Fred Rogers hosted 895 episodes of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood, beginning February 19, 1968, and ending August 31, 2001. I never knew about Mr. Rogers in 1968, as my youngest brother was 10 that year, and not watching Mr. Rogers on Channel 13, the PBS station in Pittsburgh. When I began my teaching career, I heard more and more about this wonderful man named Mr. Rogers, who was even discussed by my 9th and 10th grade students. Sometimes, when discussing a poem or an idea in literature, a student would say, "Once on that show, Mr. Rogers Neighborhood, he said . . . " The student would remember a lesson from the show that applied to our learning in English class. Mr. Rogers did, indeed, have a profound influence on children.
I went to the movies to see the documentary "Won't You Be My Neighbor?" on the weekend. The film was so wonderful, and because I did not have children or very young siblings, the movie taught me many facts about Fred Rogers and his love for children. The film is narrated by a multitude of people, including Fred's wife and sons, his producer, and some characters on the show. Each gave great insight into Fred Rogers' mission to help children negotiate the bumps and lumps and difficulties of childhood. Fred recognized that children have real feelings and fears, just like adults. Using a variety of puppets (Daniel Tiger was Fred - as a puppet), important topics were covered, including divorce, assassination, bullying, and more. The movie shows some of the excerpts of episodes, and I am not embarrassed to tell you that I was moved to tears on several occasions. Mr. Rogers was just so GOOD. His serenity and caring are apparent in both the scenes presented in the film, as well as the interviews of the man himself. The poignant interviews showing Mr. Rogers interacting with children with special needs are so touching. I was especially moved by his conversation with Jeff Erlanger, a quadriplegic young boy he had on the show. If you have not seen this short episode, take a look: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5BZlyxS37Kk ) When Mr. Rogers was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame, Jeff Erlanger was a surprise guest for Fred, and their on stage reunion is so pure and true - straight from both of their hearts. Here is that link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TcNxY4TudXo Mr. Rogers authenticity shows in every word he utters. What a guy!
Mr. Rogers treated his "neighbors" with respect and love, and he taught millions of children to do the same. He modeled that behavior in his real life and on television. Through the TV medium, he taught children to cherish and appreciate life, and he also taught them acceptance of themselves, and tolerance of others. To me, Mr. Rogers is a hero, a person I can look up to and admire for his dedication to children.
The documentary of Mr. Rogers just surpassed the $20 million dollar mark, making it the highest grossing documentary of all time. What a beautiful accolade to the man who brought calmness, good manners, and love to so many. We could sure use Mr. Rogers in today's world!
I urge you to see this wonderful film. Although Mr. Rogers lived in Pittsburgh and I am a Pittsburgher, this film offered some great insights into the making of the show and the man himself. I promise you will enjoy the film! He was a great teacher, with an ongoing ministry of kindness. His love and acceptance of children "exactly the way you are" is a lesson for all the world.
As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions.
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Please invite Grady Gets Glasses (and me) into your school. if you are not in the Pittsburgh area, we do virtual field trips with a group called Field Trip Zoom. www.Fieldtripzoom.com GRADY GETS GLASSES was the winner of Best New Children's Book 2016 from The Authors' Zone. For more information about The Authors' Zone, please visit http://www.theauthorszone.com/submissions/
Visit Dede's webpage for complete details on her award-winning book, STUDENT TEACHING: THE INSIDE SCOOP FROM A MASTER TEACHER. Many colleges have made the book required reading. Signed copies are available www.dederittman.com Dede is also a national speaker on The Three C's for Classroom success: Confidence, communication, and Creativity; Avoiding Teacher burnout; and many other inspirational topics.
I LOVE writing. And I love writing children's books- my newest passion. Although it will be a ton of work, I am looking forward to selling my books. Since I was a secondary teacher, I know that I have much to learn about elementary students, and I will have to follow my own advice and be my genuine self. However, I also know that I am passionate about helping kids who have to wear glasses, and that GRADY GETS GLASSES sends a positive message. I am willing to work hard and do all the things that also made me a successful teacher for 37 years. I remain inspired!
Elementary teachers in Western Pennsylvania and beyond - I am willing to come into your classroom in person or as a virtual field trip through a group called Field Trip Zoom. Check them out! http://www.fieldtripzoom.com/
Teacher friends- let me know if you want me to read GRADY GETS GLASSES at your school. I am willing to come in to discuss the creative writing process, why writing is important, and personal fulfillment through writing, along with reading my book. I would appreciate the exposure, and I would make signed copies available for purchase in your classrooms following the reading. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org The website www.gradygetsglasses.com now has plush Grady bunnies for sale!
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