PIPERS AND POSSUMS: Troy University program brings books, animals to life

Published 3:00 am Wednesday, April 19, 2017

John Morse from Big Bend Wildlife showed off their Red Tailed Hawk, one of the many birds at their sanctuary, at the Troy University Quad Tuesday during Earth Week. Pre-K students from Dothan learned about the many different types of birds at the event.

“Pied Pipers and Possum Day” at Troy University Tuesday brought to life a children’s book, “Brown Bear, Brown Bear,” and the folk tale, “The Three Little Pigs,” and also gave the pre-kindergarten students from Dothan an up-close visit with animals from the Big Bend Wildlife Sanctuary.

Tori Lee-Averett, Troy University director of Theater and Dance, expressed appreciation for the opportunity for the Pied Pipers to perform for the students who are enrolled in the Project Pre-K to K Transition Program.

“The Troy University Pied Pipers performance group was founded by Dr. David Dye (former dean of the university’s College of Communication and Fine Arts) in the 1970s,” Lee-Averett said. “The idea for Pied Pipers was to bring to life stories, fables and folk tales for little ones ages eight and under. Over the years, the Pied Pipers would be very visible for a while and then not so visible. We are excited that the Pied Pipers are back in action.”

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The “Pipers” are selected for one year through an audition process. Eleven Pied Pipers performed for the pre-K students from Eastside Childcare Learning Center and Pal-A-Roos Daycare in Dothan on Tuesday.

The Pied Pipers had the youngsters squealing with delight and “totally involved” in their performance. However, the Pied Pipers seemed to have just as much fun as the children.

“Pied Pipers and Possum Day” was funded through a reading improvement grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

“In Alabama, we rank very low in preparing our children for school,” said Dr. Cynthia Hicks, Troy University College of Education. “The area we’re in has a very high poverty rate. We’re trying to go into those high-need areas where children may not be receiving the support they need to prepare them for school experiences.”

Hicks said all the available research indicates if children have that firm foundation they will be successful.

“We’re trying to lay that foundation, providing all of this that the Kellogg Foundation is helping us financially to support,” she said.