Ralph Lowell Medal and others, May 2010

The primary figures in the histories of the PBS series Frontline and Sesame Street were saluted by PBS

CPB Ralph Lowell Medal: Frontline auteur David Fanning received CPB’s 38th annual Lowell medal May 18 during the PBS Annual Meeting in Austin, Texas.

The prestigious honor has been presented since 1975 for outstanding contributions to public television. Fanning began his career in journalism at a newspaper in his native South Africa before shifting to American pubTV in 1973.

PBS “Be More” Award: Joan Ganz Cooney, co-founder of Children’s Television Workshop (now Sesame Workshop) and prime creator of Sesame Street, received the award recognizing contributions to society that exemplify the PBS spirit of “Be more” — “expanding horizons, opening up possibilities and exploring new ideas.”

Cooney commented that she’s especially proud that Sesame Street hasn’t backed away from tough topics such as a parent’s military deployment, unemployment or the death of friends and relatives. “Muppets have a way of making these hard subjects a little easier to grasp,” she said.

Previous recipients include documentarian Ken Burns, newsmen Bill Moyers and Jim Lehrer, science educator Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Fred Rogers of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.

C. Scott Elliott Development Professional of the Year: PBS named Jon Miskowski, Wisconsin Public Television‘s director of development as well as executive director of its friends group. He supervises the state network’s major giving, underwriting, auction and membership. Miskowski previously served as membership director for WGBY in Springfield, Mass., and for WPT.

PBS Teachers Innovation Awards: PBS recognized 50 educators chosen from more than 700 nominations submitted online. PBS said the annual honors go to “teachers who are transforming classroom learning and providing children with the tools they need to reach their full potential and succeed in the 21st century.”

The top 10 winners include Tricia Fuglestad, whose “Fugleflicks” movies created by students at Dryden Elementary School in Arlington Heights, Ill., have been screened in international film festivals. Those top winners received a trip to Austin for their award ceremonies at the meeting, and were given a SMART Board interactive whiteboard system and a Logitech camera. The top 50 winners receive PBS instructional technology resources.

For a linked list of the Top 10 winners and their projects, go to tinyurl.com/PBSTeachers.

Your PBS Video Contest: Michael Kelvin Lee of San Francisco won the national contest hosted by PBS Engage. The contest asked would-be filmmakers to illustrate in 30 seconds how they interact with PBS beyond watching broadcasts. Lee’s entry, “PBS Taught Me,” used a felt-tip pen, notebook, stop-action video and a jaunty soundtrack to capture first prize. A panel of pubcasters and other media experts chose Lee’s film. He won a trip to Austin and a behind-the-scenes tour of Austin City Limits. The People’s Choice prize, bestowed by the vote of site visitors, went to “Online to Explore,” by Henry Michael Basta Jr. of Abingdon, Md., another stop-action video using colorful chalk drawings that become more elaborate as the video progresses. Both winners are posted at videocontest.pbs.org.

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