Dr. David Polnick, Rob Westman, Dr. David Young

Thanks to a generous donation from retired superintendent Dr. David Polnick, every library in Abilene ISD now has a copy of George Washington: Providence, a book penned by AISD’s own TV producer Rob Westman.

Dr. Polnick, who served as superintendent from 2003-2010, purchased and donated the books in memory of his late wife, Mary Ann, who taught in AISD for more than 30 years.

“I have watched Rob work on this book for a long time,” Dr. Polnick said. “He put his heart and soul into this creation. When he was almost done and I saw a draft of this book, I told Rob that I would purchase a book for each of Abilene ISD’s LRCs. The book is fantastic in its wording, artwork and photography.  It is a great resource for any library and readers of all ages.”

Rob in front of Carpenter’s Hall in Philadelphia.

Westman’s profile of the first president, written for younger readers yet embraced by adults as well, is accompanied by the colorful paintings of local artist Kay Walton.

“I was motivated to write this book after I read No. 1 national best seller, Sacred Fire, by Dr. Peter Lillback and Dr. Jerry Newcombe,” Westman said. “The purpose of this family book, George Washington Providence, is to accurately present George Washington’s life based on his own words and testimonials from his contemporaries.”

Mary Thompson and Rob standing in the Fred W. Smith National Library at Mount Vernon – holding up 4 fingers for Washington’s favorite Bible verse – Micah 4:4.

Researching and studying the life of George Washington has been a passion for Westman for many years. He also produced a video documentary by the same name which made its debut in 2016 at Abilene’s Paramount Theater.

“I began my research in 2012,” Westman said. “It was truly inspiring and a blessing to travel to these preserved landmarks and historic sites. I became good friends with Mary Thompson, the research historian at Mount Vernon. And this past February, Dr. Lillback came to Abilene to speak at the Paramount Theatre, Hardin-Simmons and Pioneer Drive Baptist Church.”

He is honored to have is book included in AISD libraries.

Back in the Special Collections and Archives section of the library, Rob is shown here pointing at Washington’s personal copy of Don Quixote that he picked up on the same day he signed the Constitution.

“I am so grateful to Dr. Polnick for his friendship and generosity,” Westman said. “Mary Ann was a tremendous teacher and role model in our district and her legacy continues to inspire.”

Dr. Polnick had a special reason to donate the books in his wife’s memory.

“My wife, Mary Ann, was a 30-year plus teacher in AISD,” he said. “She loved her students and wanted them to continually improve as a respected individual in heart, soul and mind. She wanted them to be successful. She knew that the love of reading was key to learning. By donating these books to our LRCs, I hope to share her love of reading to others and in this small way honor her for her years of teaching in AISD.”

Both Dr. Polnick and Westman believe Washington’s life story brings a message suited for all readers, but particularly to young students.

Rob and Dr. Peter Lillback standing in front of the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia.

“I hope that our students, along with our faculty and staff, will take time to learn more about the individuals who make our nation great and be inspired to keep our history alive in their hearts and minds,” Polnick said. “Hopefully everyone who picks up this book will realize what they can achieve and follow Rob’s great example of what can be accomplished by hard work and perseverance to any project in their lives.”

Added Westman, “Washington spent most of his life in service to our country, but he really just wanted to be a surveyor and farmer. So the message to our kids is that each one of us has a hero inside. And we can chose to use our time and talents to give and contribute to our society. George never gave up, but perhaps his most important lesson to us is that he chose not to become king – subsequently teaching us the peaceful transition of power.

“It is impossible to not be inspired by God’s fingerprints in human history.”