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Working with Fred Rogers

In the Spring of 2009, we were lucky enough to have a regular on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, Marilyn Barnett, provide us with some first hand comments regarding her time on the program. We are extremely grateful to Ms. Barnett for her time and comments.

According to the official Mister Rogers' Neighborhood site, "When Marilyn Barnett first came to Mister Rogers' real Neighborhood, she was a physical education teacher" and is best remembered for visiting the Neighborhood and "teaching Mister Rogers and viewers simple exercises." I hope you'll find her thoughts and memories as touching as I have.

[Fred Rogers] was more than just a person that I worked with for 30 years, he was a very special man. It wasn't just a television to show to him.

Fred cared about people, kids, children and adults. Some of the most special times were going to study to talk before the taping. Then at break, I would watch his choices of foods. It was exciting to see how healthy. Sometimes he would just eat yogurt.

He never focused on himself, and even when you complimented him, he would find some way to return the compliment back to you. He was one of the most unselfsh men I've ever met, and he was extremely personable.

He also knew the importance making sure what he said came across in a very positive way. He studied what he said, and thought about it. He was also open to making changes. If there was a script written for me and I had a suggestion, he would listen and possibly change it. He respected people that came to the table and their area of expertise. He would say "Marilyn is right, that's a good idea."

And from being around so many different people, he was always being taught. He was a lifelong learner. That's going to help children learn, from learning from a variety of people, that's his gift to the world.

I miss those talks with Mr. Rogers. He was full of energy and positivity. It started from him and trickled down through the cast. He is deeply missed and we still have all the tapes, and things he taught.

He did more than educate children, he educated the world.

Most people are most concerned with the cognitive part of child development. For Fred, it was more than about the abc's and counting. He was concerned about the affective domain, because if you can reach kids how they feel about things, their interpersonal beings, the total child, then you have an opportunity to reach them. He focused on the feelings before he went into cognitive development.

- Dr. Marilyn F. Barnett, PhD

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