HERMITAGE — People all over Mercer County know her as the “Lady of the Tale.”
Victoria Rivetti Lingner has been telling stories for over 20 years in nursing homes, elementary schools and as an in-house storyteller for Buhl Park.
“I want kids to love reading as much as I do,” Lingner said. “I think I instill that when I walk into the classroom. Even if I’m just reading a book, I don’t read it, I stage it.
Lingner is a guest of honor at Buhl Day 2022. She joins retired Shenango Valley Urban League CEO Michael Wright and state Rep. Mark Longietti, D-7, Hermitage, as this year’s honorees. .
Working as an in-house storyteller for the McKeever Environmental Center in the early 2000s set her on the path to becoming the “lady of storytelling.”
She enjoys instilling a love and passion for reading.
“You go through wonderful things, you go through painful things,” Lingner said. “But it’s a human experience that awakens your soul.”
The best part about volunteering with kids is that they cheer before it starts.
“They know I’m coming and I love them,” Lingner said. “It’s a mutual admiration with the children and me.”
Lingner tells the children that storytellers don’t memorize their stories word for word, but memorize them by heart.
“Children will say, ‘Isn’t that the same thing? ‘” Lingner said. “And I said no. You love the story and you want to express the love you have for the story, then you have to do it from your heart.
Lingner lives in Brookfield, Ohio, with Richard Lingner, her husband of 49 years.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in secondary education and English from Edinboro State College and completing graduate studies at Slippery Rock College, Youngstown State University and Penn State Shenango, she worked as an English and English teacher. creative writing at Mercer for three years.
Lingner then worked at the Sharon City School District as a teacher and curriculum specialist for the gifted program for 27 years.
Shortly after retiring, she began volunteering with storytelling sessions.
She began telling stories at the Bentley House, Juniper Village, Shenango-On-The-Green, and Nugent Convalescent Home.
But his narrative quickly expanded beyond assisted living facilities. She has told stories at several schools including Sharon, Sharpsville Elementary, Farrell Elementary, Brookfield Elementary, New Wilmington Elementary, Neshannock Elementary, New Wilmington Elementary, Jamestown Elementary, and St. John Paul II Catholic School.
Lingner serves on the Buhl Day Committee, chairs Children’s Theatre, and serves on the board of the Sharon High School Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame.
During the pandemic, Lingner logged 14 online readings on Facebook. She read about Earth Day, Winter Solstice, Christmas, Russian Orthodoxy, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Black History Month.
While teaching Sharon, she received the Outstanding Secondary Educator of America award in 1974 and she was voted by students to win the Elizabeth McMullen and Anna Grace Smith Teacher Appreciation Award in 1994.
“(Students) remember if you’re a special education teacher,” Lingner said. “You are only special because you respect them as people.”