Admirable Women! The Creative Vision Of Joan Ganz Cooney!
Many children around the world, including my own, as well as my grandchildren, have grown up being able to take advantage of the creative vision, drive and revolutionary work of Joan Ganz Cooney, the admirable woman behind the Children’s Television Workshop, whose credits include one of the best known and best loved television shows in history, Sesame Street!
“Cherishing children is the mark of a civilized world!” Joan Ganz Cooney
An Unlikely Career Path:
Born in 1929, Joan Ganz, was raised in a conventional household in Phoenix, Arizona, and though she was initially drawn to studying theater, her family encouraged her to pursue a teaching career. She graduated with a degree in education from the University of Arizona in 1951. Eventually, Ms. Ganz became interested in journalism and by 1954, she moved to New York City to work as a publicist for various TV networks. While living in New York City, she married Timothy Cooney, and had the opportunity to become a documentary producer for public television; it was while she worked on these documentaries that she decided she wanted to use television as a means for teaching children.
(via Children’s Television Workshop)
Joan Ganz Cooney decided early in her career as a television producer that she wanted to make a positive influence in people’s lives by using television as an innovative teaching medium for the benefit of young children everywhere!
After conducting a number of studies on the subject of using television programs as a way to teach children, Joan Ganz Cooney used her research to convince others of television’s potential for expanding a child’s learning arena. Her programming format inspiration came from the way TV commercials were produced; shows were created that had a quick pace intended to hold children’s interest, featuring a variety of educational segments in each episode. With financial assistance from the Carnegie Corporation, the U.S. Department of Education and the Ford Foundation, Cooney established the Children’s Television Workshop and Sesame Street premiered on TV’s Public Broadcasting System (PBS) in November of 1969 and has remained on the air ever since and continues to thrive in its mission to help kids “grow smarter, stronger and kinder”!
(via Sesame Street)
Along with its unique, multiracial cast of actors, Sesame Street also features characters created by the late Jim Henson, better known as the Muppets.
FYI…..did you know that Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch were the first two characters Jim Henson created for the Sesame Street television series?
Joan Ganz Cooney was also the mastermind behind other successful children’s shows like, The Electric Company (1971-1977), 3-2-1 Contact (1980-1988), and Square One TV (1987-1992). While she is no longer the president of the Children’s Television Workshop, she remains actively involved with the development of Sesame Street and other program planning in the organization.
Awards And Honors:
Joan Ganz Cooney has received countless, well-deserved honors for her dedication to educational television for children. In 1989 she received an Emmy Award for Lifetime Achievement, and in 1995 was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1998. In 2007, the Joan Ganz Cooney Center was founded, a nonprofit organization dedicated to children’s education and literacy.
Here, in her own words, is the continued vision Ms. Cooney has for children’s educational television:
A Compelling Passion!
I’m in awe of a woman so dedicated to the education and well-being of children. For me, she’s made possible the opportunity of watching the animated face of my youngest granddaughter when I tend her, who at a year and a half is learning while watching the adventures of her favorite characters, Abby and Zoe, on Sesame Street. Truly, Joan Ganz Cooney is a woman to be admired and her influence will live on in the lives of so many children…and adults, for that matter…everywhere! In May of 2014, at a Sesame Street Workshop gala, Cheryl Henson, the daughter of Jim Henson, praised Ms. Cooney for always being so passionate about her vision of a better society that could be described in one compelling phrase: Put the children first!
(via Joan Ganz Cooney archives)
“It’s not whether children will learn from television, it’s what children will learn from television…because everything that children see on television is teaching them something?” Joan Ganz Cooney Children’s Television Workshop
Did you watch Sesame Street as a child? If so, who were your favorite characters? What would loved ones say your life’s passion is? (I know…that’s deep, but interesting to think about.)