When I was in 6th grade, the teacher made some mention early in the year that we'd have to do a hero report as a final project. For some reason I liked his idea, and began to work and research this immediately, months before it became any kind of officially assigned project. My chosen hero: Tim Burton.
Now, when I was in 5th grade, The Nightmare Before Christmas has come out; and for a sad kid like me, living at the beach in sunny and happy California, that movie was life-changing. It was one of the first times I had any sense that someone else got it. I became fully obsessed with the film -- as much as Jack was obsessed with Christmas -- and learned everything I could about it. This brought me to learn more about the very interesting people Tim Burton and Danny Elfman; and Tim Burton became my new idol. In imitation of Mr. Burton's wardrobe I took to all black (and maintain that to this day, though presently it's for other reasons.) I made a point of seeing all his movies (my parents even took me on a special trip to see the R-rated Ed Wood when it was new) and I succeeded in finding a copy of Frankenweenie back when that was no easy task.
So I was quite happy for my excuse to learn even more about Mr. Tim Burton. This was essentially before the internet (I knew of only one family that had it, at that time) so, I did things like write to Premier Magazine for any articles they had about Tim Burton, and had to read up on other articles via microfiche at libraries. By the end I had about a 50 page report on the man.
And then, before the end of the year, my dumb parents went and decided we would move to New Mexico, meaning the project was rendered null. The new school in Santa Fe did not have these hero reports on their curriculum.
However, in one of the few favorable stories I have about a teacher (Mr. Keller was the guy -- he was one of the better ones I've had) I was permitted, the day before leaving California, to give a special presentation of my practically-finished report, which ran past the bell; Mr. Keller even had the courtesy to detain all the other students to hear the extra 20 minutes of my babbling on about Tim Burton and all his accomplishments.
While I'd not call Burton my hero any longer (I think the gentleman peaked some time around Ed Wood) I cannot deny his influence upon me which had lasted for all my life so far, and likely will continue me in some manner for the rest of my days.