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Martin's Corner is proud to bring you this very heart-warming story in detail to give you a break away from the norm in your everyday life. So, take it all in as you began with that favorite cup of coffee...
As she stood in front of her 5th grade class on the very first day of school, Mrs. Thompson 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 she 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 she taught, she was required to review each child's past records and she put Teddy's off until last. However, when she got around to his file, she was in for a big surprise.
In his file were notes on his review since 1st grade. 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 Teddy's fourth grade teacher wrote, “Teddy is withdrawn and doesn't show much interest in school.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 sleeps in class.”
By now, Mrs. Thompson realized the problem was not because he was a problem child…..but that he had big personal problems and she was ashamed of herself. She felt even worse when all of her students brought Christmas presents for her wrapped in beautiful ribbons and bright paper! That is, all but Teddy. His present was clumsily wrapped in the heavy, brown paper that he had obviously gotten from a grocery bag. Mrs. Thompson took pains to open Teddy’s gifts right in the middle of all 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 scolded the children's laughter when she exclaimed how pretty the bracelet was! She stopped and put it on! She even dabbed a drop or two 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 the class room, she sat down and cried for at least an hour. On that very day, she decided to stop teaching reading, writing and arithmetic. Instead, she was going to start actually teaching children. She 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 her favorite….one of her “teacher's pets.” A year later, she found a note under her school room door from Teddy, telling her that she was the best teacher he ever had in his whole life.!
Well, 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 his 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 received 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 bit longer, and had more exact authority connected to it!. The letter was signed, Theodore F. Stoddard, MD.!
The story does not end here. 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 with him 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 so many years before.
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 really know how to teach until I met you.”
Now, for you folks that may not know, today Teddy Stoddard is the Doctor at Iowa Methodist in Des Moines that has the Stoddard Cancer Wing.
In summary review, I hope this has warmed your hearts today as it has mine every time I’ve read it. I love this story so very much, I just about cry every time! My wish for each of you that read Martin’s Corner routinely is that you find a way to make a difference in someone's life today. Just “do it”, okay! You’ll feel really good about it. Random acts of kindness — that’s what they call it!
Think about it this way: If anyone says it just can’t happen, then that person (in my opinion) should not interrupting the person (you) that is going to “get it done”!
I want to send out a great big “THANK YOU” to my buddy Randy Bentley for loving this story enough to send it to me…..Thanks Pal…..You’re the best!
I hope you enjoyed the time it took for you to read and soak up this story. I firmly believe that this story has implications of goodness for all of you no matter what your job is in the wonderful industry of ours! Now, get back to work and find someone along the way that could use a helping hand! You’ll be glad you did! Blessings, and I’ll see ya in the New Year. Hoping you all have a wonderful Holiday Season!