This year I put up some framed 8 X 10s in my classroom. Seven pictures of seven of my heroes. (I have more, but I have limited wall space.)
And they are:
John Reynolds Gardiner
If you have not read his book--Stone Fox--a children's book that is only about 100 pages, you should run out right now and borrow it from the library or buy it. Every year I use it, I cry (even though I swear I won't cry this time). He spoke once to a group of teachers and confessed that when he sent it to his editor, there were 138 mistakes (spelling/grammatical). That proves to me that the power of the story is victorious over everything else.
Mae Jemison was the first African American woman into space, which is incredibly impressive all by itself, but I look up to her more because of the little girl she used to be. One of her teachers (kindergarten? first grade?) asked the students what they wanted to be when they grew up. Mae said, "I want to be a doctor." Her teacher said, "Don't you mean nurse instead of a doctor? Don't you want to be a nurse instead?" Mae matter-of-factly replied, "No, I want to be a doctor."
She became a doctor...and then an astronaut. So there!
My other on-the-wall heroes are: Nikki Grimes, Jackie Robinson, Anne Lamott, Emily Dickinson and Jesse Owens. (I had trouble narrowing them down to seven and had to make sure all of them were appropriate for children. Otherwise Vince Gilligan would certainly have a place on the wall, but there is no way I could explain the exquisite beauty of Breaking Bad to eight-year olds. No way.)
As I'm writing this, I realize how many of my heroes are nose-thumbers. Perhaps not John Reynolds Gardiner, and I don't know about Nikki Grimes, but I imagine Anne Lamott has thumbed her nose at someone at some point in her life, and although he never did it in public, I'm hoping Jackie Robinson mentally made some gesture with a finger or thumb. I'm impressed with Jesse Owens' athletic accomplishments (they're wicked impressive, after all), but the nose he thumbed--aimed at Hitler--is what makes me look up to him in such awe.
I'm going to ask you the same question I'm asking of my students: Who are your heroes?