Teacher’s musical to be presented in Miami
Local educators and community members have been invited to Miami to present a musical, titled “Habits of Mind.” The musical, which is based on the “Habits of Mind” series by Dr. Arthur Costa and Dr. Bena Kallick, will be presented at the 2018 International Conference on Thinking this week at Florida International University.
The musical about critical and creative thinking is a joint effort between Florence School District One and Francis Marion University.
Melanie McMillan, a teacher in Florence One’s gifted and talented program, is the author, scriptwriter, director and songwriter of the “Habits of Mind” musical. Faith Hardison, Florence One Digital Learning Specialist; and her brother Jerry ‘Midas’ Hardison, a Charlotte musician; along with Jonathan Kueling, keyboardist; also co-wrote songs for the musical. Alonzo Davis of Williams Middle School is co-director.
McMillan provided evolution of this week’s performance in Miami. “Seven years ago, several teachers attended “Habits of Mind” training conducted by training associate Dr. Michele De Bellis. Inspired by the training, Faith Hardison and I and wrote three songs about the Habits of Mind for our North Vista and REACH students, and the students responded well to the songs,” said McMillan.
According to McMillan, she and Hardison shared a storyboard created by artist Robert Gary, with Dr. De Bellis. McMillan further explained that Dr. De Bellis then introduced her and Hardison to “Habits of Mind” authors, Drs. Arthur L. Costa and Bena Kallick, creators of the series, who were receptive to the idea of a musical.
McMillan said after her connection with creators of the series, she completed a script and 16 songs based on the Habits of Mind series.
McMillan continued to explain that her college friend, Giselle Woods, offered to direct the first musical which was produced at Harbison Theatre in Columbia, November 2013. “Dr. Arthur Costa and Michele de Bellis attended our first show, along with 200 Florence One fourth graders, a group of South Florence students, and Midlands Technical College students,” said McMillan. “Later, I sang the songs in Bilbao, Spain, accompanied by guitarist/music teacher Allen Johnson at the International Conference on Thinking in 2015 where Dr. Costa was a keynote.
” “We are truly grateful for the support of this project by our local educational leaders,” said McMillan. Without their support, taking our musical presentation to the ICOT would not be possible.” Francis Marion University (FMU) President Dr. Fred Carter agreed to support McMillan in the production of a musical, and FMU’s Dr. Terry Roberts showed interest in the production while Florence One supported the staff members’ efforts to take the ceremony on the road.
“That’s when the cast and musicians began rehearsal, and the rest is history,” added McMillan. “We will perform at the opening ceremonies at the International Conference on Thinking in Miami on May 16, and we look forward to other opportunities that will be made available to present this program to the greater Florence community.”
Cast members from Florence One include: Megerlyn Davis, Wilson High; Nikki Frabott, West Florence High; Frankie Sullivan, Southside Middle; Alonzo Davis, Williams Middle; student Houston Taylor, Wilson High School; and Florence One Performing Arts Coordinator Laura Greenway.
Francis Marion University performers for the musical are Dr. Fran Coleman, Dr. Terry Roberts, and Dr. Shane Reeves. Ray Taylor and Joseph Webster complete members of the performing cast.
This collaboration is funded through contributions by Francis Marion University, District Ones Musically Exceptional (DOME) and other private donors.
A local performance will be provided for students in Florence School District One at Florence One’s music camp and during the fall of next school year for students in the district’s music program.
“The Habits of Mind, the habits of success, have changed my life as I use them to be more creative, to be more collaborative, to be more understanding,” said McMillan. “I am excited to present the musical in Miami with this group, and I am excited about the possibilities of developing the show for others to perform,” she added.