Dear Mr. Kelsey

I have collected autographs for over 20 years. When I was in college I started writing to celebrities and asking them what they would tell a class of elementary school students. Over the years I have gotten over 200 letter and signed pictures to my students. I think that by these very busy people taking the time to share their thoughts with students, it shows the power of education. I hope you enjoy my collection

My Photo
Location: Washington, DC, United States

Smithsonian Air and Space Museum: Education Specialist for Digital Learning.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Doris Roberts: Actress - Everybody Loves Raymond

If you have ever watched the show Everybody Loves Raymond, then you know who Doris Roberts is. She plays Marie, the mom on the show. She has always been one of my absolute favorite characters. She sent a very sweet letter that says:

Be persistent and determined.
Enjoy and celebrate each small step of success, whether its succeeding in a game of sports or completing your homework that your proud of. Each small accomplishment leads to confidence and self esteem.

Good luck

Warmest Regards
Doris Roberts

Sofia Milos – CSI: Miami

Sofia Milos is an actress on the hit TV show CSI: Miami. On the show she plays a police officer. Doesn’t she have a cool looking signature? She not only sent a signed picture but also a great letter. The letter is pretty easy to read but the picture is hard to see. It says, “To the Manor Hill Elementary 5th grade students I wish you much love and success Sofia Milos” I think one of the coolest things about a letter from her is that she is a big time television star and she took the time to write a letter to students. I think that shows how important education is. Enjoy this letter.

Charlie Daniels – Country Music Star

If you like country music then you have heard at least one song from Charlie Daniels. He is famous for his fiddle playing and for the song The Devil Went Down to Georgia. He sent a very nice signed picture as well as a great letter. Here is what he had to say.

Dear Class

It is an honor to talk to you.

I hope that all of you are planning to finish school. I know that you hear this a lot but it’s one of the most important things you will ever do.

We live in the greatest nation the world has known, with great freedom and opportunities. Don’t let anybody convince you differently.

Things can be difficult at times but if you just keep trying you can win.

As for me, I am a Christian and my faith in God and Jesus Christ are the most important things in my life.

I wish you all success and happiness.

God Bless
Charlie Daniels

Survivor - Gervase Peterson

Do you remember when Survivor first came on the air? My family wasn’t really into it at first, then I stayed with some friends who were. We were eating dinner and someone looked at their watch and said, “Survivor starts in two minutes!” I have never seen a table cleaned off faster. I’m still not a huge survivor fan but occasionally I will watch it, and there have been a couple of seasons that I have gotten into. On the first season, it was such a new concept that everyone was hooked. One of the big moments that season was when Gervase had to eat rat. In his letter to students, he mentions this but also has some good advice.

I would tell your students to love and respect themselves and each other. I got teased about my name as a kid, but it never bothered me because I love my name and how it made me different. Listen to your teachers and pay attention in school. Knowledge is one thing that you will always have. If you get hurt playing sports or if Hollywood thinks you’re not “hot” anymore you always have your education to fall back on. No matter what you’re doing strive to be the best if it’s playing sports, taking a test or telling jokes. Even if you don’t end up being the best you can still be successful. Richard won Survivor so he’s the best (unfortunately). I didn’t but I’m still successful because I tried my hardest to be the best. Last thing my favorite have fun. No matter what you’re doing you should be having fun and enjoying yourself. Doing Survivor was so hard, but it was the best time of my life and I had so much fun. So good luck and remember this if I can survive the island with Rich walking around naked you can survive anything!


H. Norman Schwarzkopf – Four Star General

Even though you can’t read the signature on this letter, it is from a military giant. When I was in junior high, the United States began the first gulf war. During this war there were several people who became national heroes including Colin Powel, and the writer of this letter, General Norman Schwarzkopf. He was a four star general. I like how his letter uses his military background to give advice to fifth graders.

Peter Doctor - Director of Monsters Inc.

This is one of my favorite letters that I have received lately. Peter Doctor is a movie director that has done some amazing movies. Probably his most famous is the Disney, Pixar movie, Monsters Inc. He also directed the new movie Up. I have not seen this movie yet but I have heard that it is really good. One of the great things about this letter are the sketches he added at the bottom of Mike from Monsters Inc., and of one of the main characters from Up.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Robert David Hall: CSI Coroner

If you are a CSI fan, then you have seen Robert David Hall. He plays the coroner. He wrote a great letter and sent a cool signed picture. The picture is a little hard to see, it says, “To the GREAT students at Manor Hill Elementary School – Robert David Hall” I also love the postscript that added at the end of his letter. Here is what his letter has to say:

Dear Mr. Kelsey – Thanks for your chance to write to your students.

I decided to become an actor in the 5th grade. My teacher Mrs. Myers encouraged me to read and act in school plays. It’s not always important to be the star, but it’s crucial to always participate. The men and woman who end up with careers are usually the people who never give up and always keep learning. Some of the most important moments in my life were the Shakespeare plays I acted in for no money. Any career worth pursuing is a lot of hard work but it’s also a lot of fun.

Best wishes to you and all the students at Manor Hill Elementary

Robert David Hall, former 5th grade actor

Charles W. Lindberg - Flag Raiser at Iwo Jima

Charles W. Lindberg is a true American hero. He is one of the original flag raisers at Iwo Jima. This even has been immortalized by a statue in Washington D.C. He sent a very nice letter and autographed picture. I hope you enjoy this great military heroes letter.

Haven Moses – Denver Broncos

I am a Denver Broncos Fan. I have been since kindergarten. I honestly have not written to very many Broncos players in the past (although I did get a John Elway autographed helmet last week). Haven Moses is a Broncos Ring of Famer and was a great player for them in the 70’s. He sent a very touching letter that I have included the text of below:

Dear 5th Grade,
I am honored that your teacher, Mr. Kelsey, chose to write to me and ask for my thoughts. I am currently 53 years of age, probably ancient to most of you, and very thankful for the wonderful experiences that I’ve had during my lifetime, especially having the opportunity to play in the NFL for 14 years.

However, what I reflect upon the most was my upbringing and education, my parents taught me and my brothers and sister the importance of being a Good Person and to respect others and they made sure though many sacrifices that we received a good solid education and supported us in whatever we did. God Bless and have a wonderful 2000.
Haven Moses #25

Chris McCarron - Hall of Fame Jockey

I’m not a huge horse racing fan. I actually wrote to Mr. McCarron because one of my students loved horses. I knew he was a good jockey but I didn’t realize how good. He has ridden in over 34,000 races and has won over 7,000. That means that he has won over 20% of his races. I think this is a phenomenal number. He sent a short note on an index card as well as a signed picture. In the letter he said, “To the students, In pursuit of your reams, never say die, and always expect a BEST EFFORT from yourself. Chris McCarron”

Clint Black - Country Music Artist

Growing up my family listened to a lot of country music. I was a big fan of Marty Stuart and my brother was a Clint Black fan. I’ve seen Clint Black in concert (The Black and Wy tour at the state fair, if I remember correctly) and I got a chance to meet him once when he was doing a signing at a local Wal-Mart. My brother got a cowboy hat signed and I got a baseball. (That baseball also has Chely Wright, and Toby Keith on it). The letter from Clint Black is a little disappointing that it wasn’t signed but he did send a signed picture.

Beezie Madden – Olympic Equestrian

Bezzie Madden is a superstar in the Equestrian world. She is an Olympic athlete and was named the USOC Female Equestrian Athlete of the Year in 1989. She sent a great, long letter. In is she said:

Dear Mr. Kelsey,

Thanks for the letter. I hope I am getting back to you in a timely enough manor. I have been out of town for 7 weeks, so I apologize for the delay.

I think the best words of advice I can give kids is to try to find something in life that they have a passion for and try to make a goal or a career out of their passion. For instance, my passion is horses first and competition probably be second. I was lucky enough to have the talent to ride, but talent isn’t the only thing that makes me successful. Because I have a passion for horses and competition, I’m willing and happy to put the time and work into it that it needs. Working with horses means long hours and very few days off. They need constant care and scheduled exercise and training program.

Had I not had the talent for riding, I still could have focused on another career having to do with horses. Horse Show management would have still combined horses and competition. I could have been a teacher, trainer, veterinarian, chiropractor (for horses), or many other choices. Be creative – pick something you love to do and most likely you’ll be successful and happy in life. No matter what you choose, it’ll require hard work, lots of time and extra effort to be successful.
Hope this is what you are looking for. Glad to be of some help.

Beezie Madden

Football Hall of Famer, George Blanda

I always think that it is amazing when I get a letter from an athlete, someone who accomplished something without having to have an education mentions how important school is. This short letter is from Football Hall of Famer, George Blanda. In the letter he says, “Education – Hard Work, Discipline, Positive Attitude. Always “think win.” Learn from your mistakes and try not to repeat them. Practice, Practice, Practice = Luck. GB”

Jorge Garcia - Lost

While we are talking about Lost, here is another letter from Lost cast member Jorge Garcia who plays Hurley on the show. He sent a great letter on his letterhead, and a signed picture. Also, he has a great blog that is kind of off the wall but gives a little bit of the behind the scenes of being famous. You can visit his blog at:

Evangelline Lilly - Lost

If you watch the TV Show Lost, then you know who Evangeline Lilly is. I wrote to her not long after the show came out and she sent back this great letter and signed picture. As a side note, many of the cast members from Lost have been good through the mail autograph signers. I’m not reprinting the text of this letter because Evangelline Lilly has great handwriting.

George Kell – Baseball Hall of Fame

I was saddened to learn that George Kell had passed away. I was lucky enough to get to meet him once at an autograph signing, he was a very warm and gracious man. When I wrote to him he sent back this great letter as well as several of his baseball cards. In his letter he wrote:

Martin – I am honored that you would ask me to talk to your students – I have pictures of my days as a youngster and I wonder if I realized at the time if what an influence (our teachers) were on our classmates. We all have a great responsibility to our parents – our family and our fellow person – to be the very best example we can be. We will fail at times – but it just makes us a better person when we can get up off the floor – and know we are determined to be what we should be – “a leader – a person who sets the example.”

It’s not hard to do – It’s really easy and refreshing – and mke us proud of who we are.

I grew up in the “Great Depresson” of the 1930’s – money was hard to come by in my family – my father was a barber with limited income – but he had my mother and 3 sons all of whom worked at anything we could do – to help out. It planted in each of use – a sense of responsibility that we carry to this day. Be who you are – no more = be good – caring – love your parents and family – be in church – this is a must. I love you, George Kell

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Maya Lin

Maya Lin is a talented artist and architect. She is probably most well known for designing the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington D.C. When this was unveiled it was pretty controversial because of it's placement and in that it was significantly different from any of the other monuments or memorials in D.C. Having been to the Vietnam Wall, it is a very moving place. I can only imagine how my parents felt who lived during that time (Dad was in the military but didn't go to Vietnam). I've written to Ms. Lin at least a couple of times and I finally got a response. You can tell the letter took a while because it is addressed to my fifth graders, now I teach 7th grade. I think her words still resonate, even with older students.

In her letter she says, "To the fifth grade students of Manor Hill. I always loved school and feel that my studies have helped me so much in all my work. Find a subject that really interest you and go beyond what school required - it will help you and hopefully school will be something you really enjoy. Maya Lin"

For more information about Maya Lin you can visit her website at:

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Happy New Year and a Bunch of New Letters

Over the winter break, I had a chance to send out a bunch of letters to people asking what they would tell kids. These letters have been rolling back in and I am constantly amazed at the generosity of people and the power of education. The group of letters I sent out this time had a decidedly historic twist. I always love the time right after I send out a big batch of letters because going to the mailbox gets so much more fun. Instead of the usual junk mail, bills, and the occasional magazine, I love opening the mailbox to find a letter with my handwriting for the address (I always send a self addressed stamped envelope) and occasionally there will even be a package. I hope you enjoy reading these letters as much as I have enjoyed receiving them.
The first letter I wanted to share is an amazing one. John F. Babcock was born in 1900! He was born in Canada and enlisted into the army at the age of 15. He is the last remaining Canadian World War I veteran. He is one hundred and seven years old! I wrote to him and didn’t know if I would get anything back. Within two weeks I got back a great letter that is shown below and a great picture of him holding an American Flag with a Canadian flag in the background. In his letter he says, “Dear Mr. Kelsey Love your country love your family and always be honest. Sincerely, JF Babcock born 7-23-1900” Staying with the military theme, I got a letter back from Charles Albury. He was the co-pilot on the airplane that dropped the second atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan. The plane was called Bockscar. Mr. Albury sent a great letter (the text is below) as well as two pictures that he signed. The first was a picture of the Bockscar logo and the other was a picture of his airplane. His letter said, “Dear Class: I was one of many who served our great country after being attacked. First of all I am an American who loves his country as many other in WWII. There is no country greater than ours. God Bless America CD Albury”

Another really cool military letter that I got was from Morris Jeppson, he was the weapons officer on the Enola Gay, the airplane that dropped the first Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. Mr. Jeppson sent a really great letter where he even mentions the city I live in, Liberty. He says, “Dear Mr. Kelsey, I admire you for teaching your students American history and I respect your students for thinking about American history. The name of your city, Liberty, is the key word – Liberty means freedom – freedom of individuals and freedom for your country. Look back at your history and look ahead to make certain that you preserve your freedoms and protect the US in a world that is threatening them. And enjoy your lives ahead. Morris Jeppson” Everyone that knows me that I love science. That is one of the reasons why I really like this next letter. I wrote to James Russell. His name is one that most people won’t know but almost everyone has used his invention. He is the inventor of the CD. He sent a great letter that talks about invention. It is really hard to read so the text follows.
Hi students and Mr. Kelsey,
If you are a scientist or inventor, you may be able to disver something , or invent something that will help millions of people over the world. That can be very satisfying.
To be a scientist or inventor, you must study as much science, math, and history as you can – and you will find that these subjects will become very interesting.
When I opened my mailbox last Thursday, I had several letters, a lot of bills, a magazine and a package. I couldn’t remember ordering anything, and then I saw the return address label. Patty Wagstaff is a stunt pilot. She sent me a CD, a signed folder/picture thing (shown below) and she sent an additional 20 more folders and stickers for my class. She signed her picture, “TO Mr. Kelsey’s Class! Follow the path that makes you happy and end up where you belong! Patty Wagstaff”

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Baseball Players

While I am on a baseball kick, I thought I would include a bunch of other random baseball players that I have gotten letters from.

Future Hall of Famer: Goose Gossage

Goose Gossage was an increadible pitcher for the New York Yankees. He is probably most famous here in Kansas City for giving up a homerun to George Brett. I wrote to Mr. Gossage and got this great letter back. My guess is that he will soon be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
To: Mr. Kelsey’s Fifth grade class,
Work hard at all you do. You will be rewarded for all of your hard work. We think good things, and good things happen. We thingk bad things and bad things happen, it’s that simple.
Good Luck
Goose Gossage

Art Howe
Art Howe was the long time manager of the Houston Astros. I wrote to him to ask him to sign a baseball card for me. (My wife and I are trying to collect the entire 792 card set of 2004 Topps and get them all autographed. So far we have over 200) Mr. Howe signed my card and wrote a short not to the students.
Get your education!!
Art Howe

Pat Sheridan

Another project that I am working on is to get the autographs of everyone that was on the 1985 Royals team. That was the year they won the World Series. So far, I have a baseball signed by a big chunk of the team as well as baseball cards signed by two of them that have since passed away (Dan Quisnberry, and Dick Howser). I wrote to Pat Sheridan who was an outfielder for the Royals during that time. He signed my baseball cards and also sent a great letter. It reads:
Dear 5th grade,
The most important thing that could say would be hapy and thankful for what you have and strive to be the best you can be. Try to make a difference in someone’s life. Finish school and thank God for every day.
Thanks, Good Luck
Pat Sheridan

Carl Erskin

Carl Erskin was a great pitcher with the Los Angeles Dodgers. When I wrote to him back in 2001 he not only sent a great letter but several signed baseball cards of his own. In his letter he says:
Hello Martin and hello 5th graders –
You have been in the minor leagues so far in school – now you’re getting close to moving up to a higher classification – middle school then on to the high school – That’s the same way I went through baseball to get to the Dodgers.
Learn the fundamentals well – reading especially. When I got to the big league I found out the best players did all the little things very well – made few mistakes that cost a win.
Personally as a pitcher I had to make a decision on every pitche – making good discisions is alwo what you must do. Then just like a pitcher you must have good control – when you lose control (go with a bad crowd) you usually lose. Be a winner.
Carl Erskine

Michael Cuddyer

It is fairly rare to get a letter from a current major league baseball player. I wrote to Michael Cuddyer during spring training a couple of years ago and got a nice little letter back (and a couple of signed baseball cards). The letter says, “Play hard & dream big!”

Tom House

A couple of years ago my class wrote letters to baseball players as part of a big baseball unit that I taught. As a class we decided to write to Tom House. Mr. House had a very interesting career and is still very active in sports medicine. He was a very good major league pitcher and he was the guy that caught Hank Aaron’s 715th homerun. He was in the bullpen and when Hank hit the homerun it came right to Tom House. He later went on to become a pitching coach and worked with Nolan Ryan. In his letter he says:
Mr. Kelsey :
Thanks for the letter! It’s nice to know someone remembers me . . .
To answer your questions:
#1 My toughest hitter in the national league was Steve Garvey. In the American League it was Thurmon Munson.
#2 Catching Hank Aaron’s #715 was the most exciting part of my major league career. It got me in the Hall of Fame, Trivial Pursuit (the board game) and in many baseball books and readers.
#3 My hero when I was a 5th grader was (and still is) Sandy Koufax, a pitcher with the Dodgers.

Finally, if you have access to a computer check out my website . There’s some neat stuff on it.
Good Luck –

Mr. Hauk responded to my letter with a great short note, one that is especially poignant today with all of the steroid scandals. He said, “NO drugs – Must set goals and work and practice what you want. Ralph Houk”

Baseball Player and Author Jim Bouton

Jim Bouton had a successful major league career with the New York Yankees and went on to write several baseball books, including “Ball Four.” He also helped invent the chewing gum Big League Chew. Mr. Bouton sent a very interesting letter, especially in response to me asking him what advice he would give to students. He said, “Do not look up to other people. In most cases they are not heros* They are simply people who have mastered a particular skill *some of them can’t even spell.” I thought it was really interesting that he made a spelling mistake and caught it and pointed it out.

Preacher Roe

Preacher Roe was an outstanding pitcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers. From his letter it sounds like he is uncomfortable giving advice but he has some good things to say.
To Martin Kelsey
I am not very good at these things. I would say live a good clean life. Try to find a goal for what you want to do and try hard and be sure you learn how to say no.
Best wishes to you and all your students.
Preacher Roe

Kansas City Royal Mike Sweeney

I have gotten a chance to meet Mike Sweeney on several occasions, usually late at night after a Royals game. He almost always comes out and sign autographs. One night I had an 8X10 picture of him that I asked him to sign to students. He immediately took the time to ask me questions about my class and thank me for being a teacher. He signed the picture, “To Kelsey’s Class Never lose sight of your dreams! God’s many blessings. Mike Sweeney”

Dal Maxvill

Former major league shortstop and general manager Dal Maxvill sent a great letter where he laid out what he would tell students in 5 points. He says:
I would ell your 5th grade students to:
1. Stay in school – make plans for college
2. Stay away from drugs – only “losers” do drugs
3. Get involved in sports and other school functions
4. Listen to your teachers – they are your “roadmap” to a bright future
5. Communicate with your parents – they are the best friends you will ever have.
My best wishes and good luck to all of you – enjoy life!
Dal Maxvill

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Baseball Hall of Famers

I had an opportunity (and a snow day) to get a few of my baseball letters scanned so I thought I would put a few of them up on the blog.

Monte Irvin

I am excited because I get the opportunity to meet Monte Irvin in January. He is signing autographs at the Iowa Cubs Fan Fest in Des Moines. I will be traveling up there to get his autograph. He sent a great letter to the students.
Dear Boys and Girls:
To succeed in life –
1. Learn how to read
2. Learn how to express yourself
3. Learn how to figure
4. Live by the Golden Rule
Sincerely yours,
Monte Irvin

Bobby Doerr is a Hall of Fame second basemen who played with the Boston Red Sox. He responded to my letter with a great note that reads, “Think positively all the time. You can always turn something negative into a positive. Bobby Doerr”

Tommy Lasorda
Again, I had the opportunity to Meet Tommy Lasorda several years back when he was at the Negro League Legacy Awards. I can still remember watching him and Buck O’Neil telling stories. It was really a great night. I wrote to Mr. Lasorda way back in 1998, before I was a teacher (I was student teaching). He sent a great letter and it was even on Los Angeles Dodgers letterhead. You should be able to click on the image to be able to read the text.

Sparky Anderson
When I was a kid, I was able to get Sparky Anderson’s autograph on two or three different occasions. I was really happy when he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. He is a very kind and generous person. Mr. Anderson wrote a great letter to the students. In it he says:
Dear Kids
Just always remember life is wonderful. Don’t ever be afraid of it. We all have our ups and downs but really that’s the fun of the game.
But don’t ever forget these wonderful words my father taught me. The only thing in your while life that won’t ever cost you a dime and that is to be nice to everyone.
Sparky Anderson

Lee MacPhail was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1998 on the veterans ballot. He was a front office executive for the Yankees. He is one of the older Hall of Famers. In his note he says, “Enjoy school. Make Friends. Learn about your country, your town. Realize it is important to do well scholastically. Lee MacPhail”

Robin Roberts
I wrote to Robin Roberts several years ago and got this great letter back. I also had an opportunity to meet him a couple years back. It was pretty interesting. Usually when you go to a baseball card show the guys that are signing autographs come out, sign their autographs and leave. Mr. Roberts signed his autographs and then came out and watched the Chiefs game with everyone. They were showing it on a big screen and a group of 15-20 people had gathered around to watch. Pretty soon I look over and Robin Roberts had wheeled his chair out and was setting there watching the game. In my letter I had asked him what his favorite baseball memory was and what he would tell students. His letter says,
Marty –
Winning the pennant on the final day in 1950 against the Dodgers – for the Phillies.
Play different sports – Pick out your favorite and work hard.
Good luck – I’m enjoying playing golf and watching sports.
Sincerely,Robin Roberts