Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Nice Moral: The Student And The Teacher

This is a very heartwarming story. It is rather long but do go through it. It shows the ability of a teacher to touch the lives of her students. Please read through and also watch the movie of the same story at the end.

As she stood in front of her 5th grade class on the 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 wrong, because there in the front row slumped in his seat was a little boy named Teddy Stallard. Miss Thompson had watched Teddy the year before and noticed that he didn’t play well with other children and that his clothes were messy, and that he constantly needed a bath. And, Teddy could be unpleasant. It got to the point where Miss Thompson would actually take delight in marking Teddy’s papers with a broad red pen making bold X’s and then putting a big ‘F” at the top of his paper.

At the school where Miss Thompson taught, 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 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 such a joy to be around. Teddy’s 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 Teddy’s fourth grade teacher wrote:”Teddy is withdrawn and doesn’t show much interest in school.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, Miss Thompson realized the problem and felt ashamed 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 a heavy brown paper that he got from a grocery bag. Miss Thompson took pains to open it in the middle of the other presents. Some of the students 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 Stallard stayed after school that day long enough to say, “Miss Thomson, today you smell 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. Miss Thomson paid particular attention to Teddy. As she worked with him his mind began 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 the door from Teddy, telling her that she was the best teacher he’d 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 his whole life.

Four years later after that, she got another letter, saying that while things had been tough at times; he’d stayed in school. He’d stuck with it and would soon graduate from college with the highest of honors. Again he assured Miss Thomson that she was still the best and favorite teacher he had ever had.

Then four more years passed, and another letter came. After he got his bachelors degree he had decided to go a little further. She was still the best and favorite teacher he’d ever had. But now his name was a little longer…the letter was signed “Theodore F Stallard M.D”.

The story does not end here. There was yet another letter that spring. Teddy said that he had met his girl and was going to be married” He explained that his father had died a couple of years ago, and he was wondering if Miss Thomson might agree to sit at the wedding in the place that was usually reserved for the mother of the groom. Of course Miss Thomson 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. Stallard whispered in Miss Thomsons’s ear: “Thank you for believing in me. Thank you so much for making me feel important and showing me that I could make a difference.” Miss Thomson with tears n 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”.

You can never tell what type of impact you may have on another’s life by your actions…or lack of action. Please consider this fact in all your ventures through life, and just try to make a difference in someone else’s life today.

This is a fictional story written by Elizabeth Silance Ballard; published in 1974 by “Home Life Magazine” as “Three Letters from Teddy”. You may purchase the book at Amazon here Three Letters from Teddy. You can also watch the lovely movie of this story at makeadifferencemovie Keep your speakers on.

Elizabeth Silance Ballard is a wife, mother, and grandmother of three, and works with the Department of Social Services in Virginia Beach, Virginia. She has B.S. in Human Services Counseling and has done extensive graduate work in that field. She is originally from North Carolina where she attended Wingate College. She is a graduate of Old Dominion College.

No comments: