• Stepping On Up
    is made possible by:

    Our Funders

    Video Credits

    Website Credits

    Special Thanks

Our Funders

We would like to thank our funders for their generous support which made this project possible.

Stepping On Up Funders - Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, LLP and Pearson Simon Warshaw & Penny, LLP

About Stepping On Up

Written and developed by the Jim Watson, the producer of Life Steps, You Can Choose!, and PeaceTalks, Stepping On Up is a powerful and entertaining video series which helps elementary school students navigate the profound challenges and changes of the preteen and teen years.

Like other Heartland Media projects Stepping On Up showcases the unique talents of  Michael Pritchard and his astonishing ability to engage young people through his warmhearted humor and insightful guidance. This research-based series develops a wide range of social and emotional skills and opens the door to otherwise hard-to-tackle topics like bullying and cyber-bullying.


Stepping On Up is designed to:

  • reduce incidences of bullying, cyber-bullying
  • help students navigate complicated social-emotional issues
  • show students how to be good digital citizens
  • help kids become more self-aware and able to make better choices
  • help schools be more caring, safer and more supportive of student’s emotional needs
  • reduce behavior problems and increase student focus on learning
  • help student do their best and become who they truly want to be

Founded by Jim Watson, Ed Werz and Michael Pritchard, Heartland Media has been producing award-winning programs since 1996, including: LifeSteps, PeaceTalks and Saving Our SchoolsLearn more »

Jim Watson, Writer, Producer & Co-Director

Jim Watson is writer and award-winning producer and director of educational television and video programs. He has produced and directed six critically acclaimed Public Television series for kids of all ages, including LifeSteps, PeaceTalks Saving Our Schools, , You Can Choose!, Big Changes – Big Choices, and the current, Stepping On Up. These series have been highly acclaimed in the educational press and received many major awards including: the CINE Golden Eagle, the Parents’ Choice Gold Award, the Teachers’ Choice Award, and the Golden Camera Award at the US International Film and Video Festival.

In 1995, Mr. Watson founded Heartland Media with Michael Pritchard and Ed Werz. In 2001, he founded the Heartland Media Foundation, with Jack Boland of Baker Street Advertising and Mary Buttler, Assistant Superintendent of Marin County Schools.

Prior to his work in Heartland Media, Mr. Watson worked in documentary and non-profit filmmaking.

Michael Pritchard, Host

Michael Pritchard is a youth activist, humorist and Public Television host who is known by audiences across the United States for his ability to help young people gain insight into themselves.  Learn more »

Maurice J. Elias, Ph.D., Scientific Consultant

Maurice Elias is a Professor of Psychology at Rutgers University; Coordinator of the Internship in Applied, School, and Community Psychology; and Academic Director of Rutgers’ Civic Engagement and Service Education Partnerships program.  He also serves as Past President of the International Society for Community Research and Action/Division of Community Psychology (27) of APA, Director of the Rutgers Social-Emotional Learning Lab, P. I. for the New Jersey Department of Education-funded Safe and Civil Schools prevention initiative, and Founding Member of the Leadership Team for the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning.

Books include Emotionally Intelligent Parenting (2000), Bullying, Peer Harassment,and Victimization in the Schools: The Next Generation of Prevention (Haworth, 2003), the Social Decision Making/Social Problem Solving Curricula for Elementary and Middle School Students (2006,, The Educator’s Guide to Emotional Intelligence and Academic Achievement:  Social-Emotional Learning in the Classroom (Corwin, 2006), Bullying, victimization, bullying, and peer harassment:  A handbook of prevention and Intervention (Taylor & Francis, 2007), and Urban Dreams:  Stories of Hope, Character, and Resilience (2008, Hamilton Books).

Stepping On Up Video Credits

Written and Produced by Jim Watson
Directed by Andrea Snow and Jim Watson

Developed by Jim Watson
Scientific Consultant – Maurice J. Elias, Ph.D., Rutgers University, Department of Psychology
Teacher Consultant – Kathleen Harriman, San Francisco Unified School District

Cast & Crew

Michael Pritchard – As Himself
Zazi Voice – Millie DeBenedet
Zazi Puppeteers – Cherie Panek, Jesse Roadkill Wilson, Thomas John
Dieter Voice – Victor Toman
Dieter Puppeteers – Tim Giugni, Robin Stevens

Director of Photography – Tomas Tucker
Edited by Greg Sirota, Marta Wohl and Jim McSilver
Sound Design, Recording and Mixing – Philip Perkins
Music by Gina Leishman
Graphics by Michelle Bonsignore
Puppets by Keiko Shimosato Carreiro with Tiffany Tart and Jesse Roadkill Wilson

Set Design and Construction – Acme Scenery, Josh Koral
Set Graphic Designer – Michelle Bonsignore
Gaffer – Jon Fontana, Joseph Edward Scott
Video Engineer – Jim Rolin, Anthony Rosario
Camera Operator – Marsha Kahm
Camera Operator/Data Wrangler – Daniel Watson

Props/Makeup – Keiko Shimosato Carreiro, Cindy Rae Braman
Key Grip – John South, Joseph Edward Scott
Grip/Electric – Bill Fanning, Marshall Potter
Production Assistants – Julian Tucker, Benjamin Rolin, Kelly Lee, Nico Madrigal-Yankowski, Dean Surdis

Catering by Kass Kapsiak
Shot at Purebred Studios – Jason Mitchell
Video Equipment – Videofax
Still Photography – David Toerge
DVD Authoring  – Digital Revolution

Website Credits

Project Design – Abigail Fisher, Arque Creative
Graphic Design and Programming – Kristin Kramer, Kramer Publishing Interactive
Written by Jim Watson and Abigail Fisher
Original Graphics – Michelle Bonsignore
Still Photos – David Toerge

Special Thanks

We would like to thank The Kathrein Family for their love and support over the years.