from sea to shining sea

My True Voice in Action

In Pittsburgh, theater students volunteer to teach youngsters how to enunciate like actors. Here is an example of "before" and "after" sessions, along with candid photos.

Aaron Blackwell,
a fifth grader at Holy
Rosary School reads poetry by Langston Hughes and Jack London.



Learn More about
Langston Hughes.

natalie baker-shirer and dysa video crew

Natalie Baker-Shrirer 
shows the program to
the DYSA crew.

Children participating in My True Voice at Holy Rosary School in Pittsburgh, PA

                   students and mentors adjusting spotlights

                   students and mentors practicing reading poetry

                   students receiving advice from a mentor

                   students watch as final preparations for reading are completed

Photographs by Dean Baker

Golden Voice Software

Natalie Baker-Shirer was awarded the William H. and Frances B. Ryan Award for Meritorious Teaching in May 2001. At Carnegie Mellon, Ms. Baker Shirer teaches speech and phonetics as applied to Standard American English dialect. She has produced an instructional CD: Distinct, Efficient and Pleasing: A Practice CD of the Non-Regional Dialect of American English and an accompanying phonetics workbook for this course. Her other courses include Accents and Dialects for the Theatre, Voiceover (Broadcast) Acting and two community-based outreach courses: Speech and Phonetics Instruction and Outreach and Growing Theatre. Ms. Baker Shirer received a BFA in Drama from Carnegie Mellon, where she studied speech and phonetics extensively with Edith W. Skinner, and an MFA in Theatre Pedagogy from the University of Pittsburgh. Her acting career includes Broadway, theatres across USA and Canada, Mister Rogers Neighborhood, voiceovers including Emmy Award for narrating PBS' What Doctors See. With a passionate interest in outreach for the School of Drama, Baker-Shirer has developed a community based outreach course The My True Voice Project in partnership with the Extra Mile Education Foundation She and her students handle three schools. The My True Voice Project combines the teaching of pronunciation with an exploration of poetry and the use of voice synthesis software.

Aaron Blackwell, was a fifth grader at Holy Rosary School in Pittsburgh, PA at the time of these recordings. He enjoys science and technology.

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Sponsored by:

National Endowment for the Humanities Hewlett Foundation Ford Foundation   Arthur Vining Davis Foundations Carnegie Corporation

National Endowment
for the Humanities

William and Flora Hewlett


Rosalind P.

Arthur Vining
Davis Foundations

Corporation of New York