Developer of ‘Reading Rainbow’ Ellen Schecter and Philanthropist Gerri Aaron to Address Candidates at Arcadia University Commencements

By Purnell T. Cropper | April 2, 2014

Ellen Schecter, author, producer, and educator who has written or collaborated on many multi-award-winning television series for children and families including Reading Rainbow, will address baccalaureate degree candidates at Arcadia University’s undergraduate Commencement on Friday, May 16, 2014. Philanthropist Geraldine “Gerri” Aaron will address master’s and doctoral degree candidates at Arcadia’s graduate Commencement the previous day, Thursday, May 15, 2014.

Schecter will receive an honorary doctor of letters degree at the undergraduate Commencement, which begins at 10:15 a.m.; Aaron will receive an honorary doctor of humanities degree at the graduate Commencement, which begins at 5 p.m.

“Arcadia University is proud to honor two individuals who for decades have remained committed to positive social change,” said Dr. Nicolette DeVille Christensen, president of Arcadia University. “Ellen Schecter has worked diligently throughout her career to create substantial education materials that are both fun and intellectually stimulating for families and children. Gerri Aaron has displayed a dedication to supporting art and cultural institutions across the country. These achievements reflect the University’s efforts to empower our students to make an impact on the world around them.”


Schecter is a prolific writer, having published more than 20 books for children with Viking Penguin Putnam, HarperCollins, Scholastic, and Bantam Doubleday Dell. She has written, produced, or developed several award-winning television series for children and families that have appeared on PBS, Nickelodeon, and the Disney channel, including The Magic School Bus, Allegra’s Window, and Out of the Box. Among the awards her work has captured are an Emmy for Outstanding Children’s Series, the Américas Book Award for Children’s and Young Adult Literature (for her first novel, The Big Idea), and an Alpha Award from the American Children’s Television Festival. Her The Family Haggadah was a Book of the Month and Jewish Book Club selection. Fierce Joy: A Memoir, a book about living (joyfully) with neuropathy, was published by Greenpoint Press in 2012.

Schecter, who also ran a reading and writing program in New York City, earned a bachelor of arts degree in English from Arcadia University (then Beaver College) in 1966 and earned a master of arts degree in English and comparative literature from Hunter College. She is a member of the Writers Guild, ASCAP, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and PEN and is featured in Who’s Who of  American Women, Who’s Who in Entertainment, and Something About the Author.


A community volunteer, philanthropist, and fundraiser, Aaron is deeply involved with the arts, Jewish causes, and organizations associated with Parkinson disease. She and her late husband, Dan, created the Dan Aaron Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, which established the Dan Aaron Rehabilitation Center at the Parkinson Disease and Movement Disorder Center of Pennsylvania Hospital. The foundation later became part of the Parkinson Council in Philadelphia; Geraldine served as chairwoman of the foundation.

Aaron is actively involved in Sarasota, Fla., serving on the boards of directors of the American Jewish Committee, Jewish Family & Children’s Services of the Suncoast Inc., Planned Parenthood, Sarasota Orchestra, and the TREE Foundation. She has received several awards for her community activism and philanthropic efforts, including the Human Relations Award from the West Coast Florida Region of the American Jewish Committee in 2011, the Sarasota County Arts Council’s Nancy Roucher Annual Arts Education Award in 2010, and the National Council of Jewish Women’s Women in Power Award in 2009.

Aaron, her family, and the Aaron Family Foundation helped to found the Dan Aaron Stay Fit Exercise Program at Arcadia University, a program in the University’s Department of Physical Therapy that assists and supports community residents with Parkinson disease or multiple sclerosis.

More information about Arcadia’s Commencements is available at