THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK: The story of little Teddy Stoddart

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MRS Thompson was an elementary school-teacher and when she stood in front of the class on the very first day of school, she told the children a lie.

She looked at her students and said she loved them all the same.

But this was impossible, because there in the front row, slumped in his seat, was a boy named Teddy Stoddart.

Mrs. Thompson had watched Teddy the year before and noticed that he did not play well with the other children, and that his clothes were messy. And Teddy could be unpleasant.

It got the point where she would actually take delight in marking his papers with a broad red pen, marking bold ‘X’s and then putting a big ‘F’ at the top of his papers.

Now she was required to review each child’s past records and she put Teddy’s off until the last. However, when she reviewed his file, she got quite 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.”

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 penned, “His mother’s death has been hard on him.” Teddy’s fourth grade teacher added,” Teddy is withdrawn and doesn’t show much interest in school. ”

Mrs. Thompson read those comments and 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 loosely wrapped in the heavy brown paper that he got from a grocery bag.

Some of the children started to laugh when she found a rhinestone bracelet with one of the stones missing, and a bottle that was a quarter full of perfume.

But she stifled the children’s laugh when she exclaimed how pretty the bracelet was, putting it on, and dabbing some of the perfume on her wrist.

Teddy stayed after school that day, long enough to say: “Mrs. Thompson, today you smell just like my mum used to.”

On that date she quit teaching reading, writing and arithmetic. Instead, she began to teach 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.

A year late she found a note under her door, from Teddy, telling her that she was still the best teacher he had had in his whole life.

For years after that, she got a letter, from Teddy, expressing his appreciation of all her help. More years passed and another letter came.

The letter explained she still was the best and favourite teacher he had ever had. But now his name was a little longer-the letter was signed Theodore F. Stoddart M.D.

The story does not end there.

You see, there was yet another letter that spring. He was wondering if, at his forthcoming marriage, Mrs. Thompson might agree to sit in the place reserved for the mother of the groom.

Of course, Mrs. Thompson did. Moreover, she wore that bracelet, the one with several rhinestones missing. And she made sure she was wearing the perfume that Teddy remembered his mother wearing on their first Christmas together.

They hugged each other, and Dr. Stoddart whispered in Ms. Thompson’s ear “Thank you Mrs. Thompson for believing in me.” 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”.