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 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 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 she reviewed his 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
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withdrawn and doesn't show much interest in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 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 one-quarter full
of perfume.. 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 after school that day 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,
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, Teddy became one of her "teacher's 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 whole life. 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
the best teacher he ever had in life. 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
soon graduate from college with the highest of
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 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 favorite teacher he ever
had. But now his name was 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 a couple
of years ago 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 guess what? 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. 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 could make a difference." Mrs. Thompson, with
tears in her eyes, whispered back. She said,
"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 you! " (For
those of you who don't know, Teddy Stoddard is
the Dr. at Iowa Methodist in Des Moines that has
the Stoddard Cancer Wing.)
Warm someone's heart today. . pass this along. I
love this story so very much, I cry every time I
read it. Just try to make a difference in
someone's life today? Tomorrow? Just "do it".
Random acts of kindness, I think they call it?
"Believe in Angels, then return the favor.