Joya’s Fun School
If you remember watching The Magic Garden in the 70s, you may also remember that it didn’t appear on Fridays. Those were reserved for a beloved little series called Joya’s Fun School. Filled with stories, songs and other activities, the show was a local educational favorite for over a decade.
Joya’s Fun School debuted in 1970, hosted by Joya Sherrill, a jazz vocalist who had previously toured with Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman and Count Basie.
WPIX-TV originally wanted her to do an adult talk show, but her forte turned out to be educational programming, a genre that was just starting to show some cultural diversity, thanks to shows like Sesame Street and The Electric Company.
The first incarnation was Time For Joya, a Sunday morning show that featured Joya interacting with her young audience, as well as her musical director Luther “The Professor” Henderson. He provided piano accompaniment to the many songs on the show. She also regularly conversed with a puppet named Seymour, the Bookworm.
The show proved popular among kids, parents and educators, and soon after, the show had a new name and a new time slot. Joya’s Fun School would air for the next 11 years on Friday afternoons, replacing another popular show, The Magic Garden for one day each week.
Joya’s Fun School went off the air in 1982. Sadly, videotapes of the show were lost or destroyed over the year, so there won’t be any future DVD releases of the series. The two clips in this article are the only ones that have surfaced on YouTube to date.
Joya Merrill passed away on Long Island in 2010 at the age of 85. I’m sure she was well aware of her many former fans from the 70s, however, who continue to remember this wonderful show from their childhood to this day.
If you watched Joya’s Fun School as a kid, I hope you’ll take a moment to share your memories with all of us in the comments section below.