Teacher jumps for children

Published 1:14 pm Friday, November 23, 2007

By By ERIKA PICKLES / Niles Daily Star
NILES – Kindergarten and first grade students at Ballard Elementary School enjoyed plenty of laughs Wednesday morning as one of their own teachers turned in his books for an hour of imagination and song singing.
Joel Thompson, who said he enjoys substitute teaching at Niles, is a creator for children's television programs and has written a series of children's books.
Currently, Thompson created two shows, Bloodhound, Inc. and CMJ Club Zone, which are aired nationally and internationally, drawing in around 2.5 million viewers.
"It's hard to say which stations pick them up, but I know some of the shows have been aired on ABC 57 (cable channel seven). But all the major cable networks pick them up, they change from city to city," Thompson said.
Along with the television shows, Thompson has a series of children's books, which include Sweet Dreams and Club Zone, which can be found in all major book stores.
"I like to teach children Christian values. It's important to teach them what's right and wrong and tell a great story in the process," Thompson said.
It was clear the children enjoy his stories as he performed live. He started his act by telling the story of a new kid at school, B.J. who only wanted to make new friends. After that, children sang songs like The Wheels on the Bus and others, and enjoyed more stories, which all taught valuable life lessons.
Thompson was born in New York and raised in Boston, Mass. He started his showbiz career on Broadway, where he had a main role in Jesus Christ Superstar. He has also been the writer and creator for many television commercials.
"I am always on the go. For the television shows, we are also filming at different locations all over the United States, so I'm away from home a lot. But when I'm not, I enjoy being at Niles Schools," Thompson said.
Thompson said he came to this area because his wife is from Grand Rapids. The two currently live in Berrien Springs.
"She is close to her family and I enjoy being here, especially teaching, so it all worked out," Thompson added.