Planet Preschool

The Little Airplane Academy

Dear Readers, I have always liked the saying, “A rising tide raises all ships.”  And that’s exactly what I say when people ask me why we open Little Airplane’s doors twice ...
August 4, 2009

Dear Readers,

I have always liked the saying, “A rising tide raises all ships.”  And that’s exactly what I say when people ask me why we open Little Airplane’s doors twice a year to outside creators and producers to share our approach to making and selling a great preschool series.  The Little Airplane Academy has been in existence for about six years and we’ve even taken our Academy on the road to London and Qatar and offered customized Academies for our clients.  I love the Academy for many reasons but I guess the biggest one is the look in our students’ eyes when they realize that they can, in fact, make their dream of creating a show a reality.

This week I have asked my dear friend Melinda Richards to write about her experience helping me run the Academy all these years.  This is just one of many hats that Mel wears at Little Airplane.  Others include writer, producer and guest director.  Mel is very much the Turtle Tuck of Little Airplane, which is to say she’s the team member with the biggest heart.  Here are Mel’s thoughts on the Academy and, as always, I invite you to leave us a comment.


As the Writing Producer at Little Airplane I must admit that I have the messiest desk here.  Every paragraph, sentence, word and question mark that leaves this office is carefully scrutinized by yours truly.

As a result, I have to do periodic purges of the papers on my desk.  I was doing one such purge last week when I came upon a hidden treasure.  Look what I found!

Yep, that’s a little animated me flying the plane!  Allow me to explain.  Every year my colleague Tone Thyne and I organize the Little Airplane Academy.  You may even have gotten an email from me about it.  Little Airplane offers a three-day course called “How to Make a Great Preschool Series.”  We line up all the best folks in our industry to come in and speak about pitching, character design, writing, directing, licensing and lots more.  We’ve had everyone from Cartoon Network’s Adina Pitt to Treehouse TV’s Brenda Nietupski to Sprout’s Andrew Beecham come in and talk to our students about their wonderful channels.

Everyone who attends the Academy seems to have a great time.  Here’s an email I received from one of our recent alumni, Stephanie Jones:

“Just wanted to say thank you all so much for a superb workshop last weekend. I feel fortunate to have met such fantastic folks and to have soaked up so much information from you and your outstanding Instructors.  Everyone at Little Airplane was so amazingly gracious; you guys really exemplify the very best in creating and running great shows and you’ve made Little Airplane such a nurturing, supremely creative AND fun place to be.  It was inspiring to see you all at work!”

And it’s inspiring for me to meet these people who are just as passionate about preschool TV as I am.  Heck, some of them have flown halfway around the world to attend the Academy.  They arrive; industry pros, schoolteachers, stage actors, composers, even executives and they all have this wonderful fire in their bellies.  They really are going to make the next great preschool series and we’re gonna get them started.

We have another Academy coming up from August 15 – 17.  Our speakers this time include Kurt Mueller from Chorion Silver Lining and Nick Jr.’s Kay Wilson Stallings.  If you’d like to learn more about the next Academy, please visit

Thanks for listening!  I’ll stop now because, well, I have a desk to clean.  And an Academy to plan.  We hope to see you there!

- Melinda

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