Warm someone’s heart today with random acts of love. Your love can be the hands of God, reshaping the self-esteem of someone crushed by cruel circumstances beyond his or her control.
As Mrs. Thompson stood in front of her fifth 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.
The teacher had watched Teddy the year before and noticed that he did not play well with the other children, that his clothes were messy, that he constantly needed a bath. In addition, Teddy could be unpleasant. In the next days and weeks and months Mrs Thompson found out that this was true. She would actually take delight in marking his papers with a broad red pen, making bold ‘X’s, and then putting a big fat ‘F’ at the top.
At the school where Mrs. Thompson taught, she was required to review each child’s past record, 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 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Teddy’s fourth grade teacher wrote, ‘Teddy is withdrawn and doesn’t show much interest in school.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 sleep in class.’
By now, Mrs Thompson realized the problem, and she was ashamed of herself. She felt even worse when most of her students brought her Christmas presents, wrapped in beautiful ribbons and bright paper. One present stood out as so, so different. Teddy’s present was clumsily wrapped in the heavy, brown paper that he had obviously gotten 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 then dabbing some of the perfume on her wrist.
That day Teddy Stoddard stayed after school 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, Mrs. Thompson quit teaching reading, writing, and arithmetic. Instead, she began to teach children. And she paid particular attention to Teddy. As she worked with him, the faster he responded. By the end of the year, Teddy had become one of the smartest children in the class, and Teddy was one of her ‘teacher’s pets,’ despite her while lie that she would love all the children the same.
A year later, this teacher found a note from Teddy under her door, 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 wrote that he had finished high school, third in his class, and she was still the best teacher he ever had.
Four years after that, she got a third letter, saying that while things had been tough at times, he’d stayed in school and would soon graduate from college with the highest honors. He assured Mrs. Thompson that she was still the best teacher he had ever had in his whole life.
Then four more years passed, and yet a fourth letter came. This time Teddy said 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 E Stoddard, M.D.
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 attend the wedding and sit 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.
After the wedding, Teddy and his best and favorite teacher hugged each other. Then Dr Theodore 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.’
With tears in her eyes Mrs Thompson whispered back. "Teddy, you have it all wrong.’ She said. ‘You were the one who taught me that I could make a difference. I didn’t know how to teach until I met you.’