Admirable Women! The Creative Vision of Joan Ganz Cooney!

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!

Admirable Women!

“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.

Joan Ganz Cooney: Co-founder of Sesame Street.

(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”!

Sesmae Street with Jim Henson puppets.

(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.

Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch on Sesame Street!

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!

Joan Ganz Cooney: Sesame Street workshop co-founder.

(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.)


Admirable Women! The Adventurous Spirit Of Amelia Earhart!

Admirable Women!

Continuing with another journal entry in the admirable women series…I want to celebrate the adventurous spirit of Amelia Earhart.  In July of this year, History Channel’s documentary “Amelia Earhart–The Lost Evidence”  renewed interest in researching the mysterious disappearance in 1937 of Earhart and her flight navigator, Fred Noonan, when new evidence and pictures were found of the pair as she attempted to become the first pilot to fly around the world.  Regardless of how she died, Amelia Earhart will forever be a lasting symbol of the tenacity and perseverance of American women!

Admirable Women!

I imagine any young girl who has studied the adventurous life of Amelia Earhart, the first woman to make a solo transatlantic flight, in history class, envisioned herself a little more daring…and a little more determined to follow her dreams, no matter what they were–I know I did!

The Adventurous Spirit Of Amelia Earhart!

Amelia Earhart was born in Atchison, Kansas on July 24, 1897.  In reading about Amelia’s early life, you soon realize that she defied traditional gender roles at a fairly young age…she played basketball, took auto mechanics courses, excelled in chemistry, and served as a Red Cross nurse’s aid during World War I in Toronto, Canada, where she spent most of her spare time watching the pilots in the Royal Flying Corps train at the local airfields.

Amelia Earhart quote.

Airplane clip art.



Ten Fun Facts About Amelia Earhart!


1. When Amelia Earhart was eleven years old, in 1908, she saw one of the Wright Brothers first airplanes at the Iowa State Fair.  She didn’t think much of the plane at the time, and told her mother she had no interest in flying.

2. On December 28, 1920, Amelia and her father visited an air show in California and Amelia went on her first plane ride that day.  She later said that she knew she had to fly as soon as the plane got a few hundred feet off the ground.

3. Another pioneering female aviator, Anita “Neta” Snook, taught Earhart how to fly at Kinner Field near Long Beach, California.  Amelia worked hard at a variety of jobs from freelance photographer to being a truck driver so she could earn enough money to take flying lessons.  According to the official Amelia Earhart biography website, Earhart immersed herself in flying and spent as much time as she could at the airfield.  Not wanting to stand out from the other more experienced pilots, Amelia cropped her hair and even slept in her new leather jacket several nights to give it a more “worn” look.

The Adventurous Spirt of Amelia Earhart!

“Flying is not all clear sailing, but the fun of it is worth the price.”  Amelia Earhart

 4. Amy Earhart, Amelia’s mother, an adventurer herself, (the first woman to ever climb Pikes Peak in Colorado) encouraged her daughter’s passion for flying and even used some inheritance money to help Amelia buy a second-hand plane six month’s after her first flying lessons.  It was bright yellow, so she nicknamed it “The Canary” and set her sights on establishing herself as a respected aviator, always displaying remarkable talent and bravery.  In 1923, she became the first woman to get a pilot’s license from the National Aeronautic Association. (NAA) 

 5. Amelia Earhart wrote several articles that were published in Cosmopolitan magazine–ie. “Shall Your Daughter Fly” and “Why Are Women Afraid To Fly” recounting her adventures as a female pilot in an attempt to encourage other women to fly, even if they just did so commercially.  (While commercial flights didn’t really take off until after WWII, they do date back to as early as 1914.)  

Strong Women quote by Amelia Earhart.

 “The most effective way to do it…is to do it! ” Amelia Earhart

 6. In 1929, Amelia Earhart organized and then became the first president of the “Ninety Nines” a group of 99 women pilots that promoted advancement in aviation for women.  The organization still exists today and provides scholarships and education for women who share the passion of flying.

 7. The publicist, George Putnam, who had published several writings by the renowned pilot, Charles Lindbergh, proposed to Amelia Earhart six times before she agreed to marry him.  Amanda Hess, of the New York Times, recently found a letter penned by Earhart prior to her marriage, where she states that she would not quit flying, and that she and George should not “…interfere with the others’ work or play.”  In 1939, after Earhart’s death, Putnam authored Amelia’s biography, entitled “Soaring Wings” as a tribute to his beloved wife.

 8. After a series of record-making flights, Amelia Earhart created flying clothes for women that were mostly comprised of loose trousers and zipper tops with big pockets.  Later, she designed a fashion line that she described as being “…clothes for the woman who lives actively!”  The clothing debuted with much anticipation and fanfare in 1933 at RH Macy & Co. in New York City.    

Amelia Earhart's clothing line.

 “Nothing is achieved by people who give up!”   Amelia Earhart

 9. Although Amelia Earhart may be best known for being the first female pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic, she was also the first person to ever fly solo from Honolulu to Oakland, and from Los Angeles to Mexico City, and from Mexico City to Newark, New Jersey.

10. In June of 1937, Amelia Earhart embarked upon the first around-the-world flight.  On July 2, after completing nearly two-thirds of her historic flight–over 22,000 miles–Amelia and her navigator vanished without a trace, somewhere over the Pacific Ocean.

Amelia Earhart final flight.

“Never interrupt someone doing what you said couldn’t be done!”  Amelia Earhart

There are many theories concerning the disappearance of Amelia Earhart on her last fateful flight; some speculate that she ran our of gas looking for her next fuel stop on the Howard Islands in the Pacific Ocean.  Others have thought she may have crashed landed on another small island and died as a cast-away.  Some have even theorized that she and her navigator were captured by the Japanese and accused by their leaders of espionage.

Whatever your beliefs, I hope that Amelia Earhart is remembered most for being a strong female figure who encouraged the empowerment of women, in the best sense of the term, who radiated kindness, strength and independence and eschewed conventional female roles and forged new ones for herself and other women who would follow in the future!  She truly was an admirable woman!


Here’s to each of us finding the courage to live out our dreams…no matter our age!

Do you have a favorite history book female role model?  How did they influence your life.  Please share!  


Admirable Women! The Quiet Strength of Laura Bush!

Admirable Women!

There are so many loving and gracious women from my mother and grandmother, to wonderful teachers, friends and neighbors, as well as influential public figures, who have enriched my life in so many ways, that I have decided to start a new series here on the Tribute Journal spotlighting some of these admirable women!

Admirable Women!

In today’s society, it often seems that more attention is paid to the women yelling obscenities into a mega phone, rather than those who show by their untiring efforts to make a “real” difference as they lead with gentle fortitude and steadfast commitment to their families, churches and communities.  These are the kind of women I want to rally with, so to speak; these are the women I want my children and grandchildren to be inspired by when they face tough times and hard decisions, so they can still remain hopeful and happy in this ever evolving world.

The Quiet Strength of Laura Bush!


(via White House Portraits)

Laura Welch Bush was the only child of Harold and Jenna Welch.  Mrs. Bush states in her autobiography, Spoken From The Heart, that although her beloved parents lost three other babies, due to either miscarriage or infant death, they loved and laughed; nurturing her with kind, supportive care to help her become the capable, educated and considerate woman she is today!

Laura Bush grew up in Midland Texas, a place she describes as ice cream sundaes…and Saturday morning pony rides.  Mrs. Bush graduated from Southern Methodist University in Texas with a degree in early childhood education and later went on to receive her master degree in library science.  One of the things I probably admire most about Laura Bush, is the fact that as a teacher, first in Dallas, then later in Houston, she championed community causes such as literacy and elementary school programs long before she became a high-profile public figure.  Mrs. Bush was a major driving force behind the local book fairs that are common in many of the grade schools even now.

Admirable Women! The Quiet Strength of Laura Bush!

(via Laura Bush Foundation)

“Libraries allow children to ask questions about the world and find answers.  And the wonderful thing is that once a child learns to use a library, the doors to learning are always open.”  Laura Bush

In 1995, as the wife of then Governor George W. Bush, Mrs. Bush established the Texas Book Festival, an annual event that promotes literacy; when her husband became President of the United States in 2001, she launched the first National Book Festival, which featured authors from every state across the nation.

Laura Bush also became involved in the Reach Out and Read program, which is an early childhood development initiative geared to helping parents and other caregivers to prepare children for formal instruction in reading.

In 2002, Mrs. Bush launched the Laura Bush Foundation for American Libraries, that grants awards worth more than $1,000,000 to US schools every year.

Children's books by Laura Bush.

Laura Bush has also written two delightful children’s books with her daughter, Jenna Bush Hager, that my granddaughters love me to read to them. 

As an avid reader myself, who loves to share good books with family and friends, I greatly admire the remarkable efforts of Laura Bush in setting a higher standard for literacy, libraries and education in America!

Laura Bush quote.

September 11, 2001, not only brought the horror and devastation of terrorism to America, it shed light on the cruel and inhumane treatment of Afghan women in their homeland.  Mrs. Bush, along with other thoughtful and influential women, including Condoleezza Rice, became outspoken advocates for expanding rights and opportunities for all women worldwide!

Laura Bush, Condoleza Rice advocate for Afghan women's rights.

(via Condoleezza Rice archives) 

On November 17, 2001, the White House assigned President Bush’s weekly radio address to First Lady, Laura Bush.  It was the first time that a presidential wife was given this opportunity.  Mrs. Bush stated that the war on terrorism was “a fight for the rights and dignity of women everywhere.” 

“Islam is a religion that respects women and humanity and condemns the brutal degradation of women and children by the Taliban regime.  In Afghanistan, we see the world the terrorists would like to impose on the rest of us.”  Laura Bush

Anyone who considerately seeks after proper treatment of women and children with dignified finesse, is for me, someone who is worthy of deep admiration!

Admirable Women! The Quiet Strength of Laura Bush!

Perhaps one of the things I admire more than anything else about Laura Bush and her husband, is how honorably they have conducted their post presidential years.  According to, the former president and first lady enjoy an active and enjoyable life at their home in Crawford, Texas, that includes the love of gardening for her, and painting for him.  (Pres. Bush recently published a book portrait paintings he did of former Veteran’s titled “Portraits of Courage”.)  Mrs. Bush also remains actively involved with many of the causes she championed during her more public years.

The Laura W. Bush Institute for Women's Health.

(via Laura Bush Foundation)

Laura Bush continues to promote current women’s issues and the improvement of women’s healthcare worldwide, which includes raising funds for “The Laura W. Bush Institute for Women’s Health” founded in August of 2007 as part of Texas Tech University’s Health Science Center in Lubbock, Texas. 

Admirable Women! The Quiet Strength of Laura Bush!

(via George W. Bush Institute)

The former President of the United States and Mrs. Bush visited Botswana and Namibia, Africa on April 4-7, 2017, as part of their George W. Bush Institute’s work on global advancement of women’s health and leadership that has now made available breast and cervical screening tests in that country. 

As a maternity and NICU nurse, with a degree in health education, I understand well the need for all women to make their health a priority.  I’m in awe of the work the Bush’s have done to make health information and aid available to so many in need throughout the world!

Laura Bush quote.

Of the women you find admirable, what are some of their character traits that inspire you?  Also, I’d love your input on other women, from all walks of life, that you’d like featured in this series.  Would you be interested in being a guest writer on my blog and presenting a woman you admire? 

–Love always, Mary