Former horticulture teacher at Ennis High School Kelly Boston was taken suddenly in a tragic car crash on July 29, 2016, in Fairplay, Colorado. But he left this life much the same way that he lived it every day.
Boston, his immediate family (wife Penny and daughters Addy and Rylee Boston), had gathered his mother-in-law, father-in-law, and other extended family members for yet another one of their crazy Boston family summer adventures at one of their favorite places on earth (Colorado). The four loved camping, fishing, hiking, and playing silly family games. That year, they had even made a treasured family video to the background music from the “Trolls” - “Can’t Stop the Feeling” by Justin Timberlake.
But the Boston family adventure would never happen again, as Kelly lost his life at age 47 that late summer afternoon.
What lives on instead is Boston’s zest for life and his passion of helping students at Ennis High School. He taught the subject of horticulture for 24 years at EHS, but his student involvement stretched further than the classroom walls and his outside greenhouse. He was responsible for initiating the at-risk mentoring program for the school district and considered his “job” his primary mission field for the God he loved and served. He lived every day with purpose and compassion for others. Boston had plans that upcoming school year to further the mentoring program to reach even more students, who would benefit from having someone in their corner.
The popular teacher also began a school ministry of sorts by taking in a tiny closet in his classroom, where he would confidentially help students whose names were mentioned to him for possible assistance. Everything in his closet was free to students in need, no questions asked: Students were able to “shop” for things they might not be able to afford otherwise.
After Boston’s untimely death in 2016, some of the high school staff took it one step further. They moved “the closet” to a vacant book room next to the front office of the campus. Then another “closet” was created at the junior high. These “closets”, which were the brain child of Boston, are now stocked full of food, school supplies, some personal items, school-approved clothing, and more. These pantries (formerly called “closets”) are now affectionately called “Boston’s Market” at EHS, and “Boston’s Market, Jr.” at Ennis Jr. High School.
Boston was also actively involved with extracurricular activities with Ennis ISD, because that’s where “his kids” were. When he couldn’t be found at home, at an Ennis sporting event or at the high school greenhouse, it was likely Boston was on the dam at nearly Lake Bardwell, trying to catch a five-pound bass. He often chose to fish alone, because he admitted that was his “quiet time” with his Heavenly Father.
So, even after his death almost four years ago, Kelly Boston’s greenhouse full of plants and other garden sundries continues to grow and flourish because of his legacy.
In addition, Boston’s wife and daughters came up with a plan to incorporate the late teacher’s desire to stay involved with Ennis students and help those in need. As a result, Boston’s family initiated the “Give and Grow Scholarship” Foundation, awarding scholarship money to EHS students. Since 2017, a grand total of 26 scholarships have been awarded in Boston’s name.
The following are some of the 26 “Give and Grow Scholarship” recipients:
• Gwen Lefler is a full-time student at Abilene Christian University, Abilene, Texas, and she is in her second semester of nursing school;
• Juliette Curry graduates next spring with a Marketing degree from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas;
• Alex Johnson is about to graduate with his Associates degree in Business from Navarro College, Corsicana, Texas;
• Miah Washington is a full-time student at Prairie View A&M, Prairie View, Texas, and she is set to graduate in the spring of 2021 to become a school teacher;
• Ashley Slovacek is in her second semester of nursing school at the University of Texas at Arlington, Arlington, Texas;
• Justin Spaniel will be graduating on May 4 from Texas State Technical College (“TSTC”) in Waco, Texas, with his A&P certification in Aviation Mechanics and hopes to become an employee of Southwest Airlines in the near future;
• Sydnie Martinez is finishing up her third year at Texas A&M in College Station, Texas, and will begin teaching in the spring of 2021. She will also be applying for graduate school to get her Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction;
• Evan Moreno is currently a junior at the University of Texas in Austin, Texas. He is majoring in Human Dimensions of Organization, with a minor in Business;
• Daisy Cate is a full-time mom, wife, employee at Carver Early Childhood Center and student at Texas A&M Commerce, Texas. She attended Navarro College first, but now is in her second semester at Texas A&M – Commerce;
• Morgan Hopkins has been accepted to nursing school at Texas Tech in Lubbock, Texas for the summer of 2020.
The scholarships were awarded to the following students for the graduation year of 2018:
• Sergio Artea is a full-time student at Navarro College in Corsicana, Texas;
• Jada Johnson is a fourth semester student at Texas Tech in Lubbock, Texas. She plans to become a school teacher;
• Austin Cerventes is in his second year at Schreiner University in Kerrville, Texas. He is playing on the men’s tennis team there while working on his degree;
• Kaleigh Wright is a full-time student at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. She is majoring in Communication Sciences and Disorders, and she also wants to obtain a Master’s degree in Speech Language Pathology;
• Josh Watson recently graduated from Basic Training as a soldier in the U.S. Army;
• Odalys Chairez has been taking 15+ hours each semester since she graduated from Ennis High School in 2018. She is hoping to get approved for nursing school soon;
• Emma Howard is finishing-up her last semester at two-year McLelland Community College in Waco, Texas and will graduate in May. She plans to continue her education at Stephen F. Austin in Nacogdoches, Texas;
• Jason Elliott is currently a student at Texas State Technical College (“TSTC”) in Waco, Texas. He will be graduating in December with an Associate’s degree in Automotive Technology.
The final two recipients from the graduation year of 2019 are:
• Tiana Murray-Lewis is a full-time student at Navarro College in Corsicana, Texas;
• Mallori Suarez is currently a student at Texas Women’s University in Denton, Texas, where she made the Dean’s List last semester. She is part of the College of Nursing program.
Boston’s wife, Penny Boston Hollywood of Ennis, explains how she and her daughters Addy and Rylee spearheaded the effort to raise the initial funds for the “Give and Grow Scholarship” program: “We had a huge community-wide benefit in the spring after Kelly died in 2016. The inaugural year of giving out scholarships (2017) was greater than what we could have even imagined. The Boston family was very successful with both live and silent auctions, a benefit dinner and dance.
“The first event raised nearly $40,000, which got us off to a great start. It laid the foundation for the scholarship program to grow in the future. Obviously, we were able to give the greatest number of scholarships that initial year (2017). Since then, however, we’ve tried a benefit golf tournament and several Facebook fundraisers in place of family members’ birthdays,” she said.
For those interested in donating items to the “Boston’s Market” pantries: With Ennis schools being closed at the present time due to COVID-19 restrictions, they can’t take drop-off donations. However, monetary donations can be made to the “KB Give & Grow Foundation,” which supports the “Boston’s Markets” and the scholarship foundation. To give, access Venmo (the “app”) and the profile name is @giveandgrow . Checks can be mailed to “Give & Grow”, 322 Cane Rd, Ennis, TX 75119.