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That young people look up to Hollywood stars and professional athletes as role models is a fact of life. Often, these superstars disappoint us by revealing that they, too, are only human. This is an especially difficult reality for children to accept. We want — and we need – heroes. Superheroes, even. For a brief bit after 9/11, we fixated on firefighters and police officers as superheroes. Rightly. But it didn’t last.

Every now and then we also come to see teachers as superheroes.

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Justin Snider is a contributing editor at The Hechinger Report. He is an assistant dean at Columbia University, where he also teaches undergraduate writing. Previously, Snider taught high-school English...

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