Above: Photographer Jeffery Noble lines up a shot at the Peoria PlayHouse Children’s Museum, July 7, 2021. Photo courtesy of Mike Murphy
In this age of willful disinformation, “deep fakes” and other trends that jumble our shared reality, there is nothing more important than critical thinking skills—and that can only be achieved through education.
The past year of Covid has spurred a sea change in childhood education, with parents and schools turning on a dime to meet the needs of the moment. As the Peoria PlayHouse Children’s Museum revamped its programming to reach children at home, it was also planning new ways to address the second pandemic of racism in the wake of the murder of George Floyd. This issue’s cover story spotlights how the PlayHouse is making diversity central to its work in our community.
Mike Murphy is a married father of four who has centered his prolific volunteer commitments around education. He is an active member of the Kellar PTO, president of the Look. It’s My Book! nonprofit, volunteer with the Peoria Public Schools Foundation, and recently elected member of the PPS Board of Education. He is also a PlayHouse member and volunteer.
“During the pandemic, I learned to get creative with keeping educational activities in front of my children,” Murphy explains. “The PlayHouse offered fun and interactive virtual activities during the long days at home. Once restrictions started to lift, they were already thinking of safe ways to get a limited number of kids back to in-person playtime.”
Having reopened its doors to the public at the end of May, the PlayHouse continues to place safety top of mind. While our photo shoot featured children without masks, PlayHouse Director Rebecca Shulman wanted to emphasize they are still requiring masks at this time. As it continues to wrestle with pandemic-driven uncertainty, the PlayHouse is doing its part to teach children through play.
“The Playhouse has been a great place to adapt to these changing times and focus on getting kids back to explore and learn—in a safe way,” Murphy adds. “Keeping those educational experiences available for our kids will keep their creative minds flowing.” PS —Jonathan Wright, Editor in Chief