Yesterday, I watched as my heroes played in the leaves at the park. My heroes are the students in a special needs classroom at a school where I work. They were rolling around together and throwing leaves up into the air, laughing. I witnessed the perfect combination of a crisp fall day and the joy of children. My heroes were taking a break from being classmates and heroes in Mrs. German’s room.
A few weeks ago, I taught them about heroes. I taught them they are heroes. They are not super heroes wearing capes and masks. They are not decorated heroes from doing extraordinary things that make them stand out in other people’s minds. The are working heroes being role models of kindness, respect, helpfulness, and treating others like they like to be treated. Their teacher agreed and has created them a hall-of-fame for heroes where they are with the ranks of Gandhi, Mother Teresa, and Abraham Lincoln.
A couple of weeks ago, the leaf play would not have happened. The leaves had not fallen and the heroes were still in the making, understanding the simple truth of which they are ordinary students who have the ability to make choices that make them a part of the solution. They are working heroes. They have inspired my newest picture book manuscript Calling All Heroes.