A young girl in Arkansas is letting the world know that not all heroes wear capes.
It all began on March 3, when Jaime Deigh arrived to work at R.E. Baker Elementary school, where she teaches second-grade. It was the last day of Spirit Week, and students across the district were set to read the final chapter of Almost Super by Marion Jensen, about two middle grade brothers in a family of superheroes, which they had been reading the entire week.
The final reading day was celebrated district-wide as "Superhero Day," Deigh tells Yahoo Life, and students were encouraged to "come dressed as your favorite superhero."
When she arrived to class that Friday, Deigh was tickled to see an array of fun characters like Wonder Woman and Spider Man, but one particular outfit stood out: that of her student, Caroline Carlson, who came dressed as her for Superhero Day.
"It just felt amazing to see," she says of 8-year-old Carlson, who decided to nix the traditional "cape and mask" and instead opt for Deigh's classic look: a denim jacket over a bright-colored spirit shirt (something that was not a complete surprise for the teacher, as she and Carlson's mom, Cortney, had coordinated their outfits the day before).
For the young student, deciding on who her favorite superhero is was a no-brainer.
"Heroes don't have to have a cape or mask to be a superhero. They're just trying to change the world," Carlson tells Yahoo Life. "Ms. Deigh is a great teacher. She doesn't just teach us 'teacher stuff.' She also teaches us how to be kind and responsible, and to be a good leader."
The school's principal snapped a photo of the adorable moment and later shared it on the school district's Facebook page, where it won the hearts of parents and teachers in the area and soon made the local news.
Carlson and Deigh's story has since made an indelible mark at the school.
"Teachers are quiet heroes," a representative from Bentonville Schools tells Yahoo Life. "The relationships they nurture now stay with children for decades. We're proud of Jaime and Caroline for so beautifully articulating what education truly means in Bentonville."
Carlson says the "biggest lesson" Deigh has taught her is to simply, "spread goodness."
"I define a superhero as someone that can help people, who can really help them understand how to be a really good person," she says. "Ms. Deigh does that. She teaches us that you have to be kind to earn respect. It's about kindness."
Deigh, who's spent the majority of her career as "the only teacher of color in the school," says Superhero Day proves that kindness and mentorship are colorblind.
"For my students to look at me like they look at everybody else, it was just a special moment," she says. "It shows that, all the things we see going on in the world, it doesn't matter. If you're good to someone, you never know the impact you're making on someone."
That's a lesson Deign learned from her own mother, who she credits as a "real-life superhero."
"She was the first graduating class in my hometown to graduate from a non-segregated school [in Georgia]," she says of her mom, who ultimately inspired her to become a teacher. "She taught me that it doesn't matter where you come from, or what you do. You can be anything that you want to be."
Carlson's mom applauds teachers like Deigh for helping kids understand important lessons about life that stretch beyond reading, writing and arithmetic.
"She comes home and tells me all the things that, as a parent, I know I should be teaching but they're reinforcing it at school: lessons about kindness and respect and how you treat people," Cortney tells Yahoo Life. "It's really impactful, and it means so much to me."
For superhero Deigh, however, it's all in a day's work.
"I take on my classroom as if these are all my children and I'm their mom," she explains of her method. "We spend eight hours a day together, and so, I try to teach them that whether it's here or when you grow up, you have to be a difference maker. In every choice that you make, you have to decide what difference is going to make a positive difference in the world or a negative difference in the world."
"I also teach them to be problem solvers," she adds. "Pencils are made with erasers for a reason. If you make a mistake, you can erase it and start over. As soon as you become difference makers, you're going to make mistakes, but just remember the life lessons that are taught to you."
Carlson is certainly reaping the rewards of such lessons: "Just be yourself," she advises other kids who are searching for the "superhero" in themselves.
Deigh hopes their story can serve as a lesson for other teachers as well.
"Don't give up," she advises them. "Start every day brand new, Our jobs are not easy. Remember to laugh and remember why you started this career in the first place. And remember to take care of yourself. That is a biggie! We cannot care for kids and be the teacher that they need you to be if we don't take care of ourselves."
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