As she stood in front of her 5thÂ grade class on the very first day of school, she told the children an untruth.Â Like most teachers, she looked at her students and said that she loved them all the same.Â However, that was impossible, because there in the front row, slumpedÂ in his seat, was a little boy named TeddyÂ Stoddard.Â Â Mrs. Thompson had watched TeddyÂ the year before and noticed that he did not play well with the other children,Â that his clothes were messy and that he constantly needed a bath.
In addition,Â Teddy could be unpleasant.Â It got to the point where Mrs. Thompson wouldÂ actually take delight in marking his papers with a broad red pen, making boldÂ X’s and then putting a big ‘F’ at the top of hisÂ papers.
At the school where Mrs. ThompsonÂ taught, she was required to review each child’s past records and she put Teddy’s off until last.Â However, when she reviewed his file, she was in for aÂ surprise.Â Teddy’s first grade teacher wrote,Â ‘Teddy is a bright child with a ready laugh. Â He does his work neatly and has goodÂ manners … he is a joy to be around..’
HisÂ second grade teacher wrote, ‘Teddy is an excellent student, well liked by hisÂ classmates, but he is troubled because his mother has a terminal illness andÂ life at home must be a struggle.’
His third grade teacher wrote,Â ‘His mother’s death has been hard on him. He tries to do his best, but hisÂ father doesn’t show much interest, and his home life will soon affect him ifÂ some steps aren’t taken.’
Teddy’sÂ fourth grade teacher wrote, ‘Teddy is withdrawn and doesn’t show much interestÂ in school. He doesn’t have many friends and he sometimes sleeps inÂ class.’
By now, Mrs. Thompson realized the problem and she was ashamed of herself.Â She felt even worse when her studentsÂ brought her Christmas presents, wrapped in beautiful ribbons and bright paper,Â except for Teddy’s. His present was clumsily wrapped in the heavy, brown paperÂ that he got from a grocery bag. Mrs. Thompson took pains to open it in theÂ middle of the other presents. Some of the children started to laugh when sheÂ found a rhinestone bracelet with some of the stones missing, and a bottle thatÂ was one-quarter full of perfume. But she stifled the children’s laughter whenÂ she exclaimed how pretty the bracelet was,
putting it on, and dabbing some ofÂ the perfume on her wrist. Teddy Stoddard stayed after school that day just longÂ enough to say, ‘Mrs. Thompson, today you smelled just like my Mom usedÂ to.’
After the children left, she cried for at least an hour. On that very day, she quit teaching reading, writing andÂ arithmetic. Instead, she began to teach children. Mrs. Thompson paid particularÂ attention to Teddy.
As she worked with him, his mind seemed to come alive. TheÂ more she encouraged him, the faster he responded. By the end of the year, TeddyÂ had become one of the smartest children in the class and, despite her lie thatÂ she would love all the children the same, Teddy became one of her ‘teacher’sÂ pets..’
A year later, she found a noteÂ under her door, from Teddy, telling her that she was the best teacher he everÂ had in his whole life.
Six years went by before she got another note from Teddy. He then wroteÂ that he had finished high school, third in his class, and she was still the bestÂ teacher he ever had in life.
Four years after that, she gotÂ another letter, saying that while things had been tough at times, he’d stayed inÂ school, had stuck with it, and would soon graduate from college with the highestÂ of honours. He assured Mrs. Thompson that she was still the best and favouriteÂ teacher he had ever had in his whole life.
Then four more years passed andÂ yet another letter came. This time he explained that after he got his bachelor’sÂ degree, he decided to go a little further. The letter explained that she wasÂ still the best and
favourite teacher he ever had. But now his name was a littleÂ longer….
The letter was signed, Theodore F. Stoddard,Â MD.
The story does not end there. YouÂ see, there was yet another letter that spring. Teddy said he had met this girlÂ and was going to be married.Â He explained that his father had died a couple ofÂ years ago and he was
wondering if Mrs. Thompson might agree to sit at theÂ wedding in the place that was usually reserved for the mother of the groom.Â
Of course, Mrs. Thompson did. And guess what? She wore that bracelet, the one withÂ several rhinestones missing. Moreover, she made sure she was wearing the perfumeÂ that Teddy remembered his mother wearing on their last ChristmasÂ together.
They hugged each other, and Dr.Â Stoddard whispered in Mrs. Thompson’s ear, ‘Thank you Mrs. Thompson forÂ believing in me. Thank you so much for making me feel important and showing meÂ that I could make a
difference.’Â Â Mrs. Thompson, with tears in herÂ eyes, whispered back. She said,Â ‘Teddy, you have it all wrong. You were the oneÂ who taught me that I could make a difference. I didn’t know how to teach until IÂ met you.’
For you that don’t know, TeddyÂ Stoddard is the Doctor at Iowa Methodist in Des Moines that has the Stoddard CancerÂ Wing.
Jeanne,Â Job 8:10
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