Original Author Unknown
Jean Thompson stood in front
of her fifth-grade class on the very first day of school in the fall and
told the children a lie. Like most teachers, she looked at her pupils and
said that she loved them all the same, that she would treat them all
alike. And that was impossible because there in front of her, slumped in
his seat on the third row, was a little black boy named Teddy Stoddard.
Mrs. Thompson had watched Teddy the year
before and noticed he didn't play well with the other children, that his
clothes were unkempt and that he constantly needed a bath. And Teddy was
unpleasant. It got to the point during the first few months that she would
actually take delight in marking his papers with a broad red pen, making
bold X's and then marking the F at the top of the paper biggest of all.
Because Teddy was a sullen little boy, no one else seemed to enjoy him,
At the school where Mrs. Thompson taught,
she was required to review each child's records and put Teddy's off until
last. When she opened his file, she was in for a surprise. His first-grade
teacher wrote, "Teddy is a bright, inquisitive 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, "Teddy continues to work hard but 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"Teddy is withdrawn and doesn't show much interest in school.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. He is tardy and
could become a problem."
By now Mrs. Thompson realized the problem
but Christmas was coming fast. It was all she could do, with the school
play and all, until the day before the holidays began and she was suddenly
forced to focus on Teddy Stoddard. Her children brought her presents, all
in beautiful ribbon and bright paper, except for Teddy's, which was
clumsily wrapped in the heavy, brown paper of a scissored 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
cologne. She stifled the children's laughter when she exclaimed how pretty
the bracelet was, putting it on, and dabbing some of the perfume behind
the other wrist. Teddy Stoddard stayed behind 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 speaking. Instead, she began to teach children. Jean Thompson paid
particular attention to one they all called "Teddy." As she
worked with him, his mind seemed to come alive. The more she encouraged
him, the faster he responded. On days there would be an important test,
Mrs. Thompson would remember that cologne. By the end of the year he had
become one of the smartest children in the class and...well, he had also
become the "pet" of the teacher who had once vowed to love all
of her children exactly the same.
A year later she found a note under her
door, from Teddy, telling her that of all the teachers he'd had in
elementary school, she was his favorite.
Six years went by before she got another
note from Teddy. He then wrote that he had finished high school, third in
his class, and she was still his favorite teacher of all time.
Four years after that, she got another
letter, saying that while things had been tough at times, he'd stayed in
school, had stuck with it, and would graduate from college with the
highest of honors. He assured Mrs. Thompson she was still his favorite
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 his favorite teacher but that now his name was a little longer.
The letter was signed,
Theodore F. Stoddard, M.D.
The story doesn't end there. You see, there
was yet another letter that Spring. Teddy said he'd met this girl and was
to be married. He explained that his father had died a couple of years ago
and he was wondering...well, if Mrs. Thompson might agree to sit in the
pew usually reserved for the mother of the groom. And guess what, she wore
that bracelet, the one with several rhinestones missing. And I bet on that
special day, Jean Thompson smelled just like... well, just like the way
Teddy remembered his mother smelling on their last Christmas together.
THE MORAL: You never can tell what type of
impact you may make on another's life by your actions or lack of action.
Consider this fact in your venture thru life.