Leah Offutt


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Who Is Your Superhero In Life?

by | Apr 28, 2021 | Leah's Blog

Who Is Your Superhero In Life?

Teaching Writing and Learning About the Kids Superhero In Life

As a teacher I often asked kids to write essays.  Sometimes they wrote to entertain their audience which was to write funny or imaginative stories.  They could use their imagination and write so the sky was the limit.  Sometimes they wrote to inform their audience so they wrote to inform me about whatever topic I requested of them.  There were also times I asked them to write to persuade their audience to think a certain way about a topic.  At first, writing was a hard task for them.  They often didn’t have a lot of experience with formal writing and dreaded the task.  However, in my class, we wrote everyday.  With the topics I chose for my students, I made sure they were of high interest and I modeled everything for them.   I always brought my real life into the classroom which I believe makes you all the more a real person to the kids.  It brings about a special bond between the teacher and students.  Some disagree but I have experienced it for 18 years.  Many years I asked the kids to write on the topic, “Who Is Your Superhero In Life?”  As you can imagine I would get a wide variety of answers.  Many of the boys would write about the latest Marvel movie character being their Superhero In Life.  Many girls would write about me, their teacher, being their Superhero In Life.  Then you would get mom, dad, and a few other answers sprinkled in.  For this particular topic, I never modeled until AFTER they did their writing.  I wanted to see what they came up with first.

The kids would sit on the edge of their seat as they waited to find out who my Superhero In Life was.  Of course they could guess and guess and I wouldn’t confirm or deny their guesses.  I told them their would have to wait for my writing lesson.  This really built up the suspense.  When it came time for me to model my writing for the topic, “Who Is Your Superhero In Life?”, I stood in front of a group of eagerly waiting kids, many of them who once hated writing.  I stood there staring at eyes waiting to see who my Superhero In Life was.  Many of them had a clue, but couldn’t be sure.  I stood there, took a deep breath and gently placed my paper on the document camera.  I started by writing my name on my paper, just as they should do.  I then began talking out loud to show my thinking as I was writing.  I talked about how I wanted to indent the first paragraph.  I talked about how I wanted to restate the question in my answer.  I talked out loud as I thought deeply about a few people who have had an impact on my life and then finally choosing one to write about but I kept it a secret until my pen hit the paper.  I went on to write my first sentence and I found the entire class repeating every word I wrote as if they couldn’t wait for the next word.  As soon as I wrote the letter J for Jake’s name, they all cheered and clapped and said, “I knew it, I knew it”!  These were things I loved about teaching.  But that is for another day.

To help your child become their teacher’s Superhero In Life, here are some resources to practice writing:
Click here for a writing resource for kids.  It features all three purposes of writing and is for grades 1-3.
Click here for a writing resource for boys.  Boys tend to have a more difficult time with writing.  This resource is only for writing to entertain, but it gets them writing.  It is for grades 3-7.
Click here for a writing resource for kids who might be struggling with reading.  This resource features pictures with the prompts and an organizer to help the kids do some prewriting. It is for grades 1-3.
Click here for informative writing prompts.  There isn’t a grade level range on the book but I would say grades 2-5.
Click here for entertaining writing prompts. There isn’t a grade level range on the book but I would say grades 2-5.

How Does Learning About the Kid’s Superhero In Life Connect to Photography?

Well, obviously my Superhero In Life has not changed at all.  Jake is and always will be my Superhero In Life.  Why was he my Superhero In Life?  He went through so much in his short battle with cancer.  It is hard to put into words what a real Superhero means to you.  Jake rarely complained about anything except his migraines.  He suffered terribly.  But when going through cancer treatments he was a rock star!  He took his medications those first 6 weeks without trouble.  He went to radiation everyday for 6 weeks never missing an appointment.  When we would need to be hospitalized due to a migraine, they always had to administer fluids and medication, check his blood counts, etc.  He always thanked the nurses after having needles stuck in his arm.  There was a particularly difficult day when they had a hard time finding his veins and had to stick him over and over.  It was not a fun event for him.  He still thanked them.  He was so humble, so kind, everyone liked Jake.  It is pretty amazing to watch someone you created live life this way.  We are so thankful for the life he led and the example he set for others and for us.  This is why he is my Superhero In Life.  I live each day for him.  I try to make him proud.

So, why does teaching kids writing connect to photography? In teaching, kids first start learning to write through pictures.  They draw pictures to communicate what it is they are trying to say.  As teachers, you learn about the kids through talking to them and through their writing (or pictures depending on the grade).  Yes, you observe them too and put all the pieces together to create a whole picture of each child.  In photography, you tell your clients story through photographs.  No words at all.  This is a hard task to accomplish and it is not always done effectively.  Just as looking at children’s pictures.  Many times you look at their picture and you don’t see what they were trying to convey or focused on.  As a photographer, I may be trying to convey something and the angle isn’t right or the focus isn’t right so it throws off the whole meaning of the photograph.  Give me a topic and I can write about it no problem.  But photography is tricky.  There are so many pieces that must be learned and studied and used creatively to accomplish communicating someone’s story.  I am still learning how to do this with my photography.  I love telling stories and strive to tell stories through my photography.  If Jake were here, I would have a permanent subject for my Superhero In Life Series.  I can just imagine the shots I would be getting.

I would have put together a Superhero In Life series on his cancer journey.  I have all the photographs but they are pretty painful to look at due to the outcome.  It’s a shame because I know I have pictures of all the doctors and nurses where each and everyone of them are a Superhero in Life to us still today.  They are amazing at their jobs and always there to help!  Maybe one day I can sit and go through the pictures to begin my Superhero In Life Series, but not now.

If Jake would have survived, my Superhero In Life series would have documented his years in high school as a sophomore, junior and senior.  My Superhero In Life series would have had stories to tell of him learning to drive, becoming an instructor at his dad’s karate school, going to college, dating and so much more, all through photographs.  He would have been sick of me, but that’s okay.  He would deal with it.

I will work on my photography everyday.  I will work on telling people’s story through photography.  Maybe this will give me the opportunity to still create a Superhero In Life Series but with multiple clients instead of Jake.  All I know is that I love what I do.  I love meeting new people, I love designing sets and creating something incredible with clients, I love growing new friendships with my clients that will last beyond the session, and I love the clients faces when they see their portraits printed on the products they selected, I love it all.  If this sounds like the kind of relationship you would like with your photographer, please reach out and we can begin telling your story.  If you would like me to help share a Superhero in Life series for you through photography, I am all in.

Click here to read about Jake’s story.

Do I have a Superhero In Life for Photography?

Oh Yes! Throughout Jake’s illness and beyond, we have been blessed by so many wonderful people who love us and support us.  One of these amazing people is the talented Jennifer DiDio.  Jennifer is a local photographer who graciously took our last family photographs when Jake was in treatment.  She helped document my Superhero In Life while he was still with us and I will forever be grateful and remember that day for the rest of my life.  She is incredibly talented and creative.  I have followed her photography journey for as long as I can remember and have always admired her work.  She is dedicated to her clients and treats them with the utmost love and respect.  She is a Superhero In Life for me and someone I truly look up to.  Thank you Jennifer for being such a positive influence in the photography industry.  You are so loved!

In the world of photography there are many people that you follow and look to for advice, learning and inspiration.  I have found many that I follow.  I have taken many classes.  But none of them have reached Superhero In Life status yet for me enough to write about besides Jennifer DiDio.  Maybe in a future blog post I will have something to share about something I learned, some advice I was given or some inspiration I found because I have found a lot of great things.  But just no Superheroes yet.  You have to be pretty amazing to reach Superhero status in my book.

Click here to see our session with Jennifer DiDio.
Click here to view Jennifer DiDio’s work.

So my question to you is, Who is Your Superhero In Life and Why?