October 20, 2005
Forward courtesy of Ronald Ross <email@example.com>
As she stood in front of her 5th grade class on the very first
day of school, she told the children an untruth. Like most teachers, she
looked at her young students and said that she loved them all the same.
However, 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 did not play well with the other children, that his clothes were
often 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,
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 reviewing his long term school 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Teddy's fourth grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is withdrawn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
he sometimes sleeps in class."
By now, Mrs. Thompson realized the cause of 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 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 only one-quarter
full of perfume. But she stifled the children's laughter when she exclaimed
how pretty the bracelet was, putting it on, and immediately dabbing some
perfume on her wrist.
Teddy Stoddard stayed after school that day --- just long enough to summon
up the courage
to say, "Mrs.Thompson, today you smelled just like my Mom used to."
After all the children left, she sat at her desk and cried
for an hour.
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 one of the smartest
children in the class and, despite her lie that she would love all the children
the same, it was Teddy who became one of her "teacher's pets."
A year later, she found a note under her door, from Teddy,
telling her that she was the best teacher he ever had in his whole life.
Six years went by before she got another note from Teddy.
He then wrote that he had finished high school, ranked third in his class,
and she was still the best teacher he ever had in life.
Four years after that, another letter arrived, saying that
while things had been tough at times, he'd stayed in school, had stuck with
it, and would soon graduate from college with the highest honors. He assured
Mrs. Thompson that she was still the best and favorite teacher he had ever
had in his whole life.
Then four more years passed and 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 just a little longer....
The letter was signed, "Theodore F. Stoddard, MD."
The story does not end there. You see, there was yet another
letter that spring. Teddy said he had met this girl and was going to be
married. He explained that his father had died several years before and
he was wondering if Mrs. Thompson might 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 do I need to tell you she wore that bracelet, the one with several rhinestones
missing. Moreover, 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.
"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
"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
(For you who would not know, Teddy Stoddard is the Dr. at
Iowa Methodist in Des Moines the one that has the Stoddard Cancer Wing.)
Go on, warm someone's heart today. . . you may even wish pass
this along. I love this story so very much, I cry every time I reread it.
Who knows, perhaps it might make a difference in someone's life today? Or
tomorrow? Just "do it".
Random acts of kindness, I believe they call it! " Believe
in Angels, then return the favor"
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