When I was a little girl. I didn’t really like cartoons. The only comic books I read were the Archies, and that was because of Betty and Veronica. I didn’t enjoy super hero type shows. I was forced into watching the shows on TV because my brothers liked them but I was always so girly.
What makes an ordinary person into SuperHero?
My super hero would be someone who magically appears and heals wounds, often in secret. My super hero would prevent future wounds by building up the person’s confidence and esteem by not only healing the wound, but walking the person through the process – learning the cause, the impact, and embracing their personal strength so that they wouldn’t constantly be seeking other people to rescue them when challenges appear.
I remembered someone who was absolutely heroic and helped me to shift from being an invisible, unlikeable, not very smart kindergarten student to a super star first grader.
My transformation was due to Miss Foley, my first grade teacher and undercover SuperHero!
The Legend of Mimi Foley, My Teacher
The legend of Miss Foley is one my children hold in their hearts clearly from my telling and retelling. Once we saw a young woman with long brown hair that flipped up with a curl on the ends and happened to be wearing a bright pink mini-dress, my daughter gasped and said, “Look! It’s Miss Foley!”
On the day I first experienced the magical Miss Foley I got to school early. I always liked getting to school early and I stood there, nose pressed against the window, wondering who would be my first grade teacher.
I was hopeful yet cautious. The moment I saw her for the first time. She was wearing the fuschia dress with big buttons across the bodice in two rows. She had brown hair, long with the flip, and brown eyes that sparkled.
I thought she was beautiful. She was almost as beautiful as my mother!
She was smitten by my enthusiasm, too, which probably helped me love her more.
A Six-Year-Old’s Dream Come True
She helped me fulfill my lifelong dream, to learn to read, and also did some other distinctive actions. I am not sure if she ever realized she was doing anything special nor did she know how much these same themes would run throughout my life.
I reviewed in my mind the definition of a superhero: Someone who magically appears and heals wounds, often in secret. Miss Foley did that in these ways:
She openly liked me. She praised my abilities and gently corrected my mistakes.
She accepted my invitation My mother had a tradition of inviting teachers into our home for lunch once a school year. Linden Avenue School had an hour long lunch break and we all lived close so we went home for lunch. There was no cafeteria at our school and everyone walked.
Miss Foley walked to my home with me on that memorable day. Mom even made the special coffee cake from the recipe from the Bisquick box. To this day I still make coffee cake like that as a signal to my children how special they are.
My kindergarten teacher did not accept my invitation.
Now I know she was a hardened old woman who liked no one, but I thought it was just me she didn’t like. She assigned me to the “less smart kids” first grade class which was lucky because I was rewarded with Miss Foley as a result!
Miss Foley also received the gifts I gave her (flowers from my garden, stories I wrote at home to bring her) with much excitement. Lots of children brought flowers from home gardens and most of the teachers had desks with flowers on them: roses, daffodils, tulips carefully wrapped at the bottom with foil and a paper towel to keep it fed on the walk to school.
On the Friday before Mother’s Day as we walked out of our classroom I said (in my sweet, naive little way) “have a Happy Mother’s Day Miss Foley!” She laughed and hugged me tight and said, “Oh, I hope to have a happy mother’s day someday, when I have children!”
To be hugged and loved by Miss Foley was like being loved and hugged by God-in-person.
It’s funny to think that’s all it took to be seen as a superhero.
Being appreciated, well received and accepting, exactly as I was.
In her classroom, I never felt wounded. I always felt whole.
This makes me want to create experiences for people like that, too, no matter what I am doing.
Miss Foley didn’t wear a magic cape and gratefully, she wasn’t a fictional character on a screen or in a comic book. She was living and breathing and exactly the first-grade-teacher this little girl needed.
Did you have a special “super hero” person when you were a child, or maybe there is a super hero in your life today. Tell us about your super hero in the comments!
Julie JordanScott lives in Bakersfield, California in a house too small for quarantine life. She leads discussions on Zoom and is polishing her most recent memoir and some poetry for soon-to-be publication. If you would like her to speak to your group over ZOOM until travel is available again, she would be happy to talk to you about that OR maybe you are looking for a slightly quirky, very open hearted, compassionate and tender Creative Life Coach. She would love to speak with you soon.