Sesame Street, celebs and learning to read….

Muppets, meet Michelle Obama. The First Lady dropped by the "Sesame Street" studios in Astoria, New York Tuesday and showed off her green thumb by helping Elmo plant a garden. <br><bR> "I never thought I'd be on Sesame Street with Elmo and Big Bird, and I was thrilled," Obama said later that day at the US Mission to the UN. "I'm still thrilled. I'm on a high." <br><br> "I think it's probably the best thing I've done so far in the White House," she added.

Over the years, a number of  performers, actors, musicians have visited Sesame Street, the traditionally trusted children’s program of choice ,  low these many years.  Sesame Street is an educational television program designed for preschoolers which combines education and entertainment in children’s television shows. As one of the longest running  shows in television history,  4100 episodes of the show have been produced in 39 seasons. It premiered on November 10, 1969 on the National Educational Television network, and later , the Public Broadcasting Service.

Sesame Street has earned the distinction of being

one of the world’s foremost and most highly regarded educators of young children.  The original series has been televised in 120 countries, and more than 20 international versions have been produced. In its long history, Sesame Street has received more Emmy Awards than any other program, and has captured the allegiance, esteem, and affections of millions of viewers worldwide.

As  Sesame Street  celebrates its 40th anniversary on November 10,  Mrs. Michelle Obama will be visiting the street to plant a garden with Elmo.  The street in which many have grown up on.

“I never thought I’d be on Sesame Street with Elmo and Big Bird, and I was thrilled,” Obama said later that day at the US Mission to the UN. “I’m still thrilled. I’m on a high.”
“I think it’s probably the best thing I’ve done so far in the White House,” she added.

What a great quote! I so love  what Mrs. Obama said.  Of course,  I began think of the many other  performers who have  made guest appearances on Sesame Street.  Appearances which promote  literacy and math skills to our youth.

It could be suggested that some performers  are furthering their own  public personas of  personal interests by adapting their signature song .  And yes, many young children, ages 3-6 years old really are not aware of  who these personalities are. However,   a  diverse  selection of talented people from the world of music, performance, activism etc.  do create more entertaining  show for children.  As does the  racial balance between the guests.  I can  fondly remember back to my childhood, watching Buffy Sainte Marie ( whom I met at an American Library Association Conference in 2001) counting with Cookie  Monster.  She was one of the first female  native ‘celebs’ who appeared on national television.   Over the years various  guests  from Johnny  Cash to Larry King,  from Tina Fey to Ray Charles,  from Joe Torre to the Harlem Globetrotters.  Thus,  all guests are presenting positive multicultural  role models for  the youth audience.

I think that Mrs. Obama is doing much of what Buffy Sainte Marie did in the early 70s, helping to educate  the next generation as well as provide a positive  model of success.

Recreation and segregation on the BRP

Sarah Potwin at A.S.U.

Sarah Potwin at A.S.U.

Thursday, July 10th. Day 5 in Boone, North Carolina began with an early start. After a quick breakfast in the school cafeteria ( though there was time for a quick latte at the Student Union coffee bar..!) we boarded the bus for Julian Park were we met with Dr. Eric Faruman and Dr. Wayne Williams, both professors in the recreation management department at Appalachian State University. Despite the rain, we met as a group in the outdoor amphitheater to discuss the importance of field trips for our children. Last Child in the woods:saving our children from nature deficit disorder by Richard Lou was cited a number of times. Leave no ethics and outdoor education resources such as Project

Dr. Eric Frauman, Price Lake, BRP

Dr. Eric Frauman, Price Lake, BRP

Wild were introduced. We discussed the role of class field trips for our students and how it can improve their understanding of the curriculm. Field trip management ( risk management) and funding were also reviewed. A planned 2.4 mile hike around Julian Price Lake was cut short due to earlier rains causing the trails to be impassable near the half way point. We examined rhododendrons ( which grow rampant in this area of North Carolina, a water snake and several trees which have been partially chewed by a resident beaver.(One of Sarah Potwin’s favorite animals.)

After a box lunch in the amphitheater, we again boarded the bus to a brief travel to Doughton Park, mile marker 238-245. Historian Elizabeth Hunter gave a brief talk of race and segregation along the BRP. She lead us on a walk of one of the hidden segregated picnic areas, a less scenic location for minorities in the 40s and 50s. Lunch counters could be used by whites only. An immensely scenic location, which takes full advantage of the neighbouring mountains was located higher on a hill in Doughton Park. This location has been maintained today, with advantageous access to washrooms and nearly parking areas. The segregated picnic area is no longer maintained as that the segregation policy of the National Park Service has long since been abandoned. We discussed the notion of who the BRP is for, and providing services for all. Oral history has proven to be an important source of historical information on this topic.

Brinegar Cabin, Mile marker 238, BRP

Brinegar Cabin, Mile marker 238, BRP

Our final stop took us past some of the most spectacular vistas so far on our week of learning. Brinegar Cabin was home to Martin and Caroline Brinegar from 1880 to 1937 when the Park Service purchased it to construct the BRP. The property has been maintained as a traditional Appalachian cultural landscape for visitors. Ironically, the Brinegar cabin offers a much different glimpse into Appalachian living in comparison to the Cone Mansion, which was being lived in at roughly the same time. This location reinforces the traditional public concept of simple Appalachian living, yet demonstrates the hard work required to forge out a living : growing food to be self sustaining, growing and harvesting flax and wool to weave, shoe making etc. It portrays a self sufficiency in pioneer lifestyle ( learned gardening techniques, spring fed water supply).

Our National Park Rangers were excellent speakers, knowledgeable and

National Park Service park Ranger, Brinegar Cabin, BRP

National Park Service Park Ranger, Brinegar Cabin, BRP

willing to demonstrate many of the processes which the Brinegar family used in their daily lives. Strong family values in a pre- industrial time are evident. The Brinegar family were not bothered by a need for a modernity lifestyle. Martin Brinegar is buried at a nearby crest of the Parkway. Caroline left the property in 1937. The National park Service granted the property to her until her death. Though, in 1937 she left due to the interruption of the parkway’s construction in her quiet lifestyle. A heavy machinery ( bulldozer, crane depot as located nearly 150 feet away from her cabin) as well as blasting of North Carolina rock was occurring in the area , both shattering she sense of quietness and autonomy.

Our return to Boone was later than anticipated. Thus, a few fellow participants and I found a place off campus for a quick dinner before returning to my room for reading and writing.