The Walking Fish was being born, we revisited the idea of doing this on a regular basis….hence, The Family Theatre Series. It’s another way to get my folks out into the community and expose the children to theatre & books early on.
The Family Theatre Series is a literature-based performance, using classic children’s books. What were some of your favorite books when you were growing up?
Anything about horses…and I did go through a brief Nancy Drew period. Of course, they were written on stone tablets back then!
The next Family Theatre Series performance is based around the theme of giving, and utilizes Shel Silverstein’s “The Giving Tree.” What’s your connection to this book?
What I like about the story line is the message of happiness in giving of one’s self/not things and the seeming unending requests from the one receiving to give more. There is a beauty and sadness. It’s also a book people either really like or don’t. It was chosen mainly because of its recognizability factor and that it opens up discussion.
What are you reading these days?
Mostly grant proposals & early drafts of my own children’s series “In Grandma’s Garden” that I have been working on for a couple of years when I have time.
What’s under your bed?
a few dust bunnies, a stray sock or two and sometimes my dog.
If you could have any three famous people, living or dead, over for lunch, who would you invite and what would you serve?
Robin Williams, Carl Sagan & Jesus Christ…… bread, cheese, fish & wine.
What’s the best piece of parenting advice you’ve ever received?
You’ll understand when you’re a parent!
The December installment of The Family Theatre Series
is coming up on Saturday, November 5 at 11:00 am. Join us at 2509 Frankford Ave for a fun family experience that you won’t soon forget!