AUSTIN (KXAN) — A local school is saying thank you to essential workers with a project inspired by its art teacher.

“Nothing you dream is impossible because — believe me when I tell you — in November this was just a dream,” said Nancy Hoover. “And now we have sent over 300 posters out to the community.”

Hoover is the art teacher at Girls’ School of Austin, which opened in 2002.

Hoover holds the original poster (KXAN/Todd Bailey)

The school is the city’s first independent school for girls, she said. Currently, it boasts 150 students in grades kindergarten through eighth grade.

Hoover’s students, pre-K through fourth grade, created more than 80 pieces of art for a project called “Thank You Frontline Heroes!”

The drawings acknowledged and celebrated a variety of essential workers: health care professionals, first responders, firefighters, police, teachers, grocery store workers, sanitation workers and more.

“What they’ve done and the way they’ve done it, has been with their whole heart,” Hoover said.

Due to the pandemic, she conducted “Zoom Art Workshops” with the students. Each worked on their drawing from a remote learning environment away from the school’s campus, located in Tarrytown.

The process started right before winter break and took about three weeks to complete. The drawings were compiled, photographed and put into an 18” x 24” poster, Hoover said. Copies were printed locally at Burks Digital Imaging.

The school distributed prints of the poster, both poster‐size and letter‐size, to students and their families with one specific request: they must give them away to real‐world frontline heroes they encountered.

Students signed the original poster (KXAN Photo/Todd Bailey)

Student reactions to giving

Many of the students have already given posters to certain essential workers in their lives.

Students Naima and Vera each drew a doctor and a firefighter. Vera also drew a police officer.

“To me, they’re really important,” Naima said.

“I think it’ll make them feel happy,” Vera said of her drawing. “I like how you are keeping our world and us safe.”

Fourth-graders Charlie, Maia, and Anishka spoke of the emotions from those who received their artwork.

“Making this poster is just a little way for us to say thank you,” Charlie said. She drew a waste management professional and someone who cleans schools.

“The cleaners, they’re keeping everything sanitized, so we can come to school every day. And imagine if you didn’t have a trash picker-upper? There would just be trash all over the place,” she continued.

Maia drew an H-E-B worker and a farmer. She mentioned she has an autoimmune condition and often shops for specific food when at the grocery store. This motivated her to focus on such professions.

“It means a lot to me, because if not, if we didn’t have these people working so hard, my condition would’ve been a lot worse,” she said. “They were like, ‘Oh my god, thank you so much! I haven’t received anything like this in my whole entire life.’ And I’m like, ‘You’re welcome!’ The manager was looking like he was about to cry though. I felt really happy with myself and I think that was one of the most exciting moments.”

She also gave one to her mom, whom she considers to also be an essential worker.

“I think art can change the world,” Maia said.

Anishka drew a farmer but gave her drawing to her family’s mail carrier.

“I was really grateful I got that opportunity and it meant a lot to me that I got to do that. And I love that I made that happen to him. I made him happy,” she said.

“Farmers don’t get as much credit and they do a lot of work, especially now, having to grow food for each person — a lot of people,” she continued.

In third grade, their class got to go on field trips to Urban Roots Farm in Austin, which impacted their perspective on farming.

“We saw just how much work they have to do to be able to get the food that grow to the supermarkets,” Charlie added.

“There’s numerous people that we all want to thank every single day and we don’t remember to, so this is a permanent sort of masterpiece, as it were, to share with the world and to thank you every day,” Hoover said.

Hoover hopes the posters go as far as the White House. Her school sent several to U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris in Washington D.C. to give to the National Public Health Team.

You can learn more about Girls’ School of Austin and its programs on its website.