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The Student and the
|There is a story
of an elementary school teacher many years ago named Mrs.Thompson.
As she stood in front of her 5th grade class on the very first day of
school, she told the children a lie. Like most teachers, she looked at
her students and said that she loved them all the same. But that was
impossible, because there in the front row, slumped in his seat, was a
little boy named Teddy Stoddard.
Mrs.Thompson had watched Teddy the year before and noticed that he didn't
play well with the other children, that his clothes were messy and that he
constantly needed a bath. And Teddy could be unpleasant. It got to the
point where Mrs. Thompson would actually take delight in marking his
papers with a broad red pen, making bold X's and then putting a big "F" at
the top of his papers.
At the school where Mrs. Thompson taught, she was required to review each
child's past records and she put Teddy's off until last. However, when
she reviewed his file, she was in for a surprise. Teddy's first grade
teacher wrote, "Teddy is a bright child with a ready laugh. He does his
work neatly and has good manners...he is a joy to be around."
His second grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is an excellent student, well liked
by his classmates, but he is troubled because his mother has a terminal
illness and life at home must be a struggle."
His third grade teacher wrote, "His mother's death has been hard on him.
He tries to do his best but his father doesn't show much interest and his
home life will soon affect him if some steps aren't taken."
Teddy's fourth grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is withdrawn and doesn't show
much interest in school. He doesn't have many friends and sometimes
sleeps in class."
By now, Mrs. Thompson realized the problem and she was ashamed of herself.
She felt even worse when her students brought her Christmas presents,
wrapped in beautiful ribbons and bright paper, except for Teddy's. His
present which was clumsily wrapped in the heavy, brown paper that he got
from a grocery bag. Mrs. Thompson took pains to open it in the middle of
the other presents. Some of the children started to laugh when she found
a rhinestone bracelet with some of the stones missing, and a bottle that
was one quarter full of perfume. But she stifled the children's laughter
when she exclaimed how pretty the bracelet was, putting it on, and dabbing
some of the perfume on her wrist.Teddy Stoddard stayed after school that
day just long enough to say, Mrs.Thompson, today you smelled just like my
Mom used to."
After the children left she cried for at least an hour. On that very day,
she quit teaching reading, and writing, and arithmetic. Instead, she
began to teach children. Mrs. Thompson paid particular attention to Teddy.
As she worked with him, his mind seemed to come alive. The more she
encouraged him, the faster he responded. By the end of the year, Teddy
had become one of the smartest children in the class and, despite her lie
that she would love all the children the same, Teddy became one her
A year later, she found a note under her door, from Teddy, telling her
that she was still the best teacher he ever had in his whole life.
Six years went by before she got another note from Teddy. He then wrote
what he had finished high school, third in his class, and she was still
the best teacher he ever had in his whole life.
Four years after that, she got another letter, saying that while things
had en tough at times, he'd stayed in school, had stuck with it, and would
soon graduate from college with the highest of honors. He assured Mrs.
Thompson that she was still the best and favorite teacher he ever had in
his whole life.
Then four more years passed and yet another letter came. This time he
explained that after he got his bachelor's degree, he decided to go a
little further. The letter explained that she was still the best and
favorite teacher he ever had. But now his name was a little longer; the
letter was signed, Theodore F. Stoddard, M.D. The story doesn't end
You see, there was yet another letter that spring. Teddy said he'd met a
girl and was going to be married. He explained that his father had died a
couple of years ago and he was wondering if Mrs. Thompson might agree to
sit in the place at the wedding that was usually reserved for the mother
of the groom. Of course, Mrs. Thompson did. And guess what? She wore
that bracelet, the one with several rhinestones missing. And she made
sure she was wearing the perfume that Teddy remembered his mother wearing
on their last Christmas together.
They hugged each other, and Dr. Stoddard whispered in Mrs. Thompson's ear,
"Thank you Mrs. Thompson for believing in me. Thank you so much for
making me feel important and showing me that I could make a difference."
Mrs. Thompson, with tears in her eyes, whispered back. She said, "Teddy,
you have it all wrong. You were the one who taught me that I could make a
difference. I didn't know how to teach until I met you."
Warm someone's heart today.... Pass it along.
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