Even Superheroes need a hero

Education at Green Valley High was experiencing a lot of changes and Robert Wolfe felt like he was smack dab in the middle. Robert had been teaching Agricultural Education for around eight years before his former Ag Teacher, Ms. Wright, had retired and was quickly asking for his application! He knew the challenges that would be facing him when he took the helm of his childhood chapter. Ms. Wright, simply put was a legend, she had taught 32 years and had overseen the growth of not only the Ag program, but the diversity and capacity of the local agriculture economy. She had inspired and taught countless agricultural producers who were now the movers and shakers within the community, just as she had promised they would be many years ago.

These were big shoes left for Robert, but Ms. Wright had the belief and confidence, which is precisely why she reached for that phone and dialed his number when she knew retirement was around the bend. Robert had proven himself very capable over the years working on rebuilding a program thirty minutes west of their rural community. Yet, Robert, or Robbie as many called him, was experiencing serious doubts when he would give a quick glance over the laundry list of items still needing done prior that first day of school!

Ms. Wright was slowly weaning herself off the habit of coming up each morning for animal checks, but she couldn’t lie…she secretly enjoyed coming by seeing how Mr. Wolfe was getting along. Today she could tell that Robbie needed a little pep talk. “How’s it shaking out Mr. Wolfe?” Robert was startled from his glazed gaze as he looked at the computer screen setting up his Google classes.

He chuckled as he turned towards Ms. Wright, “You know I remember when you’d sneak up on us back in the day and scare the heck out of us shop boys, but could we please begin making a little more noise when we enter a room?” Robert’s spirits always lifted when he’d see Ms. Wright come in for her check-in’s.

“I’ll take note of that, but you’re avoiding the question, Mr. Wolfe, how are you doing?”

Robert’s brow crinkled slightly as he released a slight sigh, “It has not been easy, we’ve experienced so much turnover in our school, I’m new; there’s countless other new staff and we have new administration, I think the only thing left the same from when I was in school is our school secretary! I’m not as familiar with the kids or the community after having been gone for these last twelve years, even though I was a short jaunt away it feels like I’m relearning so much!”

Ms. Wright, was a little taken aback, she had assumed that Robert had maintained deeper connections with his home community, but he truly had settled in pretty deep in the other school and town; his parents had moved shortly after he graduated so he hadn’t much of a reason for coming back on visits. A sting of guilt hit Ms. Wright, there were many things she just knew from over the years of experience and she had in her years there at Green Valley a deep sense of stability, all things that Robert would not enjoy for some time.

Then a thought hit Ms. Wright, “I think I may know what you need Robert, let’s go for a drive!” Robert though grateful, just felt he couldn’t spare these last precious moments.

“Ms. Wright, thank you, but I think I need to take a rain check, there’s still so much I need to get done!” Robert could tell from Ms. Wright’s face that this was not a fight he would win. As they began driving down the dirt road kicking up dust unto the lush green hill sides, he was thankful that Ms. Wright was unwilling in accepting no as an answer.

Ms. Wright brought the vehicle to a stop by an old farmhouse and a mid-aged woman came bounding out, “Ms. Wright!” exclaimed the woman, “Who is this in tow? Nah…my goodness, is that Robbie? Sterling’s boy?” They all spoke for awhile, Ms. Wright ensured they had exchanged numbers and that Robbie had shared his hopes and dreams for the FFA Alumni Chapter! After an afternoon of stops at numerous businesses and other family homes; Robbie was struggling in recalling everyone he had met! It was a whirlwind of support that he needed to know had his back as he assumed role as the Ag Teacher there at Green Valley High.

“Wow…Ms. Wright, I never fully understood the depth of connections you had built over the years, even as an FFA officer. Thank you for taking this time to go on these visits with me!”

Ms. Wright had a shimmer in her eyes, “One more stop Mr. Wolfe, one more stop.” As they pulled into the gravel circle drive a few startled horses snapped their heads up looking on as they drove in, “I’m very excited in having you meet these gentlemen!”

On the porch sat two men; one in a gliding rocker who looked well weathered with age, sporting an old trucker’s hat, signaling Ms. Wright and Robert up the steps of the porch. The other was a mid-aged man who seemed lost in thought as if they had just wrapped up a deep conversation. “Good afternoon gentlemen! I’d like to make some introductions!” Ms. Wright exclaimed with a smile across her face.

“Robert this is Todd Baker,” said Ms. Wright motioning towards the mid-aged man, “One of my first students!” Then, Ms. Wright paused as her smile stretched even further as her eyes fixed on the older man, “Mr. Kellogg, here, was my first principal when I came onboard as a teacher; his wisdom and support truly was what inspired me to stay in the classroom for as long as I did!”

It was then the older gentleman chimed in, “Okay, okay let’s not be too sappy here, you’ll make me tear up. One thing Robert you need to remember is that they call me simply, K, I put up that cowboy hat as Principal Kellogg quite some time ago.” K said this as he winked at Robert. They sat there and visited for quite some time. It was fun for Robert in hearing the stories of Ms. Wright’s early career from both one of her first students and then her first administrator! So many priceless stories, but also some difficult and challenging times.

Finally, it came that time when Ms. Wright and Robert knew they’d need to hit the road for home, “Thank you both for letting us stop by; Robert,” said Ms. Wright as she turned towards him, “in the classroom, we are told we have such an opportunity in being the superhero for many youth, but Robert without these heroes in my life,” Ms Wright motioning to K and Todd, “being there through those tough times, I wouldn’t have made it. Always remember, superheroes need a hero too!” With that final waves, goodbyes, and hugs were exchanged and Ms. Wright and Robert kicked up dust down the road and again sending the horses in a dizzy.

K turned to Todd, “Ms. Wright has big hopes for this young man, keep a special eye on him won’t you?”

Todd nodded his head, “Absolutely, K, could we pray for the changes that are coming?” K smiled and they bowed their heads together.

This story above is inspired by so many people in my life here at the “real” Blue Valley. I relate with the young Robbie from Green Valley who is experiencing a huge set of transitions! I am so thankful for those who had the belief and were willing in making the time to invest in my growth. My principal, Marion Mazouch, was one of those special people.

I’ll never forget being called into Marion Mazouch’s office that day in January of 2022. He had recently announced his retirement at the last School Board Meeting and I was left torn about my next steps. I had completed in December of 2020 my Master’s degree in School Administration, but swore that I would never use it. I was dead set on being a career Ag Teacher and seeing the visions I had for our Ag program through!

Marion leaned back in his chair and jokingly said, “Well I haven’t seen your application yet?” He was hinting at the fact I had cold feet and was having hesitations.

I quickly shared without missing a beat, “Marion, to be honest I’m not convinced I’m the one who needs to take this role on, what would you tell me to convince me otherwise?”

What Marion shared next shook me to the core, in many ways I know the Lord was using Marion as his mouthpiece that day in speaking towards my heart and desire for our students and staff.

He smiled and I could see him relax, “Anthony to be honest, you don’t want my job.” I laughed aloud…what a way to start this conversation I thought to myself, but Marion continued, “As a teacher you are the superhero, you are on the direct frontlines working with students and transforming their lives. When adults are asked to reflect back, what is it that they are asked? Who was your most impactful teacher, right? Have you ever had anyone ask you, who was your most impactful Principal?” Marion chuckled to himself, but his next words were inspired.

“You see you will only want my job if you are willing to do the work that make those superhero moments possible for your staff. You will only want my job if you are willing to work countless hours without recognition and do it so others can be successful. You will only want my job when you realize that even superheroes need a hero.”

Those were the words I needed to hear, later that evening and through the weekend I wrote my Cover Letter and Resume, submitting them the following week. I thank Mr. Mazouch for all the patience, mentorship, and grace extended to me those eight years of teaching and then mentoring under him as an Administrative Intern. His example of what a true hero is made of and does each and everyday directs my own steps now!

Here’s to a tremendous retirement Mr. Mazouch!

If you are interested in getting more details on the characters and stories from Green Valley here are the links to those earlier stories:

The Farmers Field

Tale of Three Trees

As always, thank you for reading and may the Lord protect and bless each of you!

Take care, Anthony

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