The Shakespeare in the Schools Partnership Initiative, led by Dr. Barbara Mather Cobb, is a partnership between the university and schools in the region. Partner teachers are provided with training, resources, and support in incorporating Shakespeare into their curricula.
The National Common Core Standards and the standards set by Kentucky Senate Bill 1 make clear that students should be engaging with challenging texts in reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Every activity in the Shakespeare in the Schools curricula is keyed to the Common Core Standards.
Because we work as a partnership, teachers adapt the program created by Dr. Cobb to their own needs, and the teachers in the partnership work together to meet the goals set at the local, state, and national levels, to help our students to be well-prepared for reading, writing, speaking, listening, and thinking in secondary and post-secondary education and in the work world beyond.
When elementary and middle school students “play” with Shakespeare, they make it their own. By making Shakespeare their own, students are ready and willing to engage Shakespeare’s texts, and other “challenging” texts, now and in their futures.
A student who has studied Shakespeare before high school is far less resistant to, and far less intimidated by, Shakespeare in high school. Shakespeare in the Schools students will say, “Shakespeare? I’ve been reading his plays since I was nine!”
Jillian Starman, of CPE, called the Initiative “the best kept secret in Kentucky.” Kentucky Education Commissioner Dr. Terry Holliday, who participated in a third-grade Shakespeare in the Schools unit at Murray Elementary School in 2012, said of the initiative, “we need to spread this.”
The Shakespeare in the Schools Partnership Initiative and the Murray Shakespeare Festival are dedicated to spreading Shakespeare to students throughout the commonwealth.