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Arts & Culture

Ex Fabula: December Spectacular

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Art Montes
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Mia Noel sharing a story.

On December 17th, Ex Fabula will return to the historic Turner Hall Ballroom for the fifth annual Ex Fabula December Spectacular. Unlike our monthly StorySlams, the Spectacular is a non-competitive program of true and personal stories featuring Ex Fabula Fellows as well as other storytellers selected by a jury of Ex Fabula volunteers.

As we look forward to next week’s big event, we’re also looking back on past Spectaculars. This story comes from last year’s December Spectacular. Mia Noel was 28 when she decided to go on that journey that we all dream of –the quest for the career that fueled her passion as much as it filled her bank account.

However, while searching for the dream job, she needed something else to pay the bills. Noel stumbled upon substitute teaching and surprisingly, with no degree and no certification or training, she was hired as a substitute teacher. Her first assignment was in a 6th grade class at a school on Milwaukee’s northwest side. As you or I probably did when we had a sub in the 6th grade, these 11-year-olds had a field day with poor Miss Noel. Her positive attitude and kind demeanor was no match for these pre-teen pranksters.

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Web exclusive story by Lisa Gatewood.
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Credit Kat Schleicher
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Kat Schleicher
Lisa Gatewood up on stage.

Our web exclusive story comes from our very first Spectacular in December 2010. Lisa Gatewood grew up in Whitefish Bay, or WFB, but not the area with the big houses on the lake. Lisa lived in the less affluent part of the village, just over the border enough to qualify for the WFB school district.

As a second grader, she began to notice the more affluent kids whispering that she lived in “ghetto WFB.” While Lisa longed to fit in with the popular “Jordan” and her soccer playing, gymnastic rolling, rich friends, Lisa knew she needed a way in. Then it came. The Brownies sign up sheet. The things Lisa learned during that tender second grade year helped shape the woman she has grown to become today.

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