Jamestown Public Schools will help students “learn through laughter” next fall with “Lucy Lessons” pilot program

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JAMESTOWN, N.Y. (WIVB) – This upcoming school year, some kids in grades two through six in the Jamestown City School District will get a boost in their learning with the help of a hometown hero.

The district is piloting a new program called “Lucy Lessons”.

“Lucy Lessons” is a learning approach that uses clips and whole episodes of “I Love Lucy” to incorporate English Language Arts, math, science, and social studies – as well as social/emotional learning.

The district is collaborating with Howling Hounds Entertainment, ViacomCBS and DesiLu Too, LLC., to provide the program.

Bonnie Kole, president of Howling Hounds Entertainment, describes it as an “intervention tool”, which will engage kids to learn through laughter.

“We find that the situations in these lessons, kids can relate to and teachers can relate to,” Kole said. “Lucy Lessons naturally deals in every episode with social/emotional learning, because at the heart of the series were four people who could disagree, but at the end of the day they really did love and respect each other.”

Earlier this month, some JCSD teachers went through “Lucy Lessons” training. It was the first in-person training the district had in over a year, Tina Sandstrom, chief director of schools for the district, said.

“You could hear a lot of laughter from our training area, and [the teachers] were looking at ways they can use this training to help our students,” Sandstrom recalled. “We’re really excited for this – Lucy is one of our hometown heroes, so to have the opportunity to do this has been really fun for our school district and our community.”

The district is the first in the country to implement the program.

“We approached the Jamestown Public School District because Jamestown is the home of Lucille Ball,” Kole said.

The program can be applied for grades K through 12, and has been in development for years.

Its tagline of “laughter through learning” is backed by science.

“It has been shown that if you really increase the amount of laughter while you’re building a memory, the memory will last a whole lot longer,” Howling Hounds’ scientific expert Kathryn Ponnock said. “Learning with laughter is definitely the hallmark and it ties in very nicely with what we know about what’s going on in the brain.”

“I Love Lucy” will turn 70 this October – but the show still has appeal for people of all ages.

Howling Hounds’ early childhood expert Denese Sanders says she’s been workshopping the program with a first-grader.

“She never once brought up that the shows were black-and-white,” Sanders said. “For her, it was the humor and the things that we pulled out of it to laugh about.”

“They were black-and-white, but the writing brings the color to it,” Kole added. “It’s about love, respect, being good neighbors, being good citizens, and even though it’s a 70-year-old show, it’s as fresh as today’s news.”

Kaley Lynch is a digital reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2017. See more of her work here.

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