Monday, August 29, 2011

the best teacher story I know

I read this story to Kaish last night before his first day of school.
I cried like a baby.
The first time I heard it I was at church.
I remember it was powerful.
I was only in elementary school at the time,
but I remember thinking about the kids in my class that stuck out
because they were not as cool.
I vowed to be nicer.
I can't remember if I kept my vow or not,
but I do remember thinking I would never forget this story.
 I have not.




An Inspirational Story by Elizabeth Silance Ballard
There is a story many years ago of an elementary teacher. Her name was Mrs. Thompson. And as she stood in front of her 5th grade class on the very first day of school, she told the children a lie. She looked at her students and said that she loved them all the same. 


But 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 didn't play well with the other children, that his clothes were messy and that he constantly needed a bath.
 And Teddy could be unpleasant. It got to the point where Mrs. Thompson 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 Mrs. Thompson taught, she was required to review each child's past records and she put Teddy's off until 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 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Teddy's fourth grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is withdrawn and doesn't show much interest in school.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 sometimes sleeps in class."

By now, Mrs. Thompson realized the problem and she 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 clumsily wrapped in the heavy, brown paper that he got from a 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 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 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 she cried for at least an hour,. On that very day, she quite teaching reading, and writing, and arithmetic. Instead, she began to teach children.
Mrs. Thompson 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 on of her "teacher's pets."

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

8.23.11
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 ever had in his whole life.

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 the best and favorite teacher he ever had. But now his name was little longer. The letter was signed, Theodore F. Stoddard, M.D.
The story doesn't end there. You see, there was yet another letter that spring. Teddy said he'd met this girl and was going to be married. He explained that his father had died a couple of years and he was wondering if Mrs. Thompson might agree to sit I the place at the weeding 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. And 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. Stoddard whispered in Mrs. Thompson's ear, "Thank you, Mrs. Thompson, for believing in me. Thank you so much for make 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 know how to teach until I met you." 

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49 comments:

Tamar SB said...

Oh my word - that was one of the most beautiful things I have ever read! Thank you for sharing this - thank you. I will make sure, above all else, that I teach my students this year as children, and see them for who they are and who they can become! Hope K had a great first day!

Mari said...

I've read that story before and it still gave me goosebumps to read it again! Did you know it's a true story? It's good to hear frequently!

Kylie and Amber said...

What an amazing story and oh so true! I have always been a sucker for an under dog and I am realising at the moment how important support and love can be!

My good friend lost her husband two weeks ago at age 35 and has left two little girls that are so bright and sweet!

I know she will be there to guide them through life, but having the responsibility of raising them now on her own and being the bread winner puts so much responsibility on her shoulders!

It takes a village to raise a child and I know she has a wonderful community that will rally around her with support and hopefully that will make all the difference!

Life can be so isolating sometimes! I am so glad you had could share such a beautiful and inspirational story with your child! It is funny how some stories just stick from childhood and can be so life changing!

Thank you Beck for such a gorgeous and meaningful story!

Secret Mom Thoughts said...

That is a beautiful story. It totally made me well up.

TheHouseWifeRookie said...

My very favorite teacher read us this story on the first day of school. I loved her for it and have remembered it always!

Teachinfourth said...

Being a teacher and reading this makes me think of my students...one in particular that I have in my class this year.

Thanks, R.

DysFUNctional Mom said...

Typing through my tears....
I have the utmost respect & admiration for good teachers. They truly do shape lives.
PS - that first picture is one of the cutest things I have ever seen in my life!!

Angela said...

What a beautiful story. Truly. Tears are in my eyes. Thank you so much for sharing this on your blog.

Tracy P. said...

Definitely one of my favorites! And boy, did you catch Kaish at a perfect moment--total silliness! Adorable. :-)

Pumpkin Delight (Kimberly) said...

Love it! Always so good to remember how much impact we have on their lives.

Leesha said...

Oh man. If that doesn't go to show what an impact a teacher can have on a child I dunno what does. I believe that story holds truth for a lot of both students and teachers out there.

Rachel said...

So very true - especially for those of us who aren't quite "typical" or struggle with something. A teacher can make an entire year better (and a lifetime - like this story).

Rachel said...

So very true - especially for those of us who aren't quite "typical" or struggle with something. A teacher can make an entire year better (and a lifetime - like this story).

Valeria said...

Very powerful. We can make a difference in our children's life. Thanks for sharing

Sue said...

I've read it, but I liked it just as much the second time!

=)

Sue said...

I've read it, but I liked it just as much the second time!

=)

Keetha Broyles said...

Being a teacher, that story has given me "pause" about how I treat each and every student ever since the first time I heard it!

oceangirl said...

I cried. Thank you for the story.

Colleen said...

I received that story in an email once and it is just so powerful! I always get tears in my eyes when I think of it. Also so true, it really reminds us to be kind because we never know what someone is going through...
Thank you so much for sharing Becky!

Gigi said...

No matter how many times I see/hear/read this story I cry. Never fails.

Hope Kaish had a great first day!

Seeing Each Day said...

Yes, have heard it before but as a teacher it doesn't hurt to hear it again and again. Thanks.

Christine said...

Ok, that story made me cry too! That's the 2nd thing that made me cry today and it's only 7:23am... I need to get off this computer!

Jade @ Tasting Grace said...

Oh you always have the best stories. I loved that line about how she quit teaching writing and arithmetic and started teaching children.

Maddy said...

Not sure where you find these little gems, but you do!! There's always so much more than meets the eye :) Thank God for teachers who recognize that!

Hilary said...

I have read this before and it's as touching today as it was at that time. Every child should have at least one teacher like this through their lives. My kids are blessed for each having had a few.

It's been a while since I've last visited and I see how much your handsome boy is growing. His face is maturing.. still very handsome and still full of character. Your photos, as always, are lovely.

tinajo said...

Beautiful story, too many kids live under similar conditions and not all are that lucky. Love it. :-)

keli [at] kidnapped by suburbia said...

such a beautiful story!

freckles & dimples said...

beautiful story....what a reminder of how important teachers can be & what a difference they can make. Unfortunately, Abby had a sub-par teacher last year that really affected her. I'm hoping her teacher this year has more nurturance, kindness and may even actually like her jog (gasp!)
have a good one :)
M

LceeL said...

Now? Now that story becomes the Best Teacher Story we both know. Thank you, for sharing.

Buckeroomama said...

I might wake up with puffy eyes tomorrow and I'll have you to thank for that!

A good teacher does make a world of difference. May our children be lucky enough to have a few teachers like Mrs. Thompson. :)

Busy Bee Suz said...

One person can make a world of difference. Thanks for the good cry this morning.
xo

tiarastantrums said...

I've read this before - but you are right - it still chokes oneself up!

McFarland-Higgins family said...

Positively beautiful. As a former teacher and mommy this really choked me up. Spectacular!

jen@odbt said...

Amazing story. Brought tears to my eyes. It really truly does show that one person can make a huge difference in a life.

Susan said...

Oh what a touching story!!

Loved all those amazing pictures as well.

The second to last picture of your boy is spectacular!! (not sure if I spelled that right?)

Anyhow, this was fantastic.

Can't think of enough great words for you Becky!

Hope you have a blessed day!

*Jess* said...

oh goodness, I am bawling like a baby!! And I can't blame it on pregnancy hormones. That was beautiful. Thank you for the reminder that we never know what's going on in other's lives.

Debby said...

I have heard that story and I love it. I love that frowny baby photo. So cute. They have such personalities at such an early age.

Kimberly said...

What a beautiful story. Do you have any idea how to get tears off a touch pad laptop mouse?

Team Lando said...

I got all teary. I want to be a teacher who ALWAYS teaches children. I hope I am. And I want Ellie to have teachers like that.

Megan (Best of Fates) said...

Yes, I am sappy enough to be crying after reading that story.

photowannabe said...

Sigh....tender and true.
I love the statement about the teacher not teaching math and reading anymore but teaching children.
If more teachers applied that principle maybe Your work Becky wouldn't be so difficult and demanding.

redheadreverie said...

And now I'm crying... ;-)

Jo Bryant said...

This was a fantastic start to my day. :)

Jennifer @ Studio JRU said...

I just listened to this story yesterday Becky... for the first time! I was just a big ol' softie with my tears. It was such a sweet story, and a good one to take a lesson from. Love all the fun photos! :)

Jessie said...

What a great story. I had not read it before. I hope that Kaishon had a fabulous first day!

Charmaine Poulin said...

Oh my gosh...what a story....it brought tears to my eyes!!! Hope your boy had a good first day....Jack said he's excited for tomorrow, so that's a good sign!

Adrienne in Ohio said...

Oh wow. I'm crying--that was so beautiful!

I hope Kaish has a great year. He is such an amazing kid--I can just tell. (How could he not be amazing with you for his mom???) ♥

Love this pics, too. Though I confess, I'm going to look through them again because I was so riveted by the story. :)

Sarah said...

Love the story and the photos. Hope you all are having a great week.

Renee said...

Wow, what an amazing story! It definitely made me cry. Thank you for sharing this, I really needed to read it. I think I'll share it with the people in my life as well. :)