A Lesson to Teach

Her name was Mrs. Thompson. As she stood in front of her 5th grade class onthe very first day of school, she told the children a lie.

Like most teachers, she looked at her students and said that she loved themall the same. But that was impossible, because there in the frontrow,slumped in his seat, was a little boy named Teddy Stoddard.

Mrs.Thompson had watched Teddy the year before and noticed that he didn'tplay well with the other children that his clothes were messy and that heconstantly needed a bath.And Teddy could be unpleasant. It got to thepoint where Mrs.Thompson would actually take delight in marking his paperswith a broad red pen, making bold X's and then putting a big "F" at the topof his papers.

At the school where Mrs. Thompson taught, she was required to review eachchild's past records and she put Teddy's off until last. However, when shereviewed his file, she was in for a surprise.

Teddy's first grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is a bright child with a readylaugh. He does his work neatly and has good manners...he is a joy to bearound."

His second grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is an excellent student, well likedby his classmates, but he is troubled because his mother has a terminalillness and life at home must be a struggle."

His third grade teacher wrote, "His mother's death has been hard on him. Hetries to do his best, but his father doesn't show much interest and his homelife will soon affect him if some steps aren't taken."

Teddy's fourth grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is withdrawn and doesn't showmuch interest in school. He doesn't have many friends and he sometimessleeps 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 was clumsily wrapped in the heavy, brown paper that he got froma 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 braceletwith some of the stones missing, and a bottle that was one quarter full ofperfume.

But she stifled the children's laughter when she exclaimed how pretty thebracelet 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 thechildren left she cried for at least an hour. On that very day, she quitteaching reading, and writing, and arithmetic. Instead, she began to teachchildren.

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 heresponded.

By the end of the year, Teddy had become one of smartest children in theclass and, despite her lie that she would love all the children the same,Teddy became one of her"teacher's pets."

A year later, she found a note under her door, from Teddy, telling her thatshe 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 thathe had finished high school, third in his class, and she was still the bestteacher he ever had in his whole life.

Four years after that, she got another letter, saying that while things hadbeen tough at times, he'd stayed in school, had stuck with it, and wouldsoon graduate from college with the highest of honors. He assuredMrs.Thompson that she was still the best and favorite teacher he ever had inhis whole life.

Then four more years passed and yet another letter came. This time heexplained that after he got his bachelor's degree, he decided to go a littlefurther. The letter explained that she was still the best and favoriteteacher he ever had. But now his name was a little longer -- the letter wassigned,Theodore F. Stoddard, MD.

The story doesn't end there. You see, there was yet another letter thatspring. Teddy said he'd met this girl and was going to be married. Heexplained that his father had died a couple of years ago and he waswondering if Mrs. Thompson might agree to sit in the place at the weddingthat 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 rhinestonesmissing. And she made sure she was wearing the perfume that Teddy rememberedhis mother wearing on their last Christmas together. They hugged eachother,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 couldmake a difference."

Mrs. Thompson, with tears in her eyes, whispered back. She said, "Teddy, youhave it all wrong. You were the one who taught me that I could make adifference.I didn't really know how to teach until I met you."

Please remember that wherever you go, and whatever you do, you will have theopportunity to touch and/or change a person's outlook.

Please try to do it in a positive way:"Friends are angels who lift us to our feet when our wings have troubleremembering how to fly"


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