The Traveling Teacher Show

| June 29, 2012

The Traveling Teachers: Miss Stefanie (L), Org Anic the Muppet (C), and Miss Melissa (R)

For the last four years, this fabulous duo (plus a puppet) has been entertaining kids of all ages in the Triangle area, while educating their audience about easy ways to “go green.” Their mission of “Saving the Planet One Kid at a Time” is accomplished at each show through hilarious skits, interactive movement, silly singing, audience participation, and with a take-home craft made from recycled materials.

Editor’s Note: The Traveling Teacher Show is no longer at University Mall. They are still performing in and around the Triangle area and are hosting summer camps for kids at Kidzu this summer! For more information, visit:

The Traveling Teacher Show is not your average children’s show — it is a theatrical extravaganza! Veteran teachers Stefanie Boone and Melissa Stewart have combined their 28 years of experience in the classroom, their love of performing, and their desire to care for the planet Earth to create an amazing production that both entertains and educates young and old. Their enthusiasm is contagious and the energy they devote to each and every show is inspiring. This is a one-of-a-kind act that we are fortunate to have right in our own community!

Miss Stefanie (L) & Miss Melissa (R) Leading Pre-Schoolers in a Dance


Stefanie Boone, a.k.a Miss Stefanie, arrived in North Carolina from Texas six years ago when she and her husband decided to move closer to family. They also knew it would be a great place to raise a their children, ages 4 and 2 at the time. Stefanie’s husband grew up visiting North Carolina and had always wanted to move here permanently. Once here, he felt right at home — after all, his family were direct descendants of the famous North Carolina explorer and pioneer Daniel Boone! Miss Stefanie taught in classrooms of all ages for over a decade in Dallas, Texas and upon moving to the Triangle area, began teaching Spanish in Durham, N.C. to 4th-11th graders.

As fate would have it, Melissa Stewart, a.k.a Miss Melissa, was teaching at the same school in Durham when Stefanie arrived. Melissa had moved to North Carolina from Connecticut 9 years ago. She and her husband knew they wanted to head south to find a better environment in which to raise their children, who were then 5 and 7. They chose North Carolina, although they had never been here before. They simply drove down for a week, and loved it — the weather was great and the people were friendly, so they packed their bags and never looked back.

It did not take long after meeting each other that Miss Stefanie and Miss Melissa realized that by combining their creative talents and passion for teaching, they would make a great team. “Although we each taught students of different ages, our philosophy of education was the same,” Miss Melissa explains. “We were both unconventional in that we believed large amounts of hands on learning for students were imperative. We saw more and more schools dropping creative outlets, and focusing only on passing tests, and making sure every student was in the same place at the same time. We held true to our philosophy that each child learns differently and at a different pace. This made us ‘out of the box’ teachers. Our classrooms were filled with creativity, and we both loved watching the students in our classes find joy in learning. It was out of this philosophy that The Traveling Teacher Show was born.”

They soon realized that The Traveling Teacher Show was the perfect next step in their careers as educators. Miss Stefanie and Miss Melissa left their traditional classroom teaching jobs to do the show full-time four years ago. “From the beginning, it was definitely a natural fit,” states Miss Melissa. “Our creative brains never seem to run out of ideas! We love coming up with new ways in which to engage children, as well as teenagers and adults. We motivate each other because this is our passion. We will always be teachers, just with a bigger classroom and hundreds of students!”

Demonstrating Homemade Instruments Using Empty Pringle’s Cans


Not only were the Traveling Teachers seeking to provide a much-needed creative outlet for children, but also they both felt strongly about making a positive environmental impact in doing so.  “After many years in the classroom, we decided there wasn’t enough being done to educate children about environmental concerns,” Miss Melissa reflects. “We were hearing a lot about ‘going green’ and wanted to bring that concept to children in a fun and exciting way. We became determined to enrich the lives of children by teaching them their role in saving the planet. We knew in order to understand something globally, children had to first learn what it meant to them on their level. For children to comprehend what it means to be ‘Earth-friendly’ it had to be creative, interactive, and fun. We wanted children to realize that even though they were young, they could make a big difference in helping to improve the planet. Our focus was to start teaching eco-friendly concepts simply, so that as children mature, it will become a natural part of their lives.”

Miss Stefanie adds, “Putting our creative heads together, we wrote one performance that used lots of interaction, puppets, and fun characters. We performed our first show in Melissa’s backyard for neighborhood children. That was four years ago, and since that time we have written and performed hundreds of shows that center around environmental education. We also created an educational eco-art program, and have written a curriculum that shows teachers how to bring environmental awareness into their classrooms. We hold teacher-training workshops that are hands on, fun and exciting. Just like the children we present to, we want teachers to walk away knowing they too can make a difference in helping to save the planet.”

Using Paper Cups as Instruments


The Traveling Teacher Show’s performances are so effectively executed because Miss Melissa and Miss Stefanie make their shows seem completely natural and effortless. But behind the scenes, countless hours go into the planning, writing and rehearsing of each show. Miss Melissa explains the process: “We both created our longer performances, and rehearsed them a lot when we first started. Although our main objective was never to memorize anything word for word. Having both been teachers, we kn0w effective learning is never reached through following a curriculum word for word. This is how we approach our performances. We don’t want to have everything memorized as we feel it would not seem authentic to the children.

“We pick our themes a month ahead of time, and sit down to write outlines of each show, from beginning to end. On a weekly basis we talk though the upcoming performances for the week, and see if there is anything we want to change or add. From there, we feel at ease and treat the performance like the classroom. We just start teaching! We know the outline of the show, and after four years of performing together, we are able to do this pretty seamlessly. We really want our performances to feel real for the children. We also have to perform differently based on the crowd. Our performances have a lot of interaction and that cannot be rehearsed.

“Planning our performances does take time, but because we were both teachers and this is our passion, we love the planning stages! One thing we do find is that many people do not know the time and effort that has gone into what they are watching for an hour. There are many hours of planning that go on behind the scenes, but it is all worth it when we see children and families engaged in the program. We are The Traveling Teacher Show so ‘traveling’ means that packing up, setting up the stage and craft, performing, cleaning up and breaking down are all a part of our performance. Although it does take a lot of time and energy, it is all part of who we are, and what we want to bring to the community.”

Decorating Instruments Made from Recycled Cans


The primary mission of the Traveling Teacher Show is to teach children that they can make a big difference in helping to save the Earth. At every show, they see their efforts paying off. “We love to hear children talking or singing about what we are presenting.” Miss Melissa says. “Our greatest moments are when children share with us about what they have done to help save the planet. They are so proud when telling us! Nothing compares to a five year old telling you they told their parents to save electricity and turn off the lights! And it is great when we hear parents telling us that they learned something, too. So often we hear from families how they have changed something in their lives to become more eco-friendly. We get very excited knowing they took that away from our performance! The small steps grow outwards. For instance, a child starts recycling at home, and then decides to tell her teacher to recycle in their class. Then that teacher creates a school-wide recycling effort. Then that school realizes that there are ways to volunteer to help their community become more eco-friendly. Then the community becomes aware of what eco-friendly means to them. That is the big picture, and it all can start with one child!”


Since its inception in 2008, The Traveling Teacher Show has performed throughout North Carolina, Virginia and Georgia for all age groups. “We travel all over and don’t limit ourselves,” explains Miss Stefanie. “We have performed in schools, libraries, parks, museums, eco-friendly stores, farmers’ markets, local, state and national parks, restaurants, birthday parties, festivals, malls and more! In addition, we also do pro-bono work, donating our time and treasure by performing for many charitable and fundraising functions and events. We absolutely love it! It is a compliment when we are asked back to venues. We are always excited to perform at North Hills Mall in Raleigh, and at University Mall in Chapel Hill. We also have come to know many local community organizations that have asked us back for yearly festivals. In addition, we are privileged to perform yearly at Fort Stewart in Georgia for military families.”

Miss Melissa adds, “The eco-friendly theme seems to lend itself so well everywhere! Many people have asked us to write a performance based on a need they have. For example, several park rangers have approached us over the years asking us to write performances for festivals at their parks. We have written shows on frogs, trees, birds, and water, just to name a few. Our other ideas are just endless! Incorporating eco-friendly crafts has allowed us to bring any theme full circle.”


The Traveling Teacher Show regularly performs a free show at University Mall in Chapel Hill, N.C. every Tuesday and Thursday from 10:30 am – 11:30 am. This program for 2-5 year olds began in the spring of 2011, and it is sponsored by University Mall Kid’s Club. Miss Stefanie explains how they got started doing their show at U. Mall. “We originally ran a Scrapel Hill program in which children watched a performance on reusing materials to create art. We then led the children on a tour of the art in the Mall, and then led an art activity in which the children created their own piece based on a piece in the Mall. It was very successful and we were then asked to start a children’s program to draw families from the community into the Mall. Our first performance was for two children, and has grown incredibly! Some of our performances are now attended by 100 children, not including their parents or guardians! We love the families at University Mall, and have developed so many meaningful relationships with them. We have the privilege of getting to know the children and parents, and we can’t express how exciting it is to see them returning each week!” Miss Melissa adds, “We have been wonderfully welcomed by Chapel Hill and we find the Chapel Hill community really embraces our message. Chapel Hill is our biggest fan base, as we get to perform there weekly. We love to see everyone engaged and are grateful to so many families who bring us their recycled items to use in our shows. We have been able to make incredible art with these reusable donations!”

They also perform for free at North Hills Mall in Raleigh, N.C. frequently. Their entire performance schedule can be found on their web site.

Additionally, the Traveling Teacher Show has developed several programs they offer the community, including:

  • Go Green Assembly: Full day (3-4 presentations): Some schools schedule a full day and have as many as 4 presentations which allows the program content to be customized and age appropriate. They recommend grouping students by grade level. For instance, K – 2 and 3 – 5. Half day (1-2 presentations).
  • Go Green In-Class Presentations: An In-Class Presentation that takes place right inside your classroom and gives each student the opportunity to learn one-on-one with their fun characters! Presentation includes one character performance, learning time with character, puppet interaction and all materials needed for craft. The duration of the program is 60 – 75 minutes.
  • Go Green Programs for the Community: These programs are especially great for Libraries, Museums and Festivals.
  • Go Green Programs for Preschools: Preschool programs are age appropriate and work best inside your classroom. This gives children the opportunity to learn one-on-one with their fun characters! Pricing includes one character performance, learning time with character, puppet interaction and all materials needed for craft. The duration of the field trip is 45 – 60 minutes. Recommended for children age 4 and up.
  • Go Green Workshops: Perfect for earth friendly stores and after-school programs. The workshops include all materials for craft. This is done on a pre-registration basis with a maximum of 20 children and a minimum of 12.


As the Traveling Teacher Show develops and grows, Miss Stefanie and Miss Melissa would love to see it expand further. “We would love to have our own space that would allow the community to come to us. If we had our own space, we could hold all kinds of performances and workshops for children and adults. We also want to create an online curriculum that includes video that teachers all over the country can access to use in their classroom. Having our own television show and creating DVD’s of the shows is another goal, and those projects are currently in the works. We would also really like to develop a volunteer program for teenagers who share our same passion. We are always on the lookout for connections that would help us achieve these dreams!”

Making Bubbles from Homemade Bubble Solution & Bubble Makers


I have personally attended numerous performances by these wonderful Traveling Teachers with my three year-old daughter at University Mall in Chapel Hill, N.C. It is a free show, every Tuesday and Thursday at 10:30 am, and it is her favorite morning activity. She participates more at these shows than at any other local toddler-friendly venue. As a previous elementary school teacher myself, I am perpetually in awe of what these two teachers can accomplish in an hour, and how successfully they do it.

For this program, Miss Stefanie and Miss Melissa are able to actively engage up to 100 toddlers from the minute they start the show. They have those children completely mesmerized, watching their every move, and laughing, singing and dancing the entire time. It’s truly magical to watch. Miraculously, especially for the young population they are working with there, I have yet to see one tear shed nor witness any disagreements among the tots. The energy and confidence that the teachers radiate creates a safe and joyous environment for all participants, kids and parents alike. They are truly veteran teachers, experienced in performing in front of large audiences of children, and nothing fazes them or throws them off track. During one performance, I noticed that the craft tables and chairs were missing from the room. I thought maybe they were going to set up the craft outside by the Mall entrance, as they sometimes do. At the end of the performance, they informed us that the tables and chairs were mistakenly not provided to them that day, so the craft was going to be done on the floor instead. They didn’t miss a beat, and everyone had a great time sprawled out on the floor, making animal puppets out of recycled paper lunch bags. Miss Stefanie and Miss Melissa always seem relaxed, prepared for anything that might arise, and they just roll with it.

What amazes me the most is how each transition between the well-balanced active participating time, quiet listening time, and creative craft time flows seamlessly, without a single break in the action. And there is so much action! Much more than I ever dared to try in my own classroom setting. One show in particular comes to mind. It was last December, and the Traveling Teachers were doing skits about winter. Then they started placing large cardboard boxes all over the room. Because it was cold outside, there were more children in attendance than usual — and it is usually packed. Not having enough boxes to go around, they said, “We are going to share these sleds! One child gets to ride inside the sled while the other child gets to push! Then we will switch places, and the rider will get to push, and the pusher will get to ride!” “Wait a minute,” I thought. “Toddlers sharing boxes and pushing each other around? How was this going to work?” My instincts as a parent of a toddler and as a teacher kicked in and prepared me for the chaos that was about to ensue. But there was no chaos! Like magic, half of the toddlers got into the boxes and half of them started pushing the ones in boxes. After a few minutes, they all switched places! There was no fussing or issue of any kind. It was simply amazing to witness and everyone had a great time. Miss Melissa and Miss Stefanie never lower their expectations about what their young audience is capable of doing. This is hands-on learning at its best, where children are actively involved, included, respected and encouraged throughout the performance.

Each Traveling Teacher Show that Miss Stefanie and Miss Melissa develop is completely different from the one before it. Show themes are often about animals, nature or follow the seasonal calendar. During the show, all sorts of characters make special appearances, (played by Miss Melissa and Miss Stefanie themselves), including: Granny G who teaches children how to shop green, Coach G who teaches how to reduce, reuse and recycle, Captain G who tells children how to spread the word about going green, Fridgey who teaches children simple eco-friendly things they can do at home, and Org Anic who is a compost-making puppet (who is great at good-bye hugs, too!) Their skits are both hilarious and informative, truly creating the “eco-tainment and eco-cation” they strive to achieve at every show. At the end of each show, there is always a craft that compliments the theme of the show using recycled materials and common household objects. My daughter has brought home a kite made from a plastic grocery bag and yarn, a paper cup with a bean planted in it, an aquarium made from a plastic bottle with a plastic bag fish swimming in it, and an instrument made from a box of tissue and a few rubber bands, just to name a few. All the craft activities are clearly demonstrated beforehand, and Miss Melissa and Miss Stefanie are available to help where needed.

Although the themes differ each time, there are a few things that remain constant from show to show: Miss Stefanie and Miss Melissa’s signature green tie-dyed t-shirts, green baseball caps, bright green Chuck Taylor tennis shoes, the piles of recycled materials they use for their craft projects, and the huge smiles found on their faces and the faces of both the children and the care-givers in the audience. Obviously, this work is their true calling in life, and Miss Stefanie and Miss Melissa devote every second towards making the experience as fun and as educational as possible. Definitely try to catch one of their shows, and don’t forget to give Org a good-bye hug before you leave!

The Puppet Org Anic Gets a Big Good-bye Hug


Here are some ways you can support this wonderful organization. They currently fund their business entirely with their own money, and they would more than welcome sponsors or be able to partner with like-mined individuals. Please email them at: if you would like to become involved and contribute to their cause.


A free, fun and easy way to help the Traveling Teachers is to attend a show and bring them your recyclables. Every show has a craft component to it, and all the materials used in the craft are recycled. They would love to use your reuseable items for their upcoming summer crafts. “Many of our recycled materials come from our own homes. It is truly amazing how much two families can save! We have also found many local businesses that give us fantastic recycled items that we gratefully reuse. The Virginia Gail Collection, located in University Mall in Chapel Hill, has a bin that they fill for us on a regular basis. They have supplied us with loads of fabric, paper, paint samples, tile samples and more! It is amazing what many local businesses have to give that would otherwise have been thrown away. We are constantly on the lookout for those that have reusable items. Our garages are stacked full!” says Miss Melissa.

If you would like to bring them your recyclables, they have created Org’s Wish List, which includes a list of recycled items they can use. They do use everything, so if you have items you think can be used that are not on this list, they would love to have them, too! Please make sure containers are washed and dried.

  • Egg cartons
  • Magazines
  • Paper towel rolls
  • Toilet paper rolls
  • Brown paper bags
  • Juice and milk containers
  • Plastic containers
  • Oatmeal containers
  • Baby food jars
  • Plastic water bottles
  • Cans that do not have sharp edges
  • Yogurt containers
  • Bottle caps
  • Scrap craft paper
  • Fabric scraps
  • Yarn
  • Ribbon
  • Any type of small box (shoe, cereal)
  • Bubble wrap
  • Wrapping paper
  • Old greeting cards

For more information about The Traveling Teacher Show, please visit their web site:

Category: Arts & Entertainment

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