"I am an Appalachian storyteller and tell stories that are authentic representations of the tradition in which I live." - Octavia Sexton

Personal Background

I am a native of eastern Kentucky, and know life within Appalachia well.  I attended a one-room school through eighth grade - then was given the choice to continue school or get married. I went on to high school! Five months after graduating high school I was married, pregnant and working for minimum wage in a factory.  My husband drove 145 miles round trip to work in construction for low pay and no benefits.  We lived in a two-room house, hauled water from a spring and used an outhouse. We struggled in poverty.  It is like a great black hole that keeps sucking you in deeper - almost impossible to get out.   Hoping to break the grip of poverty for my family, I went to college full time.  We were so poor, the government gave me money to go to school!  I received a B.A. in history education and English from Berea College.  While in college the professors discovered I was a folk artist of the spoken word.  I did not know storytelling was an art until then.  I grew up with stories that had been passed to me through the generations.  Now I am a full time storyteller/educator.  I do storytelling performances, workshops, and use storytelling in educational residencies that includes historical writing, drama, environmental awareness, social change and more.

 

Hello!  I’m a storyteller and teaching artist.   I help k-12 teachers learn how to use storytelling to teach across the curriculum.  I help people learn how to unleash the storyteller within.  I help  at risk youth, women of abuse and individuals dealing with substance abuse learn how to change their stories to one of success.  I present an historical portrayal of Jenny Wiley, a female pioneer - AND I share my tradition of Storytelling everywhere I go!   My programs are high energy, entertaining, and educational - but never boring! 

Accomplishments

About the Artist

Appalachian Storyteller, Educator, Literary Artist, Performer, Workshop Presenter

  • Bachelor of Arts in Education
  • Master of Arts in Health Education Administration
  • Member of the Kentucky Association of Storytellers, National Storytelling Network, Ohio Order for the Preservation of Storytelling
  • Showcase Artist for the KY Center for the Arts
  • Kentucky Arts Council Education Roster Artist
  • Kentucky Arts Council Performing Arts Directory Artist
  • Kentucky State Parks Performing Artist
  • Berea Festival of Learnshops Teaching Artist
  • Promise Neighborhoods teaching artist integrating the arts with science, math, technology, writing, and practical living/career awareness
  • Alternate  ROOTS artist
  • Featured teller for several festivals including:  Alabama Storytelling Festival, OOPS (Ohio) Storytelling Festival, Southern Ohio Storytelling Festival, Corn Island Storytelling Festival, Pigeon Forge (Tennessee) Storytelling Festival, Kenton County (Kentucky) Storytelling Festival
  • Recording artist of several storytelling CD’s
  • Author of Kentucky Kid’s Jack Tales
  • National Storytelling Network Kentucky State Showcase Artist 2008 and 2011
  • Board member Kentucky Storytelling Association
  • Owner of SpoonWood Productions, an educational performing arts company