Q&A: Patti Cepparulo, Lower School Drama Teacher
Actions is a new editorial feature from Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child. Each week we will spotlight the dedicated faculty and staff across the PK-12 campus who make a difference in the lives of OKS students and the life of the school. This week, we feature:
Lower School Drama Teacher
Q: What are students working on right now in our Lower School drama program?
A: In the Lower School, we are getting ready for our Primary Arts Concert, a program highlighting the visual arts, dance, music, and drama in pre-K to grade 2. In our production of “Prime-Time Nursery Rhymes,” the arts department transformed nursery rhymes of the past like “Little Boy Blue” and “Humpty Dumpty” modernizing them with new verses. Students will be filmed individually and, as with the Christmas Concert, led by Oak Knoll’s videographer and editor Eric Hartmann, the final product will appear as if we were on stage together. The concert premiers in every Lower School family’s home on March 18, 2021.
Q: You wear many hats at Oak Knoll School as the Lower School After-School Program Director and as a teacher of drama and religion. Can you talk a little bit about what your religion classes are working on now?
A: We are continuing to learn ways which help us to remember that God is our friend. Prayer is one way to ask God for help any time we need it. In one class, kindergarten students made play cellphones, and we all pretended to call God. We told God about school, our families, and our friends. This exercise taught the children how easy it was to talk to God whenever they felt like it.
In third grade, students took some quiet time to write letters to God. I received permission from the student to share this letter example below:
Thank you so much for creating this world. I appreciate it. Please keep my friends, family, and teachers safe from this virus. And we will do our part. We will pray, treat others with respect, love others the way you love yourself, and make this world a better place.
From, Your child, XXX
Q: What has been your favorite class project that you have worked on with our youngest students and why?
A: Honestly, I am unable to select a favorite project! I love all my drama lessons, thoroughly enjoying how each student interprets the lesson and brings a project to life. Recently, I taught a unit on “Pourquoi Stories.” Pourquoi means “why” in French. Why do chameleons change color? Why is the ocean blue? All children are curious about the wonders of nature, so to nourish this innate interest in the natural world via storytelling and writing is very rewarding. Without exception, each child creates a story worthy of publishing. I never cease to be amazed with their creative talents.
Q: In your experience, what makes our youngest Oak Knoll students excel and successful?
A: Simply stated, Oak Knoll School’s mission provides the framework for an educational experience built on love and respect, faith and promise, support, and praise. When children experience this, day after day, week after week, month after month, they come to believe in themselves as much as we do. Each teacher relates to each child as if she or he were the biological child of that teacher. What could be better!
Q: What aspects of Oak Knoll’s curriculum and mission do you hope our youngest students carry with them into middle/high school?
A: If we are successful in our efforts, all that each child has experienced here at Oak Knoll – love, respect, faith and promise, support, and praise – will be with them for a lifetime, no matter where they attend middle school, go to college, or how their adult lives unfold. As each child matures, she/he will learn how to share these principles with others, in his/her own way, perpetuating what we call Holy Child spirit, long into their adult lives and those of others whom they encounter along the way.
Patti Cepparulo has been teaching at Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child for 35 years. Before joining Oak Knoll, she taught at Our Lady of Lourdes in Mountainside, NJ. Patti has worn many hats as an educator throughout the years including librarian, pre-school teacher, science teacher, Lower School technology coordinator, Lower School religion coordinator, drama instructor, camp leader and director of Oak Knoll’s Summer Camp “Adventures.” Patti’s three children — Joe, Ben, and Jessica — attended school at Oak Knoll and all returned to campus during their high school and college years to work as summer camp instructors. Patti is thankful for her faith, family, and friends.