It’s homecoming week at my school, and week is filled with many of the traditional homecoming activities including special dress-up days. The first day, of homecoming week, was dress like a superhero day. My superhero I dressed up as was one of our science teachers, Mr. Jerod Gross. Why Mr. Gross? Well besides being an awesome teacher, Mr Gross gave up a promising career as a NASA rocket scientist to become a public school teacher. How many schools can say they have a genuine NASA rocket scientist for a science teacher? When he talks science, it’s first-hand knowledge!
But my superhero could have easily been any of my colleagues.
- The history teachers who fought in Iraq.
- The math teacher who turned down a lucrative offer in computer programming.
- The science teacher who continued to awe her students everyday knowing that she was going to give birth to a child that would need heart surgery soon after birth. (Update: Mom’s back to work and baby is doing well.)
My 15 Seconds as a Superhero …
Twelve years ago this month, my wife and I adopted our daughter from China. At that time, she was one of the first two girls, from her orphanage, to be adopted by Americans. That was a big deal for them. Part of our adoption process included being questioned, by a panel of Chinese officials, regarding how we would raise our Chinese daughter in the United States.
The meeting included my wife, and the family adopting the other child. The officials only wanted to question the fathers. I felt fortunate that I was picked to go second.
I nervously watched as the other father was questioned. He was a successful nuclear engineer who, at the time, was making over three times what I was making as a teacher. They asked him various questions including what his occupation was and what his salary was. He told them what he did, and how much he was paid. The Chinese officials, not realizing how large an amount of money it was, asked if it was enough to raise a child. The father smiled and humbly said yes. His questioning continued for another 30 minutes. Then came my turn.
Their first question was what my occupation was. I told them I was a school teacher. Immediately, after the translator had relayed that information to them, a thunderstorm of Chinese erupted amongst them. Back and forth, and back and forth for what seemed like an eternity, and then the talking abruptly stopped. I had no idea what they had said. I was nervous and scared. They put down their pens, they looked at me, and then official spoke. The translator then turned towards me, smiled and said, “Mr. Hayes, they are very honored to have this child be adopted by a teacher from the United States.” My questioning was done. To them, as a teacher, I was to be respected and honored. It was a moment that made me feel like a superhero.
But better than feeling like a superhero, I became dad!
One Final Comment…
I don’t want anyone to think that was the only time I felt honored to be a teacher. Over the years I have felt very appreciated by my students, parents, school district and community in which I’m fortunate enough to teach in. Five years ago, my daughter (our only child) was diagnosed with cancer. The school and community supported my family during that difficult time. I will always feel tremendously grateful for their love and support. Today, my daughter is a healthy and happy sophomore girl who, during one period of each day, calls her teacher dad.