Striding across the Ellsworth Middle School parking lot, guidance counselor Brenda Frost doesn’t really strike you as a hero.She’s tall, pretty, with long legs and long, brown hair.
But there’s a lot of people like that.
What makes Brenda Frost different is her eyes.
“Oh, yeah,” one eighth grader told me after school last week. “Mrs. Frost has really smart eyes.”
“And they’re nice eyes, too,” another added.
“Like a puppy.”
“But a smart puppy.”
But there’s something focused in Brenda Frost’s eyes and that focus is what makes her much more than a puppy, and much closer to a hero.
This fall, when the orthodontist put my daughter’s top braces on, she was too terrified to get out of the car and go to school.
“You look beautiful, sweetie,” I said.
“Your teeth are going to be so amazing.”
She cried more.
We sat there. I held her hand. Nothing I did convinced Em that it was okay. But Brenda came out of the school, strode towards her Subaru station wagon. She was heading somewhere. She had the walk of a woman on a mission.
Then she saw Em in my car, all crumpled looking. She hurried over. She squatted down beside the passenger side of the car, reached through the open door and rubbed Em’s knee and called her “Sweetie.”
Brenda coaxed her out of the car, walked around the track with her, talking, telling her about when she got her own braces. She made Em feel better. She convinced Em to go inside the school. Then she told all Em’s teachers that Em probably wasn’t going to talk in class that day. Then she let Em eat lunch in her office because Em didn’t want to open her mouth and have people see the braces.
Brenda Frost did all that even though she was on her way somewhere else and by the end of the day Em was smiling.
It’s the sort of thing she does all time. She deals with traumas large and small. She’s in charge of the middle school’s civil rights team. One of the team’s goals is for people to respect other people, to help people to be kind.
Brenda’s not a flamboyant hero, and if you thank her for helping you or helping your child, she’ll merely wave the praise away.
“It’s my job,” she’ll say.
That’s what heroes do. They do their jobs. What makes it different is that heroes do more than their job. They go above. They go beyond. And, like Brenda Frost, they invest more than their time. They invest their hearts.