Posted 28 August 2012 - 10:32 AM
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. That was an impossible statement because there in front of her, slumped in his seat on the third row was a little boy named Teddy Stoddard. He already had quite a caused many a teacher to not want him in their class. Mrs. Thompson had watched Teddy the year before and noticed he didn't play well with other children, that his clothes were unkept and that he constantly needed a bath. He was unpleasant to be around because he had a sore attitude toward anything good.
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's at the top of every paper he turned in. Truth is she had grown to dispise him being in her class. Teddy was a sullen little boy and no one seem to enjoy his company. At the school where Mrs. Thompson taught, the teachers were required to review each child's records and when it came time to do this she put Teddys off till the very last because of her disgust she had for him. When she finally opened his file she was unprepared for what she was about to read. His first grade teacher wrote, "He does his work neatly and has good manners...he is a joy to have in class."
His second grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is an excellent student well liked by his classmates, but he has sunk into having a troubled mind because his mother has a terminal illness and life at home has become a struggle. His has crying spells and the children make fun of him because they don't understand. "
His third grade teacher wrote' " Teddy continues to try to work hard but his mothers death has been hard on him. He has talked to me and all he wants is to be loved and hugged. He ask me if he could talk to me every once and a while and could i just give him a big hug just like his mother did. He says his father has taken to drinking and doesn't care to talk or spend time with him. She wrote that she was afraid his home life was gonna take a toll on Teddy if steps aren't taken to help."
Teddy's fourth grade teacher wrote, " Teddy is withdrawn and doesn't show much interest in school. He doesn't care to have friends and at recess he just sits on the bench with his head down. He is tardy and could become a problem. This child needs help. The
look on Mrs. Thompson face said it all as she had tears rolling down in streams thinking how could she have passed judgement upon this poor little boy without knowing what made him that way. She was so ashamed of herself. She just sit and stairred at the records, it took two naphins to wipe up the tears and they were soaked. By now Mrs. Thompson realized the problem with Teddy but then Christmas break was just about there and there again was a sad time for the little boy she so had judged wrong.
And what will happen when the children all bring small gifts to her as it was a custom, how will this effect Teddy. She found her focus strickly on Teddy and trying right the wrongs surrounding him. It came the day the children brought they presents to her and all were wrapped in ribbons and pretty paper all except for Teddy's which was clumsily wrapped in a heavy brown paper bag from a grocery store. Mrs. Thompson made sure that she would open it in the middle of all the presents. When she started to open it some of the children started to laugh and there inside she found a rhimestone bracelet with some of the stones missing and a bottle that was only half full of perfume. She stifled the children's laughter when she exclaimed how pretty the bracelet was, putting it on and dabbing some of the perfume on. Teddy Stoddard stayed behind after the other children went out of the classroom just long enough to tell Mrs. Thompson, "today you smell just like my mom used to and he had the biggest grin on his face.
After all the children including Teddy had left the classroom, she broke down and cried for a hour. On that day she vowed to never place judgement upon another child. Now she was so glad that she had had a chance to have Teddy in her class. After Christmas break was over and the children returned it was a new day, a new beginning, a lesson well learned. She worked hard with Teddy and again his mind seem to come alive. The more she encouraged him the faster he responded. On the days where there would be an important test, Mrs. Thompson would wear that perfume just for him and his face just gleamed with excitement and he made straight A's. By the end of the year he had become one of the smartest children in her class and...well, he had also become sorta the teachers pet.
Several years after Teddy got to high school, she found a note, saying that of all the teachers in elementary shcool she was his favorite. Six years went by before she got another one. 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 later after that she got another letter, saying that while things had been tough at times, he'd stayed in school stuck with it and would graduate from college with the highest of honors. He assured Mrs. Thompson she was still his favorite teacher. Another four 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 and of course the letter again said she was his all time favorite teacher and now his name was a little bit longer. Theodore F. Stoddard M.D. He finally wanted to tell her that she was the reason for his will power and his drive to reach for the best. and that if his mother was still alive she would certainly have wanted to have known her and that she will always have a place in his heart. He said without you I probably would have been in prison or worse a bum with no future.
The story doesn't end there, you see, there was yet another letter that Spring. Teddy said he's met a girl and was to be married and that his daddy had drinked himself to death several years ago. Teddy asked Mrs. Thompson if she would sit on his side of the church pews and be part of his family usually reserved for the mother of the groom. And guess what on that day, in comes Mrs. Thompson all dressed up wearing that bracelet and perfume, smiling as if that were her son getting married that day. Yes, Jean Thompson smelled just like the way Teddy's remembered his mother smelling on their last Christmas together.
Moral of the story is:: You never can tell what type of impact you may make on another's life by your actions or lack of action. It is easy to sit in judgement of another but it is wrong. Just in the case of teddy a little boy from a back ground only known in his records. Mrs. Jean Thompson was caring enough to make a difference in his life and it was one he would never forget.