As she stood in front of her 5th grade class on the very first day of the school, she told the children an untruth.
Like most teachers she looked at her students and said she loved them all the same. However that was impossible, because there in the front row, slumped in the seat was a little boy name Teddy Stoddard.
Mrs. Thompson had watched Teddy the year before and noticed that he did not play well with other children, that his clothes were messy, and that he constantly needed a bath. In addition, 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, marking bold X’s and then putting a big “F” at the top of this papers.
At the school where Mrs. Thompson taught, she was required to review each student pas records and she put Teddy’s off until the last. However when she reviewed his file, she was in for a surprise.
Teddy’s 1st 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 2nd 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 3rd grade teacher wrote,
“Teddy’s 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 are not taken.”
His 4th grade teacher wrote,
“Teddy is withdrawn and doesn’t show much interest in school. He doesn’t have many friends and he sometimes sleeps in class.”
By now Mrs. Thompson realised the problem and she was ashamed of herself.
She felt even worse when her students brought her Christmas presents, wrapped beautifully in bright ribbons and paper, except for Teddy’s, whose present was clumsy and wrapped in heavy brown paper, that he would have 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 the rhinestone bracelet with some of the stones missing and a bottle of perfume that was only one quarter full.
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 on after school that day just long to say,
“Mrs Thompson, today you smelled just like my mom used to.”
After the children left, she cried for a long time.
On that very day, she quit teaching reading, 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 on of the smartest children in class. And, despite her lie that she loved all the children the same, Teddy became on of her “pets”.
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 life.
Six years went by before she got another letter from Teddy. He then wrote that 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 received another note saying that while things had been tough at times, he still stayed in school, had stuck with it, and would soon graduate with the highest honours. He assured Mrs. Thompson that she was still the best and most favourite 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 most favourite teacher he ever had in his whole life. But now the name was little longer… the letter was signed, Theodore F. Stoddard, MD.
The story does not end here. There was yet another letter that spring. Teddy said that he met this girl who he was going to marry.
He explained that his father had died a couple of years ago and the was wondering if Mrs. Thompson would agree to sit at the wedding in the place 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 missing rhinestones. Moreover, she also remembered to wear the perfume that Teddy’s mother wore on the last Christmas they spent together.
They hugged each other, and Dr. Stoddard whispered in Mrs. Thampson’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, “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 till I met you.”
You could have a Teddy standing in front of you and yet not realize it . . .
Warm someone’s heart today. I love this story so much. Just try to make a difference in someone’s life today, tomorrow.. Just do it.
I found this story in an old email. Do not know the author.
Let me know if you know the author of this story.