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Charlotte Blake Alston shares stories of African and African American history and culture with students in grades 1-3.

Renowned storyteller Charlotte Blake Alston taught and provided smiles for grades 1-3 on Tuesday, February 6, sharing interesting stories of African and African American history and traditions.

Alston taught about Bessie Coleman, the first woman of African American and Native American descent to earn her pilot's license in the United States. She also taught about African musical instruments like the djembe drum, keeping the young students engaged by playing the instrument as she unveiled her creative tales.

Coleman inspired so many people to reach for the skies, because her journey to becoming a successful pilot was difficult and she needed to overcome roadblocks, Alston said. “You haven't lived unless you follow your own gifts," she added.

A teacher-coach earlier in her career, Alston has traveled around the country for more than three decades educating by sharing stories. In introducing her, Lower School Director Michelle Alexander noted that Alston has visited Norfolk Academy in the past and “she is able to breathe life into stories." 

Alston explained that storytelling is not simply reading a story from a book. “A storyteller uses words to create pictures in your mind," she said. And as she unwound each story during her almost hour-long presentation, she used her words and musical instruments to get students laughing, clapping, cheering, and listening.

Now living in Pennsylvania, Alston remarked that she always enjoys coming to NA. Before embarking on her storytelling career, she taught elementary age children in a few different grades. She also coached older students in basketball.

Alston has appeared at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Smithsonian Institution, international Storytelling Festivals, and many more prominent locations.

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