"I absolutely loved this program," said Janel Riley, Exeter Elementary School principal, who secured two grants to support costs associated with hosting the special program. "Any time you are able to bring something to these kids that they have never experienced it is a great thing.
"Later, when they read about Russia in history classes, they will have an experience under their belts to support those lessons," said Riley. "Background experience makes all the difference in the world. I hope these kids go away with excitement about learning something new."
Sergei Shapoval, a touring artist with the Missouri Arts Council, offered students, parents and community members a glimpse of Russian culture during performances that were held Thursday morning and evening. The performances included a full-color slide presentation, a short video and demonstrations of Russian folk music and dance.
Shapoval presented more indepth information on individual art objects and household Russian items during small group workshops held with summer school students on Thursday afternoon.
"I strongly believe that multicultural education is an essential part of the modern education," said Shapoval. "Learning about other cultures will help make these students good citizens of this country and the world who will know how to be responsible for other cultures when they grow up."
Shapoval, who was born in Krivoi Rog, Ukraine, has a master's degree in music education from the Gnessin Pedagogical Institute in Moscow. While completing his education, he was a student of Yuri Sidorov, a renowned bayanist.
Shapoval won third place in the entertainment division of the Accordion Teachers' Guild International Competition in 1990.
"In 1991, I came to the United States to participate in the International Accordion Competition at the University of Missouri in Kansas City," said Shapoval.
Around that time, Shapoval received an opportunity to perform in the United States with art councils in Missouri, North Dakota and Arkansas.
The Cultural Kaleidoscope visits around 200 schools each year. In addition to Shapoval's Russian culture program, the organization offers Australian and Irish culture programs.
Riley secured a $1,000 Rural Initiative-Community Programs grant from the Missouri Association of Community Arts Agencies (MACAA) to support The Cultural Kaleidoscope program.
"When I heard that we received the grant, I found out that no other school in the area has every asked for funds to bring in this type of program," said Riley.
The school district received a grant through Practice in Parenting Partnerships last spring, which also supported the cultural program.
"This grant is designed to fund programs for parents to enjoy with their kids," said Riley. "Part of the grant paid for training and some of the funds paid for an open house that we hosted this year. We will host another open house event next year."
Riley would also like to see the school district host The Cultural Kaleidoscope's Ireland program sometime during the 2008-09 school year.