Ms. Tania Czerkas and Barrel of Monkeys

Barrel of Monkeys is an ensemble of actor/educators working in collaboration with McPherson fourth and fifth grade classrooms to produce original theatrical works based on students’ stories. Ms. Tania Czerkas, fourth grade teacher, spoke with us about her role in this exciting and fun partnership.

First - we'd love to hear about you! How long have you worked at McPherson? What is your position there?

My name is Tania Czerkas. I have been teaching here at McPherson for 25 of my 27 years. I currently teach fourth grade and have done so for at least half of my years. Prior to that I taught second and third grades in the classroom as well as sixth through eighth grades in an after-school dance program which culminated in a yearly springtime Variety Show directed by Mrs. Low and myself. Additionally I am a current member of our PPLC.

Tell us about working with Barrel of Monkeys. What ages of kids participate? What are activities and events like? 

Barrel of Monkeys is currently working with our fourth and fifth grade classrooms. Barrel of Monkeys (BOM) is an ensemble of actor/educators who create an alternative learning environment in which children share their personal voices and celebrate the power of their imaginations. BOM accomplishes this through creative writing workshops and in-school performances of children’s stories. BOM actor/educators visit our classroom weekly for a total of eight sessions. Students’ original stories will be adapted into sketches and songs which will be performed here at McPherson on March 8 at 10:00 am.

What's your favorite part about Barrel of Monkeys?

My favorite part of the BOM visits is seeing the excitement on my students’ faces! The energy the BOM actors/educators bring to our classroom is contagious! I love reading the original stories they create.

Can you describe a recent highlight from this partnership?

A recent highlight from this partnership was when even my most reluctant writers were completely and totally engaged in the writing process. And most importantly...they were having fun while learning!

What goals do you have for this activity going forward?

My goals for this activity going forward are to continue to encourage the love and excitement of the writing process. I will continue to instill in students the reminder from the Barrel of Monkeys Agreement that every idea is a good idea, to support each other’s ideas, and to respect yourself and others. I hope to work with these wonderful actor/educators in future years.

Thank you, Ms. Czerkas, for your dedication to McPherson's students, and thanks to Barrel of Monkeys for this wonderful partnership! 

Friends of McPherson