Visiting Author: Chris Barcomb

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This week, kindergarten and first grade students got a visit from a very special guest – Chris Barcomb, who is a medically retired officer from the Albemarle County Police Department, a talented author, a comic book aficionado, and so much more! Mr. Barcomb is the author of the brand new Superior Sam series, and today he came to talk to us about the first book from the series, The Amazing Adventure of Superior Sam.

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The Amazing Adventure of Superior Sam introduces us to Sam, a kid who is determined to be a superhero. His superhero identity, Superior Sam, is fast, strong, and determined – and he never backs down from a challenge! Unfortunately for Sam, when he accepts a dare to jump off of the tallest slide at the playground, his landing isn’t so super… and when he wakes up later in the hospital, his life is forever changed.

Students follow Sam as he deals with the difficult aftermath of his accident. How can he go back to school? Will his friends treat him the same way? Will he ever feel Superior again?

Mr. Barcomb’s presentation centered around Superior Sam, but it included so much more. He talked about his time with the Albemarle County Police Department, and brought his police badge and passed it around for everyone to see. As you can tell, the chance to hold a real police badge was a dream come true!

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As students passed and watched, Mr. Barcomb talked to us about how easy it is to make assumptions about people, and how that can lead to bullying. He asked students to share assumptions that they might have about him after his introduction, hearing that he was a police officer, and that he is now retired. He challenged students to be open and speak directly to others about what might bother them, communicating and working through problems. And then, he pulled out his biggest surprise yet. Why does Mr. Barcomb feel so passionately about kindness, open-minded thinking, and inclusivity for all? Take a look.

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Mr. Barcomb is an amputee, after an injury during his time with the Albemarle County Police Department. He introduced himself to students and got to know them before sharing his disability, and then challenged their assumptions by going to tie his shoe – and pulling off his prosthetic leg! I wish I could have better captured the reactions on students’ faces when he nonchalantly tied that bow. When many children think disabled, they think elderly or weak – Mr. Barcomb was a perfect example that things are not always what they seem, and that everyone deserves kindness and respect.

He even let students get an up-close look at his prosthetic, complete with an awesome Captain America socket. Mr. Barcomb is a huge fan of Captain America because he never gives up – sounds familiar, right?

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After reading Superior Sam to the group – while standing on one leg, without even breaking a sweat! – Mr. Barcomb invited students to ask questions. I was so impressed with the thoughtful questions that students asked – from empathetic questions regarding pain and recovery to logical queries about swimming, sleeping, doctors, and the cost of the prosthetic. No matter how wacky or personal the question, Mr. Barcomb spoke to each child with respect, humor, and honesty. He was a perfect example of how hard work and determination can overcome any adversity – ideals that we work to instill in our children every single day. And in case that wasn’t enough, he challenged each class to a one-legged standing competition, to give them a short example of what he feels 24 hours a day, every day. What an incredible opportunity to inspire empathy in young children and challenge them to take a walk in someone else’s shoes – eh hem, I mean, shoe.

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Mr. Barcomb’s is a perfect fit with the Johnson community. We were all so impressed by his bravery, humble and approachable attitude, and the good natured humor with which he shared his life. Mr. Barcomb even gifted a few copies of Superior Sam to the Johnson library for students to enjoy, which got a cheer from the audience! Mr. Barcomb’s special visit is one that students are sure to remember.

Thank you so much to local author Chris Barcomb for sharing this unique and invaluable experience with the Johnson Library! We can’t wait to have you back to visit soon.

You can buy your own copy of Superior Sam on Amazon, and keep an eye out for sequels. Superior Sam will have his own seven book series! Mr. Barcomb is an incredibly kind and friendly man who is so passionate about sharing his story with children. He welcomes contact from kids and parents and would love to hear from you if you have feedback about his Johnson visit, so don’t be shy! You can contact him via email at theamazingsuperiorsam@gmail.com.

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