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  • Sonya Sharififard

Volunteer Brings Storytelling Theater to Step Up Ventura

As a retired special education teacher with a rich background in theater performance, Suzan Thatcher continually seeks opportunities to serve children through the arts. Suzan is currently serving children who are Home Schooled, providing their specially designed instruction to support their learning. In addition to that role, Suzan recently accepted the position of Director of Youth and Family at the Ventura Center for Spiritual Living (VCSL) with the vision of creating a theater/arts performance program for the youth to provide opportunities for them to serve within the church.

At VCSL, Suzan met SUV Executive Director, Mary Kerrigan, and her husband David Kerrigan. Being immediately drawn to the idea of Step Up Ventura’s mission, Suzan promised Mary that once she retires, she would volunteer to come to the preschool for storytelling.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Suzan and her storytelling partner, Barb Pedziwiatr created an interactive storytelling theater format and presented The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, based on the book by Jon Scieszka, to a lively group audience, included several students and staff as well as Mary Kerrigan in the production. When they realized that doors would be closed for some time, they began to pull together a production team of dedicated professionals to create magic via film and YouTube so that the students could continue to enjoy their “stories”. It is the team’s mission to bring literature and personal growth through theater and the arts to children wherever they can.

As Suzan exclaims “It brings joy which knows no bounds to see children caught up in sharing a story. Each story teaches a lesson of love, perspective, and inclusion which are beautiful reminders for all. The characters in The True Story of the Three Little Pigs remind us that we all know what we know through our own lens and how important it is to look at life through someone else’s eyes for understanding. Our plan is to continue filming as well as visiting the preschools as they reopen. We believe both benefit the children and can be utilized within the existing curriculum to enhance and strengthen skills of character, confidence, and communication. The performing arts and all art programs build our sense of who we are through problem solving, improvisation, patience, resiliency, communication, teamwork, and empathy among so many other attributes. The Arts are the bridge to the soul. We must keep those bridges open to our children if we are to support them in creating a beautiful and peaceful world for us all. I look forward to serving in whatever capacity I can to support Step Up Ventura. Storytelling Theater is my passion. What a gift to be allowed to share this with the students of Step Up. Thank You.”

To watch Suzan, Barb, and Mary’s performance of The True Story of The Three Little Pigs, visit

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