A hero is a noun meaning a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities. The other night we had some people over for dinner. The wife said that when she was little she was able to state one or even two heroes in her life. I cocked my head and squinted my eyes, but I couldn’t think of anyone. 

The thought did not leave my mind easily.

When I was single, my friend Lisa and I would go to bars and say, “if you HAD to go home with someone tonight, who would it be?” So I gave myself this ultimatum this week. If I HAD to choose a hero, who would it be?

I choose Tara Smith. She is quite possibly one of the most extraordinary teachers I have ever been lucky enough to call a friend. She is in a very special Voxer group with me so I get to learn more about her than many of you ever will. While I can’t divulge too much because it isn’t my story to tell, I want to share some reasons why Tara is my hero.

1. Personalized Learning She studies her students work each week so that she can figure out where each student needs to go in their studies. She isn’t kidding. She doesn’t just say, “Oh six of these kids need X, five need Y.” She says, “Jared needs to think about how he writes X if he wants to be more persuasive. Bailey should be introduced to two books within the P genre because he needs to learn Z.”  

2. Deep Concern She lies (lays?) in bed each night and thinks about some of her students, wondering if they will push through and grow up so they can be who they need to be in the world. She gets downright angry at the injustices of the world and is very happy to speak her mind regardless of the consequence. 

3. Tough History She gets that people come from difficult backgrounds and experiences, she did too. She doesn’t let this define who she will be as a mother, a teacher, a wife, and a citizen of the world and she sure as hell isn’t going to let you define yourself by your history either. She speaks the truth when she needs to so you can be your best self. When you hear what Tara thinks of your truth and of who you have declared yourself to be––you will cry and, you will believe her.

4. Education Rules She is a staunch proponent for the right to education. She is appalled by teachers who don’t take their jobs seriously and knows that children have the right to know the truth about the world and figure things out for themselves as well. She taught Appomattox on the last day of school because (and I quote), “they have to know how it ends!”

On the day I emailed Tara to ask if she’d consider partnering with me in an online writing group, I was worried she was out of my league. When I heard her voice say yes and sound truly excited, I knew she was one of those rare birds who doesn’t believe she is out of anyone’s league. We’re in this together she exudes with every word she writes and every breath she takes…and I believe her.

Tara Smith is my hero.

Follow her on social media and read her blog. You have much to learn and in exchange, you’ll get to hear that she thinks you have much to teach her as well.