Super WHY Live! is the live stage show inspired by the hit PBS Kids TV series. The tour is coming to a stage near you in 2012, but we’ve created some videos to show you what’s going on behind the scenes as we build the show. In this video, me and Super Why Live! director Glenn Orsher talk about what it’s like to transform an animated children’s favorite into a live action extravaganza.
And mind you, I am thrilled to be nominated! Really. It’s an honor.
That being said…. 😉
My shows have been nominated for Emmy awards since 1997 with Blue’s Clues for Outstanding Preschool Series and then again for Blue’s Room and then again for Super Why. Once Blue’s Clues and Super Why! were both nominated at the same time, in the same category…against Sesame Street. And guess who won for the 40th year in a row? And yes, I love Sesame but still…
So, here’s to 2012 giving us our 1st Emmy win! I owe so much to PBS Kids, our fabulous production teams, writing, animation, research and my mom to bring home the win…
But, I do know that it is not what is important. Teaching kids to read through media, teaching them kindergarten readiness skills and having them feel great about themselves is what is important.
I wouldn’t mind just once, hearing our name read from that freshly opened envelope. I’d take a slow walk up to that podium in a gown that makes me feel like a movie star for the night, determined to deliver my most heartfelt acceptance.
The following is from a talk that I gave this morning at Kidscreen Summit. The session was entitled Like a Boss: Honing Your Leadership Skills. I was honored that Donna Friedman Meir had asked me to be among such a smart group of panelists, which was made up of
- Kate Ebner
- Thomas Lynch
- Maggie McGuire
WHAT DOES LEADERSHIP MEAN TO YOU?
I believe that a leader is an eternal optimist. She has a vision, has audacity to see that vision through, and has contagious, passionate energy to empower the right people to help make the dream a reality.
My passion is to empower kids. I want them to know that they have a voice, and that what they say matters…even if it takes them longer to say it. I believe that if we pause, wait, listen attentively, preschoolers (kids in general) will talk. And what they have to say is brilliant. My vision is to create educational shows that kids want to watch. My approach has been to marry the very best preschool curriculum with the magic and influence of media.
I was that 4 yr old who couldn’t sit any closer to Mister Rogers when he was on…& talking to me. I grew up and wanted to make my own mark on children’s television because I did not like much of what was on for kids. Blue’s Clues was born out of the desire to have kids learn the skills they needed for kindergarten. I wanted them to practice those skills by using their voice and “interacting”. So, we left a 4 beat pause in.
Super Why is about motivating and teaching kids to read. By leaving the pause in, kids at home are practicing literacy skills by helping our super heroes with the power to read.
With the premiere of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood this Fall, I am bringing the pause back full circle, honoring the man who taught us about the power of the pause in television – Fred Rogers. And this time we use it for the most important skills of all…socio-emotional.
I started in the research department at Nickelodeon. And the day that I decided to leave to finish my Master’s Degree because I wanted to “create shows for preschoolers” was the day people called my “crazy”. I got lots of push back. But I saw my future. And I love to prove my neigh sayers wrong.
I remember being on set for the pilot of Blue’s Clues thinking to myself, “This had better work out because I’m never going back!” My father in law was the one who told me that only the best & biggest accomplishments come out of educated risks. I believe he was right.
THE BUMPS IN THE ROAD…
My biggest career obstacle was the day we found out that Blue’s Clues had ended its run. What? 10 years, just under 100 people who were like family working under one roof for this great show. This wasn’t just a job.
As much as I should have known that productions don’t stay around forever, I wasn’t prepared for this day. I took some meetings and my barometer was, “If I don’t feel like throwing up after the meeting, I would pursue it.”. It took a year.
I had pitched PBS’ Linda Simensky my “reading show”, which was Super Why, and the day she called to tell me that PBS wanted to make it, I literally sank to the floor. My identity was back!
Push through the negativity. Don’t follow the status quo. Don’t ask too many people what they “think”. Follow your gut, your passion, have chutzpah, make calls, meet people and follow through on opportunities to learn in the area that excites you even if you don’t know where its going to take you. Be open. Find an outlet to get your vision out in the world. And remember that it takes a village. So find the best and the brightest, be good to them, and have them join you in making your dream a reality.
On Feb 7th, I will be moderating the Channel Team Spotlight: PBS Kids session at 3pm. Coming off a 20% ratings hike last year, PBS Kids is all about transmedia in 2012. Listen in as the team talks strategy and explains why an integrated multi-platform approach to content is the new baseline for producers looking to land one onto the schedule. Also find out what is up next for the coveted Ready to Learn grant.
Come hear discussions about important issues & engage in critical dialogue that is integral to the business. Attendees from over 42 countries and 350+ kids broadcast buyers will be in the house.
[more info on Kidscreen Summit 2012]
One of the perks of my job is hearing about the effect that our shows have on their viewers. I received this email yesterday from a mom of a (soon to be) 2 year old. It’s comments like these that brighten up the day & put everything in perspective. Thanks for your note Lisa.
We love Super Why. My son, David, will be 2 on January 27th & is already beginning to read. He has known his alphabet since he was about 15 months old. He always sings it to the tune from Super Why as opposed to the traditional ABC song. I was very concerned about making sure the programs my son watched were educational. I turned to PBS as it was a favorite when I was growing up. I grew up on Sesame Street, Bill Nye the Science Guy, and Wishbone. We started just turning PBS on for a few hours in the morning to see what would catch his interest, and it was quickly clear that Super Why would be a favorite.
He now interacts with the show, calling out Super Letters as he sees them, shouting out the characters names as they appear on screen, trying to pick which word to zap into the sentence, etc. He runs to the kitchen to get his letter magnets and match them to the letters on screen. Between your show & these magnets, my son has learned all his letters, upper and lower case, as well as all the sounds that the letters make. As I said, he’s not even 2 yet, and is starting to read. He sounds out short words, and he gets especially excited when he sees a word that he knows on Super Why.
Thank you for this incredibly educational show capable of completely capturing my sons attention for the duration. This show is proof that TV does not have to be a bad thing. When it reinforces what the child is already learning, and encourages interaction, it can be an invaluable tool for education.
A grateful mother,
Hip Hip Hooray!
Do you know a SuperWhy fan whose name is Hannah, Nathan, Hailey or Aneliese?
If so: 1) LIKE my Fb fanpage & 2) post why they’re a fan & I’ll send your Super Reader some free, personalized Super Why gifts!
Funded by the CPB as part of its Ready to Learn initiative, SUPER WHY Reading Camps were held in over 100 communities as they built upon the success of the SUPER WHY television show. We are now opening up our signature early literacy curriculum to the community. Online teacher (or parent) tutorials are supplied offering tips and techniques for growing successful readers.
The reading camp is a 5 day interactive learning adventure which shows children the power of reading and motivates them to play with letters, sounds and words through a comprehensive curriculum. A curriculum which has been developed by noted literacy experts. The activities offered through this curriculum reinforce knowledge through repetition and various forms of learning (i.e. art, music, movement, dance and games) and also utilize CD’s, DVDs, worksheets, and more. Literacy skills showed significant improvement (at the 95% significance level) for those who attended the camp thanks to SUPER WHY Reading Camp’s multimedia approach.
For more information or to download the actual curriculum, click here to go to PBSkids.org
After careful deliberation of some incredibly creative & just plain cute Halloween costumes, the judges have reached their final decision.
Congratulations to Nathan B. who wow’d our judges with his (or more accurately his Mom Kimberly’s) handmade Mr. Stay Puft Marshmallow Man costume. He will be receiving $50 worth of Super Why & Blue’s Clues merchandise to share with his family and friends.
Thank you everyone for Liking us on our Facebook fanpage and for sharing your wonderful photos with us in our 1st Angela’s Clues Halloween Photo Contest.
From my house to yours, have a fantastic Halloween!!
Join me Nov 2-5th at the world’s largest gathering of early childhood educators at the 2011 NAEYC Annual Conference & Expo, Orlando, FL. Sharpen your Playskool saw and come explore, connect, network and become energized.
If you’re not able to attend be sure to take advantage of this year’s newest online learning opportunity, the NAEYC Live Learning Center. This resource connects you with up to 50 hrs of selected sessions from the conferences allowing you to catch up on sessions you weren’t able to attend and experience twice the knowledge!
I will be a featured speaker on Nov 4th covering the topic of: Connecting the Classroom to Educational, Interactive Children’s Media: Blues Clues, Super Why and Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. Come on over and say hello!