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. And that was impossible because there in front
of her, slumped in his seat on the third row, was a little boy named Teddy
Stoddard. Mrs. Thompson had watched Teddy the year before and noticed he
didn't play well with the other children, that his clothes were unkempt and
that he constantly needed a bath. And Teddy was unpleasant. 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 at the top of the paper biggest of all. Because Teddy was a sullen
little boy, no one else seemed to enjoy him, either. At the school where
Mrs. Thompson taught, she was required to review each child's records and
she put Teddy's off until last. When she opened his file, she was in for a
surprise. His first-grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is a bright, inquisitive
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, "Teddy continues to work hard but 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 Teddy's fourth-grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is withdrawn and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
sometimes sleeps in class. He is tardy and could become a problem." By now
Mrs. Thompson realized the problem but Christmas was coming fast. It was all
she could do, with the school play and all, until the day before the
holidays began and she was suddenly forced to focus on Teddy Stoddard. Her
children brought her presents, all in beautiful ribbon and bright paper,
except for Teddy's, which was clumsily wrapped in the heavy, brown paper of
a scissored 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 cologne. She stifled the children's laughter when she
exclaimed how pretty the bracelet was, putting it on, and dabbing some of
the perfume behind the other wrist. Teddy Stoddard stayed behind 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,
she quit teaching reading, and writing, and speaking. Instead, she began to
teach children. Jean Thompson paid particular attention to one they all
called "Teddy." As she worked with him, his mind seemed to come alive. The
more she encouraged him, the faster he responded. On days there would be an
important test, Mrs. Thompson would remember that cologne. By the end of the
year he had become one of the smartest children in the class and... well, he
had also become the "pet" of the teacher who had once vowed to love all of
her children exactly the same. A year later she found a note under her door,
from Teddy, telling her that of all the teachers he'd had in elementary
school, she was his favorite. 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 his favorite teacher of all time. 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 graduate from
college with the highest of honors. He assured Mrs. Thompson she was still
his favorite teacher. Then four more 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. The letter explained that she was still his
favorite teacher but that now his name was a little longer. The letter was
signed, Theodore F. Stoddard, MD. The story doesn't end there. You see there
was yet another letter that Spring. Teddy said he'd met this girl and was to
be married. He explained that his father had died a couple of years ago and
he was wondering...well, if Mrs. Thompson might agree to sit in the pew
usually reserved for the mother of the groom. And guess what, she wore that
bracelet, the one with several rhinestones missing. And I bet on that
special day, Jean Thompson smelled just like... well, just like the way
Teddy remembered his mother smelling on their last Christmas together. THE
MORAL: You never can tell what type of impact you may make on another's life
by your actions or lack of action. Consider this fact in your venture
through life every cent, of course! Jims sig 5