Dr. Diane's Adventures in Learning

Using Music To Build Curriculum Connections: Adventures in Learning with Wincey Terry-Bryant

August 09, 2023 Dr Diane Jackson Schnoor Season 3 Episode 1
Dr. Diane's Adventures in Learning
Using Music To Build Curriculum Connections: Adventures in Learning with Wincey Terry-Bryant
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Show Notes Transcript

Meet Wincey Terry-Bryant, an incredible, knock your socks off edutainer who knows how to connect history, STEM, cultural, and the performing arts in a way that engages early childhood and elementary audiences. She's the CEO of  WinceyCo,  and an international artist who has performed with Sting and Tina Turner and guested on Sesame Street In 1988, Wincey combined her love for music, education and children to found a performing arts troupe that educates audiences about serious social issues and academic subject matter. These dynamic live educational shows are presented by professional Winceyco actors, singers, dancers and musicians. Wincey has produced two educational music cds, one cartoon dvd and a children’s book on bullying.

  • [01:30] The journey from singing in the church choir to becoming the CEO of Wincey Co, a company focused on music and early childhood education.
  • [05:11] Highlights of an incredible 30-year career, including the joy of impacting young minds and supporting teachers through professional development.
  • [07:47] Challenges teachers face today.
  • [08:29] Creating programs that focus on under-celebrated figures in history.
  • [11:31] How "faction," a mix of fact and action, helps to make history engaging.
  • [12:16] The  importance of hands-on learning and EQ (emotional quotient) development in  fostering problem-solving and collaboration among students.
  • [14:35] Virtual STEAM course Ad 
  • [15:48] The OG Black History assembly, including African kings and queens, the contributions of African and African American inventors, and how they were not always credited due to discrimination.
  • [17:17] A jingle Wincey uses to teach children about inventions made by Black inventors.
  • [18:16] The joys of being a teaching artist for the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) and how she developed her show "Character Rocks."
  • [26:55] Teacher resource guides and lesson plans created to accompany WinceyCo's assembly programs.
  • [29:17] The challenge of being holiday-centric when it comes to celebrating Black History Month and Latin Heritage Month, stressing the importance of integrating these celebrations throughout the school year.
  • [30:30] Professional Development Ad
  • [32:01] Creating educational content that connects and appeals with young audiences.
  • [36:30] Working with Wolf Trap as a teaching artist providing performing arts and STEM connections for early childhood educators. She discusses the importance of teaching math skills to young children and making learning fun for them.
  • [40:18] The importance of empowering teachers to be creative in their teaching methods and providing valuable experiences for their students.
  • [44:00] Covid programming -- how "Wincy Co Workshop"  provided strategies for parents to teach their children at home.
  • [50:15] The joys of creating and working with actors, especially helping new actors fulfill their dreams.
  • [51:02] Hope in a next generation of children and educators.

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[00:01] Sponsor VO: Wonder, curiosity, connection. Where will your adventures take you? I'm Dr. Diane, and thank you for joining me on today's episode of Adventures in Learning.

[00:17] Dr. Diane: So welcome back for season three of the Adventures in Learning podcast. I'm your host, Dr. Diane, and today we are opening with a very special guest. We are opening with Wincey Terry Bryant. And I’ve got to tell you, she blew my socks off when I walked into her workshop at the Virginia Early Childhood Conference last March. She was teaching about music and STEM and how to engage early childhood, and it was phenomenal. And then I went and looked her up and realized there's so many amazing things we can talk about. You want to talk history? You want to talk ways to engage people? This is your lady. She's performed with Sting and Tina Turner. She's been on Sesame Street, and she's got her own albums as well as just some incredible programs. So, Wincey, welcome to the show. I'm so happy to have you here.

[01:10] Wincey: Oh, thank you, Diane, for having me. I'm so happy to be here.

[01:13] Dr. Diane: So I want to start with your adventures in learning. You have done so many interesting things. Tell us a little bit about yourself, how you got there and how your journey from singing in the church choir led to being the CEO of Winceyco.

[01:30] Wincey: Yeah, so funny. I was raised in the church choir, like, singing in the church, and ever since I was a little girl, I loved music. I mean, I don't know any kids who don't love music, so I loved music. And my parents and my older brothers and sisters tell me now that I could learn any song really quickly and all the little commercial jingles, I wouldn't watch the movies or the TV shows with them, but whenever a commercial came on, I would come running and I would sing whatever the jingle was. So from the church choir I had heard about, a friend told me about this group, this audition, and I could go on this audition. I didn't even know what an audition was because in the choir, you don't have to audition. You just say, I want to join the choir, and they let you join, so you don't even have to be like, a real singer. So I went on this audition, and it led to me working with an acapella group, and we ended up singing a song for a rapper named Monie Love. And I sang the lead the song, It’s a shame the way you mess around with my heart so, because my brothers and sisters were much older than me, I happened to be one of the only people in this small group. It was a six member group, and I was the only girl. I happened to be one of the only people who even recognized that song because it was an old song. So I immediately got the lead. The group that was producing this rapper, the rapper Monie Love. The group was the Fne Young Cannibals. She drives me crazy. Yeah, remember that? So they had come from England to produce this rapper, and that was the song that they wanted to do a remake of. And when they got our group together, they actually saw us because we were entertaining the live studio audience at The Cosby Show. I did that for four years, so like a bunch of seasons. And if you've ever seen The Cosby Show, you see them in the living room and then you see them in the kitchen. It takes time to move all those cameras. So they had an acapella group, us, stand on the side, and then we’d run out and entertain the audience so that people wouldn't get bored and start walking and talking. So everybody who was anybody would come and see the live taping of The Cosby Show. So when the Cannibals came, when the Fine Young Cannibals came, they said, we want to see if we can use that group. So I got involved, of course, in that way. They had us come to a studio in New York and I sang that hook. And then I went on the road with the rapper, and we did a 52 city tour with Bell Big Devoe and Keith Sweat and Johnny Gill, like all of A hip hop artists of that time, and Big R and B artists of that time. And then when we got off tour, I did not want to go back to corporate. I just didn't want to go back to corporate. So my sister, who was a school teacher at the time, said to me, what do you really like to do? Like, what would you like to do if you could do anything? And I said, Well, I love children and I love music, and if I could do something with both of those entities. And so she said, you know what, I'm going to ask my principal if you can come and do something for the next school holiday. So it was, Black History Month was coming up, and I said, okay, I'll just make up something. And that's what I thought I was doing. But God is amazing because he kind of had me back into a career in that way. I told stories and sang songs with the kids, and the principal came over and she was crying, and I was thinking was it that bad? This is so beautiful. I want to tell all my friends. So that's kind of how that business was born.

[05:11] Dr. Diane: And so what are some of the highlights from that business? Because you've been doing this now for what, 20-30 years?

[05:19] Wincey: Over 30 years. When I go into schools, I say, I've been doing this for over 30 years, and I just stop at 30.

[05:24] Dr. Diane: I agree.

[05:26] Wincey: Yeah. But since 1988, I've been doing this. And some of the things that are just so rewarding to me. First of all, it's just seeing the kids’ faces, being able to influence and impact the little people who will soon be our future like they are our doctors and lawyers. And I tell them that all the time. I do this because of you. I do it because I love you guys. And I mean that from my heart. You're our future doctors and lawyers and preachers and teachers, architects, engineers, presidents, singers, dancers, that's what you're going to be. And you're just the people to do that for us. You're going to take care of the world. For us to be able to seed anything into those little people and tell them what possibilities are there for them is so rewarding. And then, Diane, you know, I do PD because that's how we met, right? So for people who might not know, PD is professional development. And so to be able to use the performing arts to kind of refresh teachers and revive them, because I know that the classroom can be so taxing. And all of the responsibilities that are put on teachers today, I always say all the teachers should get a raise because it's incredible what the teachers are already doing. Like, before all of these other initiatives came in place, teachers were like they were already heroes, taking care of the babies and tying shoestrings and being a friend and a mother and a father and a sister and a brother, like an auntie and an educator and all of those things to kids.

[07:03] Dr. Diane: Exactly.

[07:04] Wincey: And then now we have all these new initiatives where the teachers, your job could be in jeopardy if your kids don't pass a test, all of the state testing. And then I say all the time about the kids and all the things that they have to deal with. Now, I know when I was growing up, the only drills we had was like, we had fire drills, and that was kind of it. And now our babies have active shooter drills and all this other stuff to think about. So the conversation about whether teachers should be armed, it's just so much on teachers. So anything I can do to just kind of make it a little bit lighter for them to teach what they have to teach and make it fun? Absolutely. I'm happy to do that.

[07:47] Dr. Diane: Yeah. My baby reminded me the other day that her generation is the first generation that has grown up knowing nothing but active shooter drills. She just turned 20, and she was explaining to me sort of how that shapes Gen Z and kind of the way that they look at the world. And so I agree with you. Anything we can do to make a difference for teachers and those babies and those students is huge.

[08:12] Wincey: Yeah.

[08:13] Dr. Diane: So walk me through sort of one of your programs. I know I had seen online that you do stuff with gender, for example, in history. How do you pick the people that you're going to highlight, what goes into a program like that? What kind of reaction do you get?

[08:29] Wincey: Okay. My programming started with Black History being the first program. One of the things that I wanted to focus on when I realized that this could really be a thing was people who are under celebrated. So the Women's History program was one that came after the Black History program. And I wanted to talk about people who, women who you may not have heard of. So I don't know if people know, but the design on the back of the dime was done by a woman. So I say that to students. Now, it used to be a lot more common to say to students, you know what? If you have a dime, like reach in your pockets. If you have a dime, flip it over. Now, people don't actually carry cash. So then I have to say, the next time you get your hands on a dime, flip it over. The design on the back of the dime was by a woman. Has anyone ever been to New York? If you rode through the Holland Tunnel the Holland Tunnel was designed by a man named Clifford Holland. But the lights in the Holland Tunnel were designed by a woman named Gertrude Grant. It kind of went like this — and then I'll step off stage and then my actors will come on and reenact a situation between Clifford Holland, who was like a big time businessman back in the 20s. So 27 was when the Holland Tunnel was open. 1927. Back in 27, women were not really respected or regarded as people who could really make a real contribution to society. So she's kind of trying to be respectful, but also pushing the fact that, listen, your tunnel is going to open soon. They're bringing the president in by train, okay? Because back in that day, there was no you couldn't just jump on a plane. So they're bringing the President in by train. President Roosevelt, and if the President comes in, everything has to be just right. You don't want any accidents due to poor visibility, which kind of gets him thinking. And so the kids are kind of watching this and she says, what you need are lights in your tunnel. And he says, well, if I need lights in my tunnel because he's not admitting that he hadn't thought of that, then I'll research and I'll have a man down at the plant give me a referral for a good lighting designer in electrical. And she says it, you’re with an electrical engineer. Then she hands him her card and she rolls out this blueprint. She says, take a look. Holland I've already figured it out. And so it's kind of like what they call faction. So the facts are there, but then we add a little creative license so the kids can kind of see what might have happened. But the end result is that anytime you go through the Holland Tunnel, you need to thank a woman because it was a woman who designed those lights well.

[11:31] Dr. Diane: And I love the idea that you're calling it faction. I think that's so great, the idea of fact and action. And then I know when I'm working with students and teachers, I'll take those stories and add the next piece where they have to take on an engineering challenge and try to build it themselves. So, like Emily Roebling, have you run into her story? I love to tell kids about the fact that her husband was literally sick in bed for ten years, and she's the one who got the Brooklyn Bridge built. And I have them then try to design a bridge, and we give them sort of a challenge, and they do it out of recycled materials. And I've had kids build literally across two giant tables trying to figure out, how do you engineer a suspension bridge?

[12:16] Wincey: Oh, great. That's so great for students to really be able to try those things, like really apply those things. Because the babies now, they're digital natives, so everything is kind of all figured out with them in this new technology. AI our cognitive processes are really kind of being, why don't I say it, weakened? Let me just say they're not as strong as they could be because we don't get a lot of opportunity to apply and work with our hands the way we used to. So I think that's brilliant that you're doing that with kids.

[12:53] Dr. Diane: And I think that we've got to do that sort of work because, again, it's the hands on, it’s the applying it, but it's also connection because they're then working with each other. They're collaborating, they're communicating. And for me, that's so much more important than a score on a standardized test. I want them to be able to talk to each other and ultimately solve problems together because there's a lot of problems out there waiting for them.

[13:18] Wincey: Exactly. You hit the nail on the head about the problem solving and the EQ. So I'm sure that our viewers know all about IQ and that that's your intelligence quotient, like how many books you read and how well you retain what you read. But all these studies say that EQ is actually as, if not more important than IQ. And that's your emotional quotient. How well you get along with people and how well you can work out conflicts. Because anytime you work with people, they're going to be conflicts, and you have to learn to work them out. So that's so important because if you work with others, even in a setting like that, that could be a game where the stakes are not life or death. You get to interact and know other people and how they might think and have the contribution of their ideas, kind of factor that in to what maybe you didn't think of. I think it's great and it's so important with our social media now. They call it social media, but I call it antisocial media. 

Dr. Diane: Oh, I like that because people's faces are in their phones, and so you don't really get to talk to people as much.

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[15:43] Dr. Diane: So what are some of the stories like in Black History Month that we don't know that we ought to know?

[15:48] Wincey: Yes. Awesome. I love it. So one of the things that I talk about is how African people were actually kings and queens way back in Africa. The oldest bones ever found were found in Africa. So that's the birthplace of the original man. And a lot of the things that we use today were created by African and African American people. We were master scientists, but because the law said that we were three fifths of a person, we couldn't get a patent. So a lot of times, the slave master would take his slave to the patent office and have them explain the invention because the slave master couldn't explain it because he didn't invent it. But there was someone in the patent office who was kind of hiding, and they worked in the patent office. They were taking their own notes about who was actually bringing this stuff to the forefront, who was inventing this stuff, who was explaining it. And so things like the guitar, the gas mask, the golf tea, the sugar crystal horseshoe, riding saddle, all those things made by a black man. And I put them in a little jingle.

[16:55] Dr. Diane: Oh, wow.

[16:56] Wincey: Yeah. So the kids can sing along, and their part is made by a black man. So I'll say, here's another invention nobody ever mentioned. And then I'll say, sharpen your pencil. The pencil sharpener. The pencil sharpener made by a black man. And then we'll do guitar, and we keep just going through the jingle so they get to get it in their head and sing some of those things.

[17:17] Dr. Diane: Oh, I love that. And I love the fact that you're linking the arts to that as well, because when you add the music, it's memorable.

[17:24] Wincey: Yes. I have people who are like adults now, and I'll see them in a neighborhood. I'll be like, in a supermarket or in a shopping mall. They'll say, Ms. Wincey, you came to my school when I was little and you sang that song made by a black man. And I still remember it, and I'll say, like, who are all those little people around you? Oh, these are my children. Oh, my gosh, you see your children? How old am I? I look pretty good for 100, don't I?

[17:52] Dr. Diane: It's amazing how they grow up and we don't.

[17:54] Wincey: I know, exactly right. Thank you.

[17:58] Dr. Diane: I love that. So as you've used music as sort of your vehicle for educating, what have been some of the unexpected joys of that? And how hard is it to get teachers and students to buy in?

[18:16] Wincey: One recent joy is that I'm a New Jersey performing I'm in New Jersey, for those of you who don't know, I'm a teaching artist. A teaching artist for the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. We have an arts education component where we send teaching artists out into schools. So back in 25 years ago actually now 25 years ago, I went to NJPAC, and I wasn't working there yet. And I said to them, I have an assembly program, which is a black history program, and I want to do it here. And the gentleman who was working there at the time said, sure, come down, we'll put you to work, is what he said. So I called and I came down, and a woman came I don't even remember who that woman is, but she came to a conference room, much like what you see behind you, and she slid a W nine across the table. So those of you don't know, W nine is for an independent contractor, it's sort of like if you were going to get a job at someplace you might fill out, like a job application, you'd have a different document to fill out. But for independent contractors, it's a W nine. You see I'm always teaching, right? Yes. I was thinking, oh, I already work here. How cool is that? So I filled out the paperwork, and I'm thinking, okay, like, when do I do my show? And she says, okay, somebody will get in contact with you. They called me in for training, and I'm wondering, what kind of training are you going to give me? It's my show. But I go in and they train me on what you met me doing, Wolf Trap. So they're saying, okay, you'll do a week of training, and then we'll tell you what next steps are. So it's me and a bunch of other artists. I'm thinking, are there all these people doing their shows here? Still didn't know what I was getting involved in? But I was taking the training, thinking, like, maybe it's some sort of onboarding. So I start doing some training, and then I learn all about Wolf Trap. Love it so much. So grateful for that intro, like, the entry into the early childhood space to work with classroom teachers in that intimate setting, because it's different from an assembly program where you're on stage and you don't really get to shake hands and hug people and talk to them and play games with them like that. It's just a show, and it's an educational show, and it comes with a lesson plan. But I don't want to call it just a show. It's different. Like, the education delivery is different. I pursued a couple of years later, what's going on. Do you allow your artists to do shows there? But it turned out that they didn't have anything worked out where artists, local artists, could do their shows. They bring in big name acts from around the world to NJPAC. 24 years later, someone from NJPAC calls me. So a lot of the people who were there when I came, they're gone. But a woman calls me and says, we're starting this pilot, and we want to invite some of our teaching artists to do their shows here on the stage. So the criteria, the reason that we picked you is because all of your stuff is original. Even your music is original. So we don't have to get into the whole, like, copyright or licensing or anything like that. You can just do your educational piece here. We know you have an early childhood piece called Character Rocks. We'd like you to do that here. It was so amazing for me, so it took a year for us to kind of codify it and plan it. And so I just did it at NJPAC a few weeks ago with my cast. And Character Rocks is about a little girl who visits the rock garden, and she meets these rocks, these talking rocks. So my actors are dressed like, they're dressed like rocks. So big puffy costumes, you might remember or you might be too young, the New Zoo Revue, remember that? Okay, so the New Zoo Revue, how they have those big puffy costumes. So they're dressed like that, and the costuming looks like granite. So you can see how they would look like big, puffy rocks. And they're dancing rocks. They're talking rocks and singing, and they teach her all about being a good person, like character. And then I come out and I sing songs with the audience, like Character rocks, character rings. I'm so cool when I do the right thing. Say yeah. Say yeah. And then the rots dance. And it was a lot of fun. It was so exciting for me and my cast and the kids. It was to a sold out audience. So the room seats 515. I think we had, like, 501 one day or 497 the other day.

[22:47] Dr. Diane: And what are some of the elements of character rocks in terms of the qualities that you learned to be a nice person.

[22:54] Wincey: Yes. So the little girl, her name is Carly, and she's jealous because it's somebody else's birthday, not her. So she's mad, and she's in the rock garden, she thinks, by herself, and she says, I'm not going to this party because everybody thinks Christy is so cool and they're going to want to be her BFF and take pictures with her. Well, I'm mad and I'm not going. And then one of the rocks who they're all frozen on stage, like kind of looking at tableau, so the kids don't even know they're real. And then one of the rocks comes out and says, Carly, what's the matter? Is something wrong? Are you out here by yourself? So we get through what it means to be jealous and how it means that something good is happening for somebody else and you're not happy for them because you want it to be you instead of them. And then the first rock who introduces herself says, my name is Citizenship. Can you say my name? Citizenship is when you are kind to your neighbors and friends, when you do your part to make the place where you are a better place. When you show a helping hand. And then the other rock comes out and he says, my name is Kindness, and I'm always kind. People love having me around because I'm kind and I'm happy and joyful, and I bring other people joy. And then Carly starts asking questions like, well, what if people are not nice to you? And he says, I'm still kind. And she says, what if they said they're not your friend? He says, still kind. And one of the kids in the audience each show, like, kids would say things out loud because they're little kids, so they don't even think about that. She said, what if they say they're not your friend? And he says still kind. And one of the kids in the audience said, no way. Really? The best. They are the best because they're so honest, they're so genuine. So we go through the whole thing, and by the end end, Carly realizes, like, one of the first things I say to them is that, oh, you guys are going to help Carly learn a really great lesson. She's going to meet some rocks in the garden. You guys ever been to a garden? So we talk about the different kinds of gardens with the audience, like, what kind of garden have you been to? A rose garden? A fruit garden? And then I say, well, Carly's going to go to the rock garden. She's going to learn what you guys probably already know. Who wants to be cool? Everybody raises their hand. I say, I know I do. Well, you know what? Carly is going to learn that it's always cool to do the right thing if you want to be cool, all you have to do is do the right thing. The way I learn to be cool is I learn to do and then by then, they're saying it with me, the right thing. So throughout the show, we keep going back to, oh, Carly still got a lot to learn about being cool, but you already know that if you want to be cool, it's always cool to do the right thing. Exactly. So then we learn about respect, and one of the rock’s name is Respect, one of the rock’s name is justice. And then, like I said, kindness and citizenship. And so there are nine components of the character. So we talk about those nine, but kind of like in a song. So we sing Citizenship about taking turns. Celebrate me, I'll celebrate you. That's what friends and neighbors do. You're happy for me. And tomorrow it flips because that's what we call citizenship, and the kids say citizenship. So we set that whole thing up for them to sing along.

[25:53] Dr. Diane: And the target audience is early elementary and early childhood?

[25:57] Wincey: Exactly. I say to the schools, this is great for like three to six, seven year olds like that. But I have seen schools bring, like, fifth graders to the auditorium. Like, we didn't have anybody to watch them, so we just brought them down and they're singing along like, you're happy for me and tomorrow. So that's the thing about music. It's so universal.

[26:20] Dr. Diane: Well, I'm kind of feeling like you need to take this out on the road to some House of Representatives, halls of Congress, elected leaders. Wouldn't that be awesome?

[26:29] Wincey: Yeah. Not that they don't need it either, right?

[26:33] Dr. Diane: Like, we could all use a great lesson, and it would be nice to have that refresher.

[26:36] Wincey: Yes, right? Exactly.

[26:38] Dr. Diane: So when you're doing this with kids, are there things for the adults as well? Like, do you have lesson plans and links and additional ideas for the grownups? Because as you're talking, I'm thinking about like, a gazillion children's picture books that match up beautifully.

[26:55] Wincey: Yes. So, actually, character rock. So the Character Rock show is based on my book, Character Rocks, and it's a coloring book with the CD in the back with the three songs. And one of the things that NJPAC kind of drove me to do, since I was going to do the show there on that main stage, usually when I'm doing a school, I can carry the books with me, I can offer them to the principals. But when we realized that we were going to do it there and I wouldn't be able to just kind of talk to them because it was kind of Broadway ish outside of the performance, I decided that it would be great to just put it on my website. So NJPAC made this QR code where you could hear like, an interview with me about why I decided to do Character Rocks, learn a little bit about the show, lesson plans. They called it a TRG. So a teacher Resource guide links to the songs. And it was so great because we did a little Q and A after the shows, and one of the little boys in the balcony raised his hand and he said, where can I buy the book? Like, these little kids are so sad. They're so great. So, yes, I was right on the website.

[28:05] Dr. Diane: That's wonderful. And are there teacher resource guides for all of your shows?

[28:10] Wincey: Yes, absolutely. So there's a lesson plan, teacher resource guide for every single show that we do, because we want schools and teachers to understand that we know that it's not a one and done, and we don't want them to think of it as a show because it's more than a show. There are lesson plans that you can use to intro the show, kind of like as a precursor or as a follow up with activities that you can have the children do in the classroom and almost like scripted lesson plans that teachers can choose to if they feel like, uncomfortable sharing a certain topic, they can just read this about black history. Sometimes I find that teachers feel that they shouldn't be the one to share Black history. Or even, we have a Latin Heritage program. They feel like, you know what? I don't want to get into spots where students might ask me questions, so just kind of giving them some guidance into how to share the material so that everybody, every nationality and group, gets honored right.

[29:17] Dr. Diane: And integrated throughout the school year and not just in a particular month as well.

[29:21] Wincey: Thank you so much. And it's still a challenge that we're faced with. We find that schools can be sort of holiday centric, if I could say that.

[29:32] Dr. Diane: Correct.

[29:33] Wincey: February 1 through the 28th, people are calling for Black History programs, and if we're all booked up, then they say, all right, we'll see you next year.

[29:41] Dr. Diane: Instead of just come and bring you in in May.

[29:45] Wincey: Exactly. Right. Because it's history.

[29:47] Dr. Diane: Right?

[29:48] Wincey: Yeah. Same thing with Latin heritage. It's May, Cinco de Mayo, but Hispanic Heritage Month actually happens September 15 through October 15. And so if schools haven't planned it the year before, a lot of times when you go into the school year, you're so inundated, you don't really have time to kind of plan a program. So a lot of times that Heritage spot does not get filled or honored.

[30:15] Dr. Diane: Right. And it even straddles two different months, which gives you twice the opportunity.

[30:20] Wincey: Right, yeah, exactly.

[30:23] Dr. Diane: That's really interesting.

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[30:56] Dr. Diane: And you'll walk away with a new.

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[31:47] Dr. Diane: So as you're thinking and creating, because I know you've been doing this for a good while now, what sparks you to want to create something new? Are there new programs in the works, new ideas that you're feeling motivated to do?

[32:01] Wincey: Yes. For me, I always say everybody has a mentor, like a spirit influence, and while nobody can do everything, everybody can do something. So for me, that Black History program again, I felt like it was an accident until I started thinking back about how strategic God is and how he put things together. My aunt was a classroom teacher, and she would say things like, somebody's got to tell people about all the great things that black people did and how brilliant they are. And of course, I was a little girl when she was saying that, so I didn't think that it could ever be me. I wasn't thinking about that. I was thinking, yes, somebody's got to do that. But then as I grew older, I learned about John Maxwell, who's a brilliant leader, and he said he was coming back from some leadership workshop in Africa once, and he's an older white man, but he was in Africa for some leadership conference and speaking to the African people. And he said he was saying to his wife on the plane, somebody's got to teach those people about leadership. And she said, Maybe that's supposed to be you. How do I teach African people about leadership? But it never left him. And that's kind of how these things happen for me now. So once I learned the template, the Black History thing, and it just opened up the opportunity when I just thought I was going in and tell stories and sing songs, because that was what was easy for me then. Schools were saying, principals were saying, do you do anything for Women's History Month? Do you do anything for Hispanic heritage? Do you do? And then I started thinking, yeah, I could just use the same template, story song narration, story song narration and then look for unsung heroes. And so I started doing that. And then I learned about the early childhood population and how nobody's really talking to them so much and they are such sponges. Absolutely. No, you can teach little people anything because for them, anything is possible. So they don't have the walls that we have. Like, oh, I can't remember, that my brain. I'm older. They don't feel it. Whatever you tell them in their minds, okay, we can do it. That's why they can speak different languages. Like, they can learn anything. I was thinking we need to get these programs spiraled down so little people can access them. So that's when I wrote, I learned about bullying. And because I have friends who are educators, they kind of always tell me what's coming down the pike. Like, you know what? Bullying is starting to be a really big problem in the school, and they're finding that little babies bully. So I said, you know what? Little babies, they can't really even pronounce bullying. Like, they say Buddhin and buddy. So maybe teach them what bullying is because they're doing it, but they don't know that that's what that is. So I came up with this little jingle, bullying is wrong. If you're pushing, bullying is wrong. Let's all get along because bullying is wrong. So then again, same situation. We have been singing and clapping. Like, friends like to play nicely. That's what good friends do. And if you really are a friend, you'll play nicely too. Never try to hurt someone or make somebody cry. Listen up, here's the reason why. Because if you're pushing and then they notice a bullying is wrong. So we put that in and then we show them like, little scenarios. Like, two little kids come out on stage. Well, I hire adults, but they're small in frame, so they look like little kids. Sure, dress like little kids. And then one says, I'm hiding from my friends because sometimes they push me and they kick me and hurt my feelings. And then the other friend says, did you tell your teacher? No, I didn't tell my teacher because I don't want them to think I'm a Tattletale. Sometimes the same thing happens to me. Did you tell your teacher? No. Should we tell, like, will we be Tattletales? So just kind of like laying all that out for little kids so they know the difference between asking for help and paddling and putting it on stage like a show and making it musical and interactive. And then I come back out and sing the song with them. So it's a lot of fun. And there are a couple of songs throughout the show.

[36:23] Dr. Diane: And when I saw you, you were teaching teachers how to use songs and math. How did that come about?

[36:30] Wincey: Yeah. So Wolf Trap is a national, some of you may have heard of Wolf Trap, but Wolf Trap is a national park in Vienna, Virginia. And they have a great performing arts program where they bring in acts, named acts from all over the nation. And then they are the leader in early childhood arts education. So within their programming, they send artists into schools. And so New Jersey is a Wolf Trap affiliate, and I just kept working at my Wolf Trap programming and learning the strategies so that I could one day become a master. So now I am a master, which means that I am also local. I'm local to New Jersey, but I'm also national, so they fly me around the nation. So I met Diane in one of my workshops where I was teaching math. Because there are some I think one of the things that some of the governmental programs and educators like the Department of Education is really starting to understand is how important math skills are for everybody but for young people. And I say, this is my own theory. I say that with the introduction of the cell phones and how everybody has a phone in their hand, it prompts you to just go for the answer as opposed to trying to figure anything out so your figure ground is not being strengthened. So they started this initiative and this program, and there are some funders, like big corporations who say, put the math residency at this school, put the math residency at this school so that little people can learn about math before they get a chance to get intimidated about it, right? So taking math and making it a game or teaching geometry, which is shapes, so people like, you know, a shape. Like, if I were to hold up a square, you know it was a square, but you might not realize that that's geometry. So once you say, oh, this is a square, and this is a cylinder, and this is a can, holding up a can and showing children like, what shape is this? Once they know it's a cylinder. Yet you are so great at geometry. So working in that pedagogy of confidence, getting them to feel like, oh, this is math. Well, this is just shapes. This is so much fun, or this is math, this is just operations. This is just adding three people to the line that one person was already on and then counting the total. So making it fun. So teachers can kind of feel empowered about really kind of what they're already doing, but now we're naming it.

[39:24] Dr. Diane: Exactly. And I think that for me, was the key as I was observing, is I watched these teachers get fired up about math and about singing and storytelling. And what you were really doing was linking together things so that people were building connections that you're using the arts to do math, but you're also connecting it to science. You're doing dinosaurs. Let's count how many dinosaurs there are in the room. Let's measure according to how big a preschooler is and lay them head to toe and count out the preschoolers. Let's talk geometry. Let's actually measure the diameter of a tyrannosaurus rex mouth and see how many of us we can get inside of it.

[40:02] Wincey: Right, exactly. Things like that, that help children figure out, like, conservation. If we're all together and then we're all apart, is it the same number of people? So, again, empowering the teachers to just be able to label what they're really doing in the classroom already.

[40:18] Dr. Diane: Exactly. And I think that's so important. And helping teachers to feel validated and appreciated when they try to add these elements in instead of telling them they have to be taught. Teach to the test, teach the worksheet, giving them the chance to be creative and put these wonderful, powerful moments in. Because kids need experiences to learn.

[40:39] Wincey: Right.

[40:40] Dr. Diane: And that's what I felt your workshop was really giving, was giving teachers the framework for these experiences.

[40:47] Wincey: Yeah.

[40:48] Dr. Diane: So a couple more questions. You've referenced your actors. How many people are performing for you, and where do you find your actors?

[40:56] Wincey: Good question. So we have about 50 people, and everybody doesn't fit in every single show. So typically it's usually about anywhere from, like, average ten people, eight to ten people per show. And I'm right next to New York. So I live in the part of New Jersey. I can be in New York in 20 minutes. In fact, the other night, it was like, 930. My husband had just gotten off a zoom call, and he said, let's go get ice cream in the Village. Jumped in the car and went over to New York City. And we were over there in, like, 20 minutes. So that's how close I lived to New York. So most of the actors, people come from all over the world, Diane, to live in New York, to act, to perform.

[41:36] Dr. Diane: My daughter's one of them.

[41:37] Wincey: Really? Okay, wonderful. I place ads in the performance circulars. I used to say newspapers, but they don't really exist. But the performance circulars like, who I'm looking for. So looking for actors with daytime availability who play young or depending on the role. So for some of the historical pieces, I may need a couple of people who can play, like, younger, but then I might need some people who can play, like, grandparents. So I place those ads, and then I usually try to get a few people who know the same roles, because, again, with actors, a lot of them do other jobs. They work in restaurants and things like that, and they could pick up a tour at any time. That's like the actor's dream. So what we do is we do a local school tour. But a lot of times for actors, if they can go away, for sure.

[42:36] Dr. Diane: You pick up a national tour. You're going to take the national tour.

[42:39] Wincey: Exactly. They want to do that. We have about 50 people on our kind of like our roster, but again, it's about eight to ten people per show at a time.

[42:50] Dr. Diane: And if people want to book your shows, what is sort of the region that you do shows? How far are you willing to travel?

[42:57] Wincey: We go anywhere. So we have gone as far as Florida. Usually in the car. We do New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware. But like I said, we've gone as far as Florida. I actually just did a thing in Jamaica. Again, with schools, our dream is to take some of these shows and get them into theater houses, like performing arts centers, so that we can do like, a cluster of dates in certain areas. But there's no place that we wouldn't go as long as we could be taken care of. Like, I have to take care of my actors. Of course, people don't quite understand that because they feel like, oh, it's acting just like community theater. Just do it for free. But because I'm a performer, I so respect my performers, and they absolutely have to be paid.

[43:51] Dr. Diane: Oh, of course. And we'll include in the show notes, how to contact you, how to book. Now, I also noticed that you have a TV show.

[44:00] Wincey: Yes. You know what? When COVID hit, one of the things that was important to me was offering strategies to parents so that they could teach their young people at home, because a lot of parents ended up home schooling. There are so many things that you don't think about because you live, like, in your world. And unless somebody explains to you what's going on in the world or in their world so what I learned is that even though. All of the little children that I encounter know how to use a phone and swipe a phone. And if they're watching YouTube and that little skip ad thing comes up, they don't even know what it says. Diane but they know how to tap it. So to go away, like, it's amazing, but a lot of households in a lot of communities had one cell phone. Like, the mom had the cell phone and she needed it, or she had to go to work or whatever the story was. So I would be zooming with kids, like, teaching online, and the mother would come and get the phone and say, I have to go to work now, and just in the kid. So other parents would call schools, like, crying, like, I don't know how to teach him. He's going to be so far behind. So then a friend of mine started a network, and she said, I'd like to offer you the opportunity to teach online. Wait, I'm swearing. Wait a minute. I'd like to offer you the opportunity to teach online. She said you could do a show actually, what she offered me, she said you could do a show about any topic, maybe the human trafficking awareness work that you do. And I said, that's a dark topic that I don't think people would want to hear about, like, every day or every week for 30 minutes. So what we settled on was that I would make some PSAs for her about human trafficking awareness because I'd come up with a little jingle about being safe. And it turned out that while people thought that kids were safer at home, they were actually even in more danger at home. But I said I wanted to do something bright and happy with strategies in it for families so that they could if they're teaching at home, they could learn about strategies for reading and teaching your children how to write. And so I came up with this Wincey Co workshop, and it's on Roku on Saturday mornings at 10:00 a.m.. I believe that they're still I told the woman, you can run the reruns for as long as you like. I have since stopped creating new content. It takes a lot of content yes, it does. To keep the attention of little people like that for that amount of time and then a lot of editing and a lot of work and visuals and things

[47:09] Dr. Diane: It becomes a full time job.

[47:11] Wincey: My goodness. You know what I mean? Yeah. So I stopped creating new content, but I gave her the license to run those reruns for as long as she wanted to because people would call and say it's so helpful to just that portion at the top where you clap out names for kids and they learned about syllables. It kind of puts the phonemic awareness back into reading.

[47:36] Dr. Diane: So I'll include a link if people want to catch the reruns as well. Perfect.

[47:40] Wincey: Thank you.

[47:41] Dr. Diane: So couple last questions for you. What currently brings you joy?

[47:47] Wincey: Well, creating and working with actors, one of the things that I love most is I meet a lot of actors who have come to New York City and I am their first opportunity. So because teaching is so natural for me, it comes so natural for me. I like getting artists who may have just graduated from college in Alabama or they came from another country, and their dream is to be rich and famous in New York City and be in movies. And so what I do is I work with them to teach them how to audition. There's a girl in one of my shows, and I was helping her through a zoom audition. She was auditioning for me, and I said, do you have a monologue? And she just burst into tears. And I said oh, wait. It's okay. She said nobody told me. Nobody told me. And she was shaking her hands and everything. And I said, okay. It's okay. So you don't have to have a monologue for today, but get yourself a monologue. Get yourself a comedic and a dramatic monologue. And then this is kind of how you want to dress. When you are dressing for auditions, you want to make sure that you're covered because you want people to focus on your talent and not have any idea that this can be a very dangerous industry, so not think that you might be offering anything else. So I'm kind of like an elder now in the business. So I love giving them their first shot on stage in the New York City area and paying them for it because a lot of actors also do community theater for the experience. So for them to get a check, it's so exciting for them. And then I have some investment licenses and life insurance licenses. So I'm a producer, so I can write investments for people. So trying to teach performers how to set up a portfolio so that you have money that you can pull from like a Roth IRA, so that if you get in trouble later, you have money. And when you get ready to retire, you've taken a little bit of money from everything that you've made and put it away. So for me, it's kind of like a well rounded opportunity to seed and sow into the next generation of performers.

[50:11] Dr. Diane: Sure. You're planting seeds for legacy.

[50:14] Wincey: Yeah.

[50:15] Dr. Diane: And so what brings you hope these days?

[50:18] Wincey: The little people. The little people being able to share. Like that little kid who said no way about being kind to other people, even if they're not kind to you. Being able to go to the schools and actually if it's permissible, so if I'm doing a school and if the stage is low enough, I will come down off the stage and I will talk to little kids and they will mostly want to hug you before anybody.

[50:54] Dr. Diane: Absolutely.

[50:56] Wincey: And you think about the little people who don't they don't get that. I know.

[51:00] Dr. Diane: And they really need it.

[51:02] Wincey: Yeah, they need that. So I'm hopeful about the next generation of children, people like me and you and the teachers that we kind of help remember their value and then help them soften their heart so that they can be gentle with our babies so that they understand that there are options other than being raised by the media. Because social media really is raising a lot of our babies. So whatever influences they see there, that's what they take on to be the direction that they should follow. But then you have people like me and you who will come in and say, oh, it's good to be a good citizen and it's good to show kindness and be patient with your friends. And those kind of things bring me hope for the future.

[51:46] Dr. Diane: Well Wincey Terry Bryant, you bring me hope as well. And thank you so much for being the first guest on season three. I will put all of the contact info in the show notes, and it has been so delightful to have you on.

[51:59] Wincey: Thank you, Diane. Thanks for having me. It's been my pleasure.