By JOE JAROSZ
April 23, 2014
KANSAS CITY, Missouri – There’s a chance you’ve visited the museum or arena that bears his family name.
But how much do you know about Library Director Crosby Kemper III? As students at Gladstone Elementary researched, they found out a lot about the man they nominated as Gladstone’s School Hero for 2013-14 school year.
In its 12th year, the Hero Program at Gladstone Elementary celebrates the life of local individuals who have made an impact on the Kansas City community. Past heroes students have celebrated included Oliver Gates and Diana Rojas. On Thursday, April 17, the school held a ceremony in its auditorium honoring Kemper with dances, stories and songs.
Kemper, who was modest following the two-hour ceremony, said he was skeptical at first to accept the honor of hero to the students. But, after careful consideration and past involvement in the program, he said he was glad he accepted the honor.
“I don’t deserve this. Very few people deserve this honor,” Kemper said at the reception following the ceremony. “The kids did a spectacular job with the ceremony and I’m glad I can be a model for them.”
Along with the Kemper Arena and the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, the name is also associated with banking in Kansas City. Born and raised in Kansas City, Kemper has also served as chairman and CEO of Kansas City-based UMB Financial Corp.
Gladstone vice principal Missie Condit, herself a past hero recipient, said the year-long program is to instill upon the children that ordinary people can do extraordinary things. Kemper was selected this year, she said, because the Kansas City Public School district focus this past year was literacy.
“It made sense to honor him because of his passion for reading,” Condit said.
Since joining the Kansas City Libraries as director nearly 10 years ago, Kemper has been an advocate of reading. Between visiting Gladstone and having students visit his office at the downtown library location, he would often get asked what he is reading. His favorite part of being honored was visiting Gladstone and speaking with the children.
“Whenever they would visit, they had so many questions,” Kemper said. He added, that on one occasion, he joined them on a field trip to the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art. He had the children pick the paintings they liked best and come up with question for him and museum staff about the paintings.
“Getting to know these kids was amazing,” Kemper said. “One of the things I took away from this was how great these children are. There’s a lot of good being done at this school.”
Condit said through school programs and by interacting with Kemper for the past few months, children have been reading more.
“We always tell them [the students] that you can go anywhere with a book,” Condit said.