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Local teacher remembers meeting Barbara Bush as a child

Posted at 11:09 PM, Apr 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-22 17:35:57-04

On the day Barbara Bush was laid to rest, a southwest Florida teacher is remembering the time she met the former first lady in Naples.

Kristyn Stetson won a writing contest when she was a third grader at Naples Park Elementary.

She has an album filled with pictures and mementos from the time she met Barbara Bush, her husband, President George H.W. Bush, and their son Jeb Bush, who was Governor of Florida at the time.

"I knew it was a big deal, getting to meet a bunch of people. I got to skip school for the day to do it, and I got all dressed up. It was a really big deal," Stetson said.

Stetson said she was always interested in the environment and how to protect it.

"I just learned about tubeworms a few weeks earlier in a newspaper article, so I decided that would be a perfect thing to write about," Stetson said.

She named her book "Teresa and Tommy Tubeworm." It shares an environmental message about kids helping tubeworms living under the Gulf of Mexico clean up the garbage there.

When Stetson won the award, she met Barbara Bush, George H.W. Bush, and Jeb Bush. But she said Barbara made the biggest impression.

"When I met her, I was really nervous before. But after, I remember telling my mom she's just like a grandma. She just embraced me and made me feel really comfortable, and I think reading more about her, that was really what she was known for --  being a people-person and including everyone," Stetson said.

The Bush family took home one of Stetson's books, and a short time later, she got a letter in the mail from Barbara, saying in part "We liked the pictures, we liked the story, and the fact that you care about the world we live in."

Bush was always known as a champion of literacy, something Stetson learned when she met her in 2003.

Stetson is now a teacher at Sea Gate Elementary in Naples.