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Everyone Has a Story to Tell

George Pettigrew

January 1, 2019

Are you ready to tell yours? In 2017, Mid-Continent Public Library’s Story Center partnered with Metropolitan Community College to offer a rigorous set of free workshops called the Storytelling Certification Program designed to take participants from the first spark of inspiration to a fully realized story. 

Now, anyone at any point in their story journey has the opportunity to expand their skills as a writer or performer through this program. December 8, 2018, marked our first-ever graduation ceremony, which honored those that completed all of their required content. I am extremely proud of their accomplishments, and I’m excited to see what future stories they tell!

After the ceremony, I sat down for coffee with one of the graduates, George Pettigrew, to get his thoughts on this process:

Melissa: How did you find out about The Storytelling Certification?

George: I’m a member of the Buffalo Soldiers group, and we present through Mid-Continent Public Library. After a presentation, I picked up a Beyond the Books booklet and was flipping through when I found the Certification program for Oral Storytellers. I hoped that by going through the program, I could do those presentations better, learn more, and reach people in a different way.

Melissa: What was your experience like in the Certification workshops?

George: I’ve been really impressed with the roster of presenters and the expertise they bring. They aren’t just lecturers; they live it and are able to convey that experience. I’ve also enjoyed being part of a larger community of storytellers. I get to see the growth of others and build that community. We encourage and push each other to tell a better story. I look forward to encouraging them as long as they are telling stories and seeing where they go from here. 

Melissa: What will you do with your new-found knowledge?

George: To me, telling a story is like cooking. You get the recipe (story elements), and then you have to figure out the technique, order, and processes that will create the product that you and your family can enjoy. It only gets better with practice, and then you can freestyle a recipe and make something uniquely yours. Because of my participation in The Storytelling Certification, I now have confidence in how to organize the story, how to edit, and how to combine the ingredients for the best impact. 

Melissa: What advice would you give people that are interested in the Storytelling Certificate?

George: Do it! There isn’t a reason why not. You can form lives with your stories, improve understanding. You’ll find a community that will help, uplift, and support you on the way. Come through these doors, and you’ll come out better. I can’t see anything else in our community that can give more and ask less. The gift we get from the program is the gift we’ll give to our families, our community, and our history. I am a firm believer that the quality of the Certificate and the quality of the people that have gone through the process will have a ripple effect and lead to the betterment of stories in Kansas City. 

To get started on your own Certificate journey or for more information, visit I hope to see you in a Certification workshop soon!

Melissa S. 
The Story Center at Mid-Continent Public Library 


Not only was the certification program developmentally enriching but it also gave me an entire supportive community. Following the completion of my learning experience I was accepted as a storyteller for the 2019-2020 Missouri Humanities Council Speakers' Bureau! Truly I doubt that I would have had the confidence to apply without the experience gained in the Oral Storyteller Certification program. I thank you all in every way.

From George Pettigrew (not verified)
Tue, 02/05/2019 - 01:20pm

Thank you, George, for your comment! We are very proud of your accomplishments and we wish you all the best in your storytelling endeavors!

From Melissa Stan (not verified)
Wed, 02/06/2019 - 11:23am

As I said earlier, George, I think you will do well with this endeavor. You have the enthusiasm, the attitude, and the resources to make your stories interesting. Good luck andkeep in touch. Nancy Cramer

From nancy cramer (not verified)
Sat, 02/09/2019 - 09:09pm

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