by KIM HILSENBECK
When Kelly Posey went to The Natural Gardener, an organic-focused nursery in southwest Austin, not long ago, something caught her eye. It was a concrete sphinx.
Posey, a librarian at Blanco Vista Elementary, thought it would go perfectly with her Africa theme at school. But at $80, Posey knew it was out of her price range, especially after having spent her own money to decorate the library.
So Posey took a chance and wrote a letter to one of her heroes, John Dromgoole, owner of the store where she saw the sphinx. Dromgoole is also host of “The Natural Gardener” show, heard weekends on KLBJ AM talk radio.
“He’s my big-time hero,” Posey said.
“For one thing, he started the chemical drop-off program in Austin,” she said. “He’s also the one who inspired me to put out little trays of water for what he calls ‘wee creatures’ in my backyard during the drought.”
When Dromgoole wrote back and agreed to help with her request, Posey said she was elated.
“He came down to the school to donate the sphinx,” Posey said. “It was a huge thrill to meet him.”
That experience led her to create an essay contest for Blanco Vista students.
“Kids need some inspiration,” Posey said.
So with the green light from Principal Rebecca Shea, she rolled out the “Who is your Hero?” essay contest. While it wasn’t required, Posey said she got about half the students to submit an entry. She wanted the kids to focus less on the writing – the spelling, punctuation and grammar – and more on the passion and writing from the heart on this essay.
“I wanted them to tell me why their hero is their hero. Not just, ‘President Lincoln was the 16th president,’” Posey explained.
The winners would get a writing journal to keep practicing their craft.
She and the other librarians culled through the essays and found what they felt were the best ones across the grades.
Carlos Sanchez, 9, knew right away his hero would be Jackie Robinson, the first African-American baseball player in the United States.
“He’s my hero because he was the first African-American to make the Hall of Fame,” Carlos said.
In his essay, he wrote, “Jackie Robinson inspires me to make a change in the world and to be a better student.”
Wren Gillfillan, 7, said her hero was Helen Keller.
“She never gave up,” Wren said. “She was very helpful until she was very old.”
Angela Lopez, 11, has considered trying to become president one day.
“But there were never any lady presidents,” she wrote.
She selected Barack Obama as her hero because, as she wrote, “If an African-American man can be president why can’t there be a lady Hispanic president?”
Posey thinks Angela is well on her way to being a leader; she has already organized a petition to get a bench and water fountain outside the school and helped raise more than $450 for the Bastrop wildfire victims last year.
Kaunli Hehr, 9, named her mom and dad as her heroes because they adopted her and her sister from China two years ago.
“When they got me I am really sad because I miss my China family,” she wrote, “but when I come here they love me, too.”
The most poignant winning entry was by Gabby Torres, 10, who wrote that her godmother is her hero.
“She is my hero because she acts like everything is fine. She takes every day with calm. She keeps trying to beat cancer,” Gabby wrote. “Once I heard her say that she loved her life, her family and friends.”
Posey said she is proud of all the Blanco Vista students who submitted an essay.
- Royal Reading Society at Blanco Vista 05/23/2012
- Africa comes to life at Blanco Vista 05/24/2013
- Essay en Español earns Blanco Vista student trip to Denver 01/27/2010