89: My Kindergarten Hero

89: My Kindergarten Hero

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inspiration for Teachers

My Kindergarten Hero

Growing up is losing some illusions, in order to acquire others.

~Virginia Woolf

We had just completed a unit on community heroes, and I had given my kindergarten class an assignment to write or draw about their favorite hero. Each child was busy creating colorful masterpieces adorned with fire helmets and shiny police badges. Several students had chosen to draw larger-than-life brothers and sisters or moms and dads. I even had a family pet barking at me from one table in the back of the room.

However, one little boy was having difficulty with the assignment. Cameron had touched my heart early in the school year. He had dark brown hair and wore his thick-rimmed glasses just a little crooked. He resembled a younger version of Harry Potter at best. He often snorted when he laughed, and the rest of the class would laugh along with him.

Cameron was on the autism spectrum, but that didn’t matter to me or his classmates. We all loved him just the way he was. He was full of wonderful stories and brought a special feeling to our classroom. I sat and watched as Austin, a precocious little boy with freckles, worked with Cameron. Austin had a wonderful way of interacting with Cameron, and he helped him find his hero. Within a few minutes, Cameron quickly began scribbling blue lines and curves on his paper — he was particularly fond of the color blue.

Finally, it was time for everybody to share their hero pictures. I listened as each student proudly stood in front of the class, picture held high, and described his or her hero. Maddie’s daddy was a policeman with the K-9 unit. She shared how her daddy and his dog helped catch bad guys. Cory’s dad was a football coach, and he helped kids get big and strong and win lots of games. Even Mark, who was very shy, held up a larger-than-life picture of his mom and spoke just above a whisper as he shared how she was his hero because she always took care of him. Next, Amanda shared how her dad was brave because he checked inside her closet and under her bed every night to make sure there were no monsters.

I listened intently to each student’s description of his or her hero. Several students even elaborated by giving their heroes superhuman strength, but I learned early in my career you don’t mess with creativity.

It was finally Cameron’s turn to share his hero. Cameron stood up and anxiously placed his large blue stick-figured drawing in front of his face. He then quickly blurted out it was a picture of me. He added that I helped him learn things and then quickly sat back down. Tears began to form in the corner of my eyes, but nothing could have prepared me for what happened next.

When Austin stood up to share his picture, I was certain it would be a policeman, but he surprised me when he proudly held up a picture of his friend Cameron. He shared that Cameron was his hero because he had this sickness that made it really hard to learn, but he was like Superman and was really smart. He had drawn a red cape on his cartoon-like picture of Cameron and embellished the costume with a large red “C” on Cameron’s chest.

The tears were now making their way down my checks, but were suddenly cut off in mid-stream. Cameron abruptly stood up, and put his arms up in the air as if he were going to take off and fly. He gleefully yelled out, “I’m Superman!” The entire class stood up and began striking Superman poses, too. Within minutes, we were all laughing as though we had each truly discovered the secret of becoming superheroes.

If only adults could see the world through the eyes of a child. What had started out as a simple lesson on community heroes had turned into a moment that changed my understanding of what it truly means to be a teacher. Teachers are tasked with a very important job, leading their children in discovering their own amazing qualities and helping them find their inner superhero.

If you should ever visit my classroom, you may find the corner of a red cape peeking out from the locker in the corner of the room. Hey, you never know when the next superhero may learn how to fly in my classroom.

~Melissa Monteith

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