Bill Gordh

It’s hard to say where a particular journey begins whether with one’s family (my dad was chaplain at Hollins College in Roanoke, VA), friends, schools, jobs – they all play a part. I think mine really starts with storytelling and the inspiration resulting from working with young children. I stayed home with my infant son and discovered the language that precedes words and talk – the heart-to-heart understanding. Go out from there. A new job – assistant to all classes at the Episcopal School in the City of New York – a pre-school. Led music classes when the Music Teacher was away, guided movement classes when the Creative Movement specialist was absent, received support to try out storytelling with each class, provided musical accompaniment and sing-alongs for chapel, and created story assemblies for the young children. It just kept growing. But what I was learning about children and stories as I developed a storytelling curriculum did not align with how the Bible stories were told at our chapels. The tellings seemed to forget about how children listen and how deep their understanding can be if the story is allowed to be rich while being told for these very young children – honoring hearts and souls. The new director was open to re-crafting the telling of the Bible Stories and things were changing. Our next director asked me to lead chapel and tell the stories. We found that when the parents sat with their children and listened together to the stories they each gained understanding through the other. It was profound. It still is. With over 30 years at Episcopal, I have re-told many of the stories dozens of times, yet they are still alive and change with each new listener. That’s a blessing.

Bill Gordh is Director of Expressive Arts at The Episcopal School in the City of New York.