Not all heroes wear capes – some wear masks and gowns.

That statement has become a popular theme honoring health care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lauren Vannatter found out early Tuesday morning that some don Van Horn High School sports shirts.

Sporting a Van Horn polo shirt, Independence School District Superintendent Dale Herl came to the aid of the Sugar Creek Elementary School kindergarten teacher, who had a flat tire a few minutes before arriving at the school.

“I needed to tag a vehicle and I went to the Sugar Creek DMV, thinking it opened at 8 a.m.,” Herl said. “Well, because of the coronavirus shutdowns, it opened later than that.

“That’s when I saw a car, with out of town plates, that had a flat tire, right by the DMV. A young woman, who appeared to be about 20, was looking at the tire, so I asked her if I could help.”

The car belonged to Vannatter, who said she was having a bad day.

“I was running late, my coffee was cold – it just wasn’t a very good morning – and then, I had the flat tire,” Vannatter said. “I was looking at the tire when someone came up and said, ‘Ma’am, can I help?’ I turned around and it was Dr. Herl! I couldn’t believe it. He had no idea I was a teacher until I introduced myself.”

Herl chuckles at the thought of the initial meeting. “She did have her back to me and she said, ‘Dr Herl!’ It was a fun moment,” he said.

He unpacked her spare, changed the tire and an appreciative Vannatter made it to school on time.

“That’s a great way to meet your superintendent,” she said. “He’s got so much going on right now, I don’t know how he deals with all of it, and he took time to help me in my time of need. I really am so thankful for what he did and so thankful that he is our superintendent.”

When she introduced herself, Herl said the name sounded familiar to him.

“I didn’t recognize Ms. Vannatter, but I recognized her name. I had read to her class earlier this year,” he said. “It’s funny how things work out. I am just thankful that I was able to help her.”