Be Your Own Hero

January 12, 2018

The other day I was jamming to ninety’s music, and a song came on that reminded me of a special moment with my third graders several years ago.

Over ten years ago…

I was sitting with my third graders in a circle on the carpet at the front of the room during our class meeting. As I did every morning, I asked them how they might rate their morning–fist to five. Five was it has been better than chocolate pie, and fist meant it has been tearful and I feel defeated. That morning there were a lot of zeros and ones. I knew right away we had to get to the heart of some of this before we began our day. We did some mindfulness “train your brain” type activities. Then, one of my little girls mentioned how her heart was hurting since her brother had been killed–only a month before.


Out of nowhere, I said, let’s learn a song in sign language.

I took American Sign Language in undergraduate school and loved integrating it in instruction; in fact, we used a lot of sign language for different communication cues in class.

But, this day, I thought…I want to teach them a song.

I pulled up the song Hero by Mariah Carey, and we began learning the first verse. Each day after that meeting, we learned a little more. As we learned it, I would encourage them to be strong.

Be brave. You have so much potential.

You just have to dig deep and find it within yourself. I’d share how you don’t always have someone to carry you through life–sometimes you have to reach deep within and muster up the strength.

Be your own hero.

What they didn’t really know…

I needed that message, too. That year my dad had left this world suddenly, and the lack of closure left me feeling alone in my life-journey, as well. 

Months after learning this song, one of my little guys came to me during lunch and said, “Mrs. Mawtin, pull up that Hero song!” Of course, I did as he asked. Then, he stood before me and signed the entire song for me. He said, “I just thought you might need a little reminder today.” Then, he smiled and walked away. Adorable. 

This little song became our mantra. We helped each other remember we are so much stronger than we think.

Dear “All Grown-up Third Graders”

To all of my kiddos who are now embarking on your freshman year of college–many of you first generation high school graduates and college students; you’ve got this! I want you to know I’m still chasing my dreams, and it’s not easy. 

I hope you will continue to look within your heart and find that hero today. And, when you’re feeling defeated, when life throws you curve balls, you will remember where your strength comes. Believe me; life throws lots of curve balls when you take risks and strive for your ambitions. In fact, I’m feeling the heat of late, but I often think of you guys and our little bond with this song.

Just remember…

“A hero lies in you!” And, Mrs. Martin believes in YOU!

Never give up. Don’t do it!

I love this quote by Matthew McConaughey,

“My hero is me in the next ten years.”

Be your own hero!

This tribute is for you and anyone else who might need the reminder. 

*Disclosure, it’s been a good 15 years since I’ve had ASL training; I’m a little rusty. Oh, and the lighting and sound are not great quality. It’s all heart, friends.

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  • Reply Michele January 14, 2018 at 9:52 am

    Beautiful Tara. I hope some of those grown up third graders see this and know their teacher still loves and is rooting for them. You make a difference.

    • Reply Tara M Martin January 14, 2018 at 11:05 am

      Awww…thank you for taking the time to comment and share your reflections, Michele. I do love and miss all of my students. They hold a special place in my heart.

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