“The joy and excitement that was beaming off of Jose was blinding and always is. Not all heroes wear capes. Some heroes spread joy throughout the world.” - Elizabeth Jones (classmate)
When most hear mention of a hero or princess, they envision super powers or special abilities. They visually illustrate an extraordinary individual featuring a cape or tiara. Contrary to what motion pictures would have us to believe, a superhero does not always wear a cape, and a princess does not always wear a tiara.
Throughout the school year, Evans Elementary School is full of everyday heroes walking amongst the halls of our school. These heroes do not appear the way you might imagine; yet their superpowers are evident. Among them, some have the ability to spread joy in all situations and bring a smile across the face of others. In turn, they end up teaching their teachers and peers what life is all about.
On May 18, a movement began in my classroom. We honored our very own hero, Jose Williams, by having Iron Man visit and present Jose with his very own Iron Man award. This idea developed during a conversation with a friend, Kevin Terrell, at my daughter’s 5K event. Jose came out to participate in the 5K, and Kevin and I knew we had to get Iron Man to come visit him. Kevin Terrell, Tiara Painter, and Colby Parker helped make this event possible. Colby Parker, also known as Iron Man, took the time to come out and make this day special for Jose, as well as everyone else involved. In the future, we hope to continue working together to help make students’ dreams become possible.
While all my students leave their mark in my heart, Jose’s mark is far from ordinary. Throughout the year, Jose has been a constant reminder of kindness and true friendship. He has reminded me of my own daughter and given me the chance to become a better teacher. His happiness is contagious, and he will forever be our favorite Iron Man.
After the Iron Man experience, it was evident that not only Jose was impacted. Responses from Iron Man, a photographer, teachers, and students were as follows:
Kevin Terrell, owner of SoFly Productions, posted on Facebook: “Here are a few photos from our visit today with the amazing Jose at Evans Elementary School. After meeting Jose at the Kure 4 Kamryn 5K Run this past weekend and talking with Kayla about his love for Iron Man, we decided to do something special for his birthday this week and bring Iron Man to him. A special thanks to everyone involved who helped make this happen Colby Parker, KayLa Miller, Melanie Oliver, Tiara Painter, and the entire administration and staff of Evans Elementary. These moments are such a blessing and just so thankful we are able to give in a way that’s impactful to others.”
Colby Parker of Hero’s Helping Hero’s posted on Facebook: “I had the utmost pleasure of visiting Evans Elementary School to see a special young man named Jose. Jose is a huge Iron Man fan, and needless to say, he melted this tin man’s heart! I wanna give a big thanks to Kevin Terrell, Tiara Painter and Kayla Miller for giving me this opportunity!”
“Jose is one of the sweetest kids I know. I think that being honored with having his favorite superhero show up to school just for him, and having a day in the spotlight, was amazing and well deserved. It made his day, and it made ours as a result. - Ava Owens (classmate)
“Jose is a person who puts you in a good mood or shares icecream with you. The one who is polite or helps you find your place in life. He is the person who likes to include you, even if you are not his closest friend. He is a hero to most people - just like Iron Man.” - Jaden Smith (classmate)
“I think that Iron Man coming to see Jose was very exciting and nice of him. That to me was an award to all the nice things Jose does for all the students and teachers.” - Jordan Amick (classmate)
“Each student I came in contact with has a special place in my heart, but I think I may have learned the most from one of my students, Jose Williams. Jose taught me how to be a friend to everyone, how to always ask questions, and how a simple smile can go a long way. When Iron Man came to visit, I honestly had chills. It was seriously just an amazing and memorable day! The students’ reactions and support for Jose was so incredible with each of their kind gestures and supportive attitudes. I feel they will each take that day with them and remember it forever. They will be able to remember that everyone matters...that everyone deserves happiness...and that dreams really do come true. To see Jose so happy and vibrant made the entire year worthwhile. I couldn’t have imagined a better year to begin my teaching career.” - Melanie Oliver (teacher)
“Each day, for the last 14 years, I have been given the blessing of going to work with some phenomenal students who not only want to learn, but also teach me and bless my life in return. We are all human, and we have good days and bad. Experience has taught me that the most important part in life is that we learn from our mistakes and lift others up in our moments of triumph. Despite the countless challenges these students face daily, they never fail to show love, strength, and determination on a daily basis. Giving them an opportunity to meet one of their favorite superheroes or sing some songs with a few princesses is only a small way to give back the joy that they have been sharing with us all year long. I am thankful for my team of educators at Evans Elementary. We are a part of a beautiful inclusive family, and everyone is an important part.” - Rachel Dumas (teacher)
After the Iron Man, visit, Rachel Dumas mentioned how awesome it would be for princesses to visit a few of her other students. I wasn’t sure how, but I knew we could make it happen. I contacted a friend, Tyler Reeves, who put me in touch with Abbey Grauberger. Within one day, we had three 2017-2018 AHS students - Olivia Adams, Taylor Thomas, and Claire Hammer. These ladies took the time to visit in their princess attire to make dreams come true for two very special students - Faith Martinez and Kimberly Sierra. As princess sang, teachers and students danced. The room filled with joy and laughter. It is a moment that we were blessed to be a part of.
Anna Kathryn Price and Cadence Chamblee, both students, commented on being in the room during the princess encounter:
“When the princesses came to Evans, I was very excited for the girls! Doing this was important, because it made their dreams come true, and it made them very happy. I'm honored that I was able to be a part of it!” - Anna Kathryn
“I just want to thank the princesses for coming to see the girls. It brought smiles to their faces, and they really enjoyed it.” - Cadence
Through collaboration with individuals willing to put in time and effort, we granted wishes of a few students. However, additional students, the participants, and teachers were blessed with a moment that they will always cherish. Walt Disney’s quote comes to mind: “Dreams can come true, if you have the courage to pursue them.”
Kayla Miller is a teacher at Evans Elementary School.