Teaching Roster

Carol Ponder

Contact Name: Carol Ponder


4924 Barclay Square Drive
Antioch, Tennessee 37013
United States
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Phone: (615) 227-3876

Artistic Disciplines:
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Carol Ponder, a multiple award-winning performing and teaching artist, has worked for over 40 years as a professional actress, singer, recording artist, and musician. As a Teaching Artist and consultant, Carol has 28 years of intensive experience partnering with classroom teachers to develop and carry out arts integration projects and in providing professional development for teachers and administrators. Carol’s dozens of professional development clients include: TPAC Education (since 1987); Big Thought in Dallas, TX; the Empire State Partnerships Project, NY; the North Carolina Blumenthal Performing Arts Center; Cleveland Young Audiences; the Common Ground Conference in Albany, NY; VSA arts International and Tennessee; The Montalvo Arts Center, CA; and the Annual Partnerships Conference at the Kennedy Center. She is a published author in the field.

Although always in demand to provide a range of professional development opportunities, as well as K-12 and college residencies, Carol’s main focus as a mature artist and educator is the project, My Father’s War. She and her husband and partner, Robert Kiefer, adapted this two-person performance from a primary historical document – her father’s WWII memoir. It honors the best in traditional storytelling and music from her native Southern Appalachian Mountains. Simply staged, (two stools, two music stands, and a guitar), My Father’s War plays beautifully in any venue – from classrooms to arts centers to full-size theaters. Audiences frequently describe their experience of this powerful storytelling as “cinematic.” Young people say things like, “I saw the whole thing in my head!” and “I felt like I was in the airplane with Lt. Ponder.”

They have performed Lt. Herschel Ponder’s story almost 100 times in seven states, frequently with creative writing and performing workshops. They also provide performances and workshops free to veterans in VA facilities and other organizations that serve veterans. My Father’s War was recently accepted into two directories with Americans for the Arts: The National Initiative for Arts and Health in the Military and Animating Democracy.

The mission of My Father’s War is: Through performances of the highest artistic quality, post-show discussions, and creative workshops, to honor and serve our veterans and to help our communities process the social and cultural effects of war with integrity, in an honest and responsible manner.

For more information about all Carol’s endeavors in arts and education, please go to www.carolandrobert.com.

Sample Programs Offered

Program Title: My Father’s War

Program Type: Arts Appreciation

Program Description:

My Father’s War is the first-person story of a young man’s journey through innocence, conflict, survival and grace. My husband and I adapted the two-person performance from a primary historical document – my father’s WWII memoir as a fighter pilot in Europe. Every word spoken by Robert is taken verbatim from Lt. Herschel Ponder’s memoir.  I enrich the story with narration, songs, and underscoring.  Middle and High School students have been enthralled by the performance and following discussion. The readers theater storytelling deeply engages their imaginations as they create their own cinematic experiences – a powerful contrast to today’s pervasive multi-media.

Lesson Plan Example: Download File

Program Title: My Father’s War – Art Inspires Art

Program Type: Arts Integration

Program Description:

Through a guided creative writing process of free-writing, selection, identifying central theme, distillation, shaping, and editing, students will explore their own, personal responses to My Father’s War, grounding the work in aspects of the play that resonate with their own experiences. They will create a work of art – poetry, slam poetry, song-writing, or storytelling and memoir (teacher’s choice). Through this creative response to a work of art, students will become more deeply and personally engaged with the human reality of history. Through exploration of expressive vocal and physical choices, students create powerful performances of their own words and share them.


Standards for Art Inspires Art


National Arts Standards, Theater: High School, Proficient

Anchor Standard 7: Perceive and analyze artistic work.

TH: Re7.1.I.a. Respond to what is seen, felt, and heard in a drama/theatre work to develop criteria for artistic choices.


Tennessee’s State English Language Arts Standards: Writing

  1. Write narratives [poems, etc.] to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.
  2. Use precise words and phrases, telling details, and sensory language to convey a vivid picture of the experiences, events, setting, and/or characters


Tennessee’s State English Language Arts Standards: Speaking

  1. Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.


Tennessee’s State United States History and Geography Standards

US.61 Identify the roles and sacrifices of individual American soldiers as well as the unique contributions of special fighting forces…[like the 510th Fighter Squadron, Lt. Herschel Ponder’s Squadron].


Note from Carol: Standards may be adjusted to address the grade level and teacher’s goals.

Lesson Plan Example: Download File

Program Title: Jump-Start Reading with Expression:

Program Type: Arts Integration

Program Description:

Reading fluency includes three aspects: accuracy, rate, and expression. The aspect many educators find hardest to teach and learners find most challenging is reading with expression. Basic elements of music – pitch, volume, tempo, pause or silence, stress, and textures and qualities of sound – offer participants vocal choices through which to read with appropriate expression, realistically demonstrating comprehension. Furthermore, readers who can hear the words or the mental “soundscape” they create, as well as visualize what is happening, experience an intrinsic motivation that impels them to read more often. (Text will be chosen by Teacher and Teaching Artist to ‘address teacher’s goals.)

Standards for Jump-Start Reading with Expression

Please Note: These Standards are for Grade 4; however, this workshop is appropriate for Grade 4 though the most senior of citizens – including professional actors! This workshop is most effective and leaves teachers with real tools with which to continue the process when there is a teacher workshop component, as well as classroom work.


Tennesse’s State Reading Standards for Foundational Skills: Fluency

  1. Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.
  2. Read grade-level text with purpose and understanding.
  3. Read grade-level prose and poetry orally with accuracy, appropriate rate, and expression on successive readings


Tennessee’s State Grade 4 Reading Standards for Literature

Key Ideas and Details

  1. Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.
  2. Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., a character’s thoughts, words, or actions).

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas

  1. Make connections between the text of a story or drama and a visual or oral presentation of the text, identifying where each version reflects specific descriptions and directions in the text.


National Arts Standard: Music, Grade 4

Analyze, Anchor Standard 4: Select, analyze, and interpret artistic work for presentation.

(MU:Pr4.2.4) a. Demonstrate understanding of the structure and the elements of music (such as rhythm , pitch , and form ) in music selected for performance.


Interpret, Anchor Standard 4: Select, analyze, and interpret artistic work for presentation.

(MU:Pr4.3.4) a. Demonstrate and explain how intent is conveyed through interpretive decisions and expressive qualities (such as dynamics, tempo, and timbre ).

Lesson Plan Example: Download File

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