Middleburg, FL

Middleburg RideOut Elementary student featured on The Kelly Clarkson show

Zoey Fields

A RideOut Elementary school student was a guest on The Kelly Clarkson Show Thursday, Dec. 1, sharing her unique experience with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.

The Middleburg first-grader, Rosie, was medically fragile as a newborn, and later diagnosed with Septo-optic dysplasia, her mother Liz Williams, a Clay County District Schools ESE Parent Liaison, explained on Clarkson’s show.

They knew right away she was blind, she said. Rosie’s pediatricians were unsure if Rosie would survive the condition, questioning whether she would ever be able to walk or talk.

Rosie alongside her mother, Liz Willians, and singer-songwriter Dolly Parton on The Kelly Clarkson show.Photo byThe Kelly Clarkson Show

However, at 8 months old, Rosie began humming along, in tune to Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On,” Williams said. It was then that they believed she might be gifted, she said.

Around the same time, Rosie began receiving books in Braille from Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. She learned pre-Braille and Braille, and was reading and writing before most seeing children read and write print, Williams said.

Only about 10% of blind children have the opportunity to be Braille literate, she said.

Rosie had the opportunity to sing with Kelly Clarkson and Dolly Parton on the show. Originally, they chose “Amazing Grace,” but Rosie quickly told them she would prefer to sing “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.”

The Clay Education Foundation and Delta Kappa Gamma, an international society promoting the professional and personal growth of women educators and excellence in education, helped bring Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to Clay County.

Dolly Parton's Imagination Library is in Clay County’s 32043 and 32073 Zip codes to promote early literacy for children who can receive one book per month for free from the time they are born up to 5 years old, Education Association Vice President Heather Obermiller said

Books are shipped directly to the child’s home. Click here to register a child for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.

Delta Kappa Gamma did the initial fundraising and approached the Clay Education Foundation to be their nonprofit partner in bringing the Imagination Library to Clay County.

“Since becoming official in March 2022, our Imagination Library affiliate has registered 980 children to receive free books in the mail,” Obermiller said. “Registered children receive ‘The Little Engine that Could’ their first month and then an age-appropriate book mailed directly to their house every month until they turn 5 years old.”

Currently, any child under the age of 5 residing in the 32043 and 32073 Zip codes is eligible to register.

If anyone is interested in donating, it costs $26 to provide one child with books for a year. Click here for those interested in donating.

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Accredited journalist with experience covering a wide range of stories consisting of breaking news, city and county government, crime and courts, feature stories and local interest. Facebook Bulletin writer, reporter; The Learning Curve. Twitter: @zoeyfields0

Jacksonville, FL

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