Puppeteer will bring poems, music and her imagination to Sandymount


Shirley Johannesen Levine will bring her show, "Puppets and Poems: Colorful Characters Come Alive," to Sandymount Elementary School on Thursday.

Ms. Levine and her Puppet-Dance Productions shows incorporate music, mime and make-believe to bring puppets of all sorts and sizes to life.

The Columbia-based performer and educational consultant will perform at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

"I have been able to adapt the skills I have to literature," she says.

"I feel that I have been able to take the puppets and make them fit with my earlier love of literature. I feel that I am passing that love onto the children through my shows."

Ms. Levine, who recently returned from a year of performances in Australia, England and France, will enlighten younger students with snappy word plays, nursery rhymes and poetry.

"There will be more music, more movement and marionettes for the younger children," said Ms. Levine, who features a puppet show of mice and sports a 7-foot dragon puppet.

Older students will see another version of her show, which will include poems by Langston Hughes and Lewis Carroll, and a poem about Harriet Tubman.

"I bring out a completely different set of puppets for the older children," Ms. Levine said.

"Some students will even have an opportunity to get inside life-like-sized puppets similar to those used on Sesame Street."

A puppeteer since 1969, Ms. Levine has been taking her shows to students for 15 years.

Her career as a puppeteer has garnered recognition from arts programs, school systems and philanthropic organizations throughout the United States and abroad.

To assist in her efforts to bring her art into the school system, Ms. Levine's program has been partially financed in the Maryland and Washington areas by the Artists-in-Education Program of the Maryland State Arts Council, the Howard County Arts Council, ++ the Montgomery County Arts Council's Outreach Program, the Anne Arundel County Commission on Culture and the Arts, the Talbot Academy of the Arts and the Maryland Very Special Arts Program.


Before I moved to Carroll County nearly seven years ago, I had heard tales of the natives here and their friendly and helpful nature, and I've since witnessed and been involved in countless experiences that have proven this statement to be true.

I've noticed that good acts are becoming more and more frequent.

Not a day has gone by that I haven't seen someone lending a helping hand to a neighbor or a needy person on the street.

Maybe it's the weather, or maybe it's just changing times.

Surely, we have had our fill of Old Man Winter. I know I have.

Snow, freezing rain and below-average temperatures have supplied the proper ingredients to create some of the nastiest weather ever.

Yet, while temperatures were decreasing, human kindness was increasing.

This tiresome weather has brought many nameless heroes to mind, people who saw others in need and unselfishly offered their help.

Here are few who stick out in my mind:

I recall a well-dressed businessman who went to the aid of a mother and her two children in the parking lot of a fast-food restaurant in Westminster. It was a frigid January evening and the mother was unable to get her car started.

He, too, was unable to get her car's engine running, but he helped her move the vehicle out of the parking lot. Then he made sure she and her children were able to get home.

On another day, I saw two men walking down Main Street in Westminster stop to help an older woman cross a slick sidewalk to her car. It impressed me that they took the time to help her and her packages reach their destination safely.

There were countless other individuals who, day in and day out, unselfishly helped people survive the snow and ice of the past several weeks by volunteering to pick up groceries and prescriptions, shovel sidewalks and give rides and jump-starts to people in need.

One of those people I can identify is my neighbor, Skip Kreiner of Finksburg.

Perched on his 16-horsepower tractor equipped with a plow, Mr. Kreiner single-handedly kept our common road and driveway clear and passable.

With freezing rain dropping on existing ice, the task at times was formidable. But through every storm, he made his way up and down the road so the rest of us could go about our daily routines.

So, here's to Mr. Kreiner and all the other unsung heroes who have made this harsher-than-usual winter more bearable for the rest of us.

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