One day after school I heard the secretary announce over the intercom that I had a phone call.
When I picked up the phone the male voice said, “Hello, Mrs. Young, this is Adam. Fourteen years ago I was your student. You probably don’t realize how influential you have been to me in my life. If it wasn’t for the extra help that you gave me when I was in fifth grade, I don’t think that I would be the person I am today. Now I work as a television production manager in Los Angeles. I’m truly grateful.”
It was a moment that I’ll never forget. After we finished talking I walked back to my classroom and looked at the copy of a law school diploma and a letter that were posted on a small bulletin board above my desk.
“I was your student two decades ago and I’m writing to thank you for helping and ultimately allowing me to cope with my learning disability. You boosted my confidence and instilled in me skills that I use today. I don’t believe that I could have achieved my law degree without your early aid.”
There was also a thank you card from the parent of a former sixth grade student.
“You taught our daughter that kids with learning disabilities do not need to be ashamed of their weaknesses. My daughter now holds her head up high, works hard to overcome her weaknesses, and looks forward to tackling the next obstacle life brings.”
Teachers across the country have saved similar messages thanking them for making a difference in the lives of their students. A mentor can also be a parent, grandparent, neighbor, sibling, counselor, friend, coworker, or coach. The encouragement of a mentor improves a person’s self-esteem. A mentor motivates someone to persevere and never give up. A mentor can also provide a safe and nurturing environment for someone.
Round Table Companies plans to create a comic book in which the characters are based on real life heroes. People who are involved with “The Crusaders” comic told me about one of their mentors.
- Corey said that his college instructor held him to a high level of accountability. Graham accepted nothing less than brilliance from him and Corey still carries that goal through his life.
- Angie said that Ira saved her from drug addiction at the age of 17.
- Barbara chose her father since he was always on her side no matter what happened. He made her feel loved and appreciated.
- Devin was 4 years old when he had a babysitter named Lela who made him believe that he could be somebody some day.
- Jackie said that Clark motivated her to believe that she could achieve anything. His advice helped her start her own business and led her to publish two books.
- John said that when he was a teenager his older brother’s friend cultivated his natural curiosity. George encouraged him to be creative and invent new ways to do things.
- David said that his college professor made him face his fear of failure and challenged him to be daring. Even now Thomas still shares in decision-making moments with him.
- Bob’s father died when he was nine. His older brother, Fred, did whatever he could do to support their hard working mother and provide for the family.
My character, “The Mentor”, represents people who have the insight to help others find their hidden abilities and reach their potential. “The Mentor” empowers others to succeed. The other Superheroes in the book are based on real people who have overcome poverty, drugs, gangs and violence, sexual abuse, childhood cancer, and learning disabilities. Our goal is to show kids that they can overcome obstacles and be heroes in their own lives.
With the support of 340 backers we have raised over $35,000.00 to write and illustrate “The Crusaders” comic. This book will be donated to private and public schools, hospitals, literacy centers, educational organizations, and Ronald McDonald Houses. “The Crusaders” should be published in March 2014. By fictionalizing these everyday superheroes we hope that we can show students that anything is possible.