In the mid-1970s, while she was studying library science in her home town of Chicago. and working at the library, Paulette Ansari saw a performance by noted North Carolina storyteller Jackie Torrance. "I was inspired -- I thought, 'I could do that!" says Ansari, who began telling African folk tales to kids along a bookmobile route. "I found I could hold their attention." With two young children in tow after her graduation, she and her husband Abbas fled Chicago's crime and violence in 1981 to follow her cousin Henry Luvert to Eugene. She was the first African-American teacher hired in Springfield when she started at Springfield High in '82. After 12 years at Briggs Middle School, she currently serves in her seventh year as librarian and teacher at Mt Vernon Elementary, where she taps her sudents' artistic talents annually to commemorate the Martin Luther King holiday. Ansari has built a reputation as a teller of African and African-American stories -- she frequently performs in area schools, community centers and parks. Look for performances at the public libraries in Eugene and Springfield during the month of January.