Stations of Imagination - A Look at the History of this Community Event & Spotlight on the Johnston Family

Last Updated by Kate Spears on

Every parent dreams of seeing his or her child leave a lasting legacy on their community. For the Johnston family of Cookeville, this has happened in a way this is bittersweet. Sawyer Johnston was a joy-filled little boy, who loved Elmo and singing songs. Heartbreakingly, he passed away at just 18 months old. 

Even in the midst of their great heartache, Sawyer's parents Bryan and Rena Johnston set out to create an event that was a celebration for all children across the Upper Cumberland. They saw this as a way to honor Sawyer's life and the joy he brought to theirs. 

After conversations with Becky Magura, who was then station manager at WCTE, they decided to create Stations of Imagination. What began as a small event at Hyder Burke Pavillion has grown into a free community-wide celebration of PBS Kids programs, activities and characters for hundreds of children and their families. 

This will be the 21st year the family has celebrated the life of their precious Sawyer with Stations. As the SOI stage host, Cindy Putman shared that she has had the privilege of kicking off Stations with them for 16 years. "It's such a joy to see Sawyer's sister Baylor and a host of cousins, family and friends come on stage and sing some of Sawyer's favorite songs," she said. Tunes such as "He's got the whole world in His hands," "You are my Sunshine," and "This Little Light of Mine." 

Because of their commitment to Sawyer's legacy and their dedication to supporting this free, fun event for families, WCTE was proud to present the Johnston Family with our American Graduate Champion award. Check out this video to learn more

Each year the Johnston Family sponsors the Sesame Street Walkaround character and hundreds of kids and their families stand in line for a photo op with their favorite character.

This year, that character will be Walkaround Cookie Monster, and your family can meet him and have a photo during the following times on Saturday, Sept. 10th: 

  • 10:30 - 11 am
  • 11:30 - 12 pm
  • 12:30 - 1 pm
  • 3:30 - 4 pm
  • 4:30 - 5 pm

[Walkaround Cookie Monster is sponsored by The Johnston Family & Cumberland Auto] 

SOI would not be possible without the support of our Community Partners, as well as this year's newly added Kids Partners, who create booth activities that center around PBS kids programs.

WCTE, through its Community Collaboratives for Early Learning Media (CC-ELM) initiative, is bringing the TTU STEM mobile to SOI for the second year in a row. The TTU STEM Mobile will be opened for tours & RTL Interactive Transmedia Theater. WCTE will be distributing FREE PBS Kids Mobile Apps in the STEM Mobile. 

The Putnam County Library and Putnam County Schools Extended Learning Program, both CC-ELM members, will be on hand to provide fun family activities for everyone.

Plus representatives and volunteers from TTU as well as community helpers, children's dance and theatre groups, and volunteers will help us make sure everyone has a great time. 

But wait, there's more - This year at Stations of Imagination, WCTE will partner with the local Habitat for Humanity organization and have a special Bob the Builder™ booth where young learners will engage with hands-on building activities.

Don’t forget to come meet BOB THE BUILDER™ and join Team Bob on Saturday! From paving roads to building a whole new town from the ground up, there’s no challenge too great for Bob the Builder™ and his team. With a positive attitude, teamwork and problem-solving skills, Bob the Builder™ tackles any job! You and your family can meet Bob the Builder™ from 11:00 to 11:30 a.m., 12:00 to 12:30 p.m., 2:00 to 2:30 p.m. and 3:00 to 3:30 p.m. Be sure to bring your camera to capture the special day!

2016 Stations of Imagination will also have a Career Village sponsored by New York Life and Andrea Burckhard. WCTE Upper Cumberland PBS received a Community Impact Grant from New York Life to support a career exploration program for area 8th graders, using the PBS Road Trip Nation program and curriculum.  

WCTE will have an information booth on Jefferson for schedules, maps, and additional information about the event.

See below or click here for full Stations of Imagination schedule lineup:

WCTE Stations of Imagination 2016 Schedule

Friday, September 9, 5-9pm on Jefferson & Broad

5-6pm - TTU Cheer & Dance teams w/ Awesome Eagle
6-9pm - Silent Disco hosted by WCTE & sponsored by Lenny & Eva
7-8pm -  Film screening hosted by WCTE and sponsored by Cumberland Caverns

Saturday, September 10, 10am - 5pm on Fall Fun Fest Main Stage

Hosted by WCTE's Cindy Putman & Carrie Jones

10:00am - Johnston Family (stage)
10:30am - Stage One Dancers (street)
11:00am - Monterey High School Theater Department (stage)
11:30am - Cookeville Leisure Services Dancers (street)
12:00pm - Cookeville Children's Theater  (stage)
12:30pm - Centre School for Dance (street)
1:00pm - Prescott South Middle School (stage)
6-9pm - Silent Disco hosted by WCTE & sponsored by Lenny & Eva
7-8pm -  Film screening hosted by WCTE and sponsored by Cumberland Caverns

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Taping January 31 & February 7 @ Derryberry hall on TTU's campus

WCTE's Stations of Imagination at Fall FunFest

WCTE's Stations of Imagination at Fall FunFest

Friday, September 11th from 5pm - 9pm Saturday, September 12th from 10am - 9pm on the Cookeville Square

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WCTE’s Educational Team can customize workshops or professional development trainings for your group or organization. For workshop information, or to inquire about scheduling a workshop, call 921-528-2222 x. 227 or email us.

Topics are listed below:

  • Using Media as a learning tool
  • Using PBS kids apps to extend learning
  • How to be your child’s first teacher
  • Sesame Street Workshops
  • How does poverty effect a child’s brain
  • Literacy and Math
  • Brain Development

Workshops can be conducted in English and Spanish.