Waylon Jennings first recorded “My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys” in 1976 and then Willie Nelson made it even more popular in 1980. I always liked the song, but I’m not sure I could call myself a cowboy.
Come to think of it, I’ve had maybe two pairs of boots in my lifetime and I did ride horses in my younger days, but that’s about as close as I’ve come to being a cowboy much less a hero. I do know, however, that I’ve had more than a few heroes of my own.
This morning I followed one of my heroes to their place of work. I’ve dropped in on her work many times over the last three decades. This hero is a teacher. This hero is my wife.
In some respects I guess Sarah was destined to be a teacher. Following in the footsteps of her educator father and possessing an innate ability to make learning fun, I’ve been amazed at Sarah’s day-after-day, year-after-year commitment to help a child blossom.
Teaching is hard work. It’s lesson plans and grading papers. It’s managing a room full of children who come from various backgrounds that are not left behind when they get to school. It’s managing a room full of children, each of whom needs care and love and attention.
But teaching is also a calling that can be immensely rewarding. Although I don’t think they’ll ever be paid on a scale commensurate with the investment they are making in the future of our world, teachers are almost always working for something more than the paycheck.
I saw that again today as Sarah welcomed her new fourth graders at DuPont Elementary. Nervous students were brought to the door by a parent or a grandparent where they were greeted by a real, live hero.
As I began to make my way toward the door, Sarah said, “This is Mr. Johnson. He’ll be out here to see us every now and then.”
Not all the students had yet arrived, but when I said I wanted to take a couple of photos, Sarah told the children to line up and “pose.” She was already gathering her new classroom family together and it was a beautiful thing.
I do plan to be out there to see her class every now and then. Fortunately, for Sarah’s students, she’ll be there every day.