Education Through Entertainment

School Assemblies - How it all got started!

Posted on Mon, Aug 16, 2010

I thought some of you might have an interest in learning a little bit about how the whole business of school assemblies and school assembly programs got started.

Many years ago there really were no educational assembly programs for school that were also entertaining. Schools could choose between magicians or ventriloquists doing their “act” or dry (and often boring) lectures from visiting police, firemen or various “experts”.

In the 1970’s a performer in Michigan was having a great time. school assembly programs early daysHe was a teacher and administrator in the Livonia School District, but he was also working in live children’s television. His name was Larry Thompson. Early each morning Larry would go into a television studio and take on the role of Mr. Whoodinini, a magician who was sidekick to Bozo the Clown. The program was called Bozo’s Big Top and it played for years in the Detroit area. Larry and Bozo made many special appearances all over the country in those days, and enjoyed a huge popularity. School assemblies,larry thompson,mr. whoodiniFollowing the broadcast each morning, Larry would head over to school and teach his classes, sometimes still in makeup! His students thought it was so cool!

Well, part of his job at the school was to schedule assemblies and it drove him crazy that there was so little available that was both entertaining and educational. So in 1979 he took matters into his own hands, and created Mobile Ed Productions. The first assembly for schools he created was called The Amazing World of Light. Business was a little rickety the first year but the company survived! Other science programs about chemistry and physics were soon added. History and other subjects joining the fold, too, in the years that followed. My own Abraham Lincoln assembly began in January of 1989. Hands on workshops to augment the science assemblies began to be offered shortly after the start of the company, and have proven extremely popular. 

That first year we sold sixty school assemblies, all in Michigan. Mobile Ed has grown steadily ever since. We no longer offer The Amazing World of Light, which has been updated many times since it’s original creation. Over the years we have employed some truly great school assembly performers (and, honestly, a few here and there who were not so great - though they never worked here for long!). Many have stayed with us for years and years. Many school assembly performers working today first learned about school assemblies while seated in an audience for one of our assemblies! Mobile Ed Productions is now the largest company in the country offering educational school assembly programs with performances in some 6,000 schools annually in more than 35 states. Over the years, literally millions of children have benefited from the programs started by Larry Thompson.

So the next time you are enjoying an assembly at your school, you just might want to say a mental "thank you" to Larry Thompson for helping to create a business that has brought so much joy and so much learning to so many kids over so many years. Part of his "act" was mind-reading, so the chances are - he just might hear you! Larry Thompson,school assemblies,school assembly performersAs to the shows themselves, Larry still chuckles and says,
“They are going to have fun, that’s a given, but, if they are not careful, they also just might learn something!”

Geoff Beauchamp is the Regional Manager of Mobile Ed Productions where "Education Through Entertainment" has been the guiding principal since 1979. Mobile Ed Productions produces and markets quality educational school assembly programs in the fields of sciencehistorywritingastronomynatural sciencemathematicscharacter issues and a variety of other curriculum based areas. In addition, Mr. Beauchamp is a professional actor with 30 years of experience in film, television and on stage. He created and still performs occasionally in Mobile Ed's THE LIVING LINCOLN

Topics: School Assemblies, School Assembly Programs, School Assembly Performers, Michigan School Assemblies, hands on workshops