I Thessalonians 5:14
I thought I would share with you a heart warming story rumored to be true about a fifth grade student named Teddy. The story begins the first day of school with an opening address from his teacher, Mrs. Thompson. She began by telling Teddy and his fellow classmates 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 needed a bath. And Teddy could be also being quite unpleasant in his behavior.
As the year progressed for Mrs. Thompson she got more and more frustrated with Teddy; for nothing she did changed his habits or behavior. She even got to the point with Teddy where she began taking 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 big 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 Teddy. 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 Teddy’s fourth grade teacher wrote, “Teddy is withdrawn and doesn’t show much interest in school.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 and knew she needed to do something to rectify her actions toward Teddy. As Christmas vacation approached many of her students brought Christmas presents. They were all wrapped up in beautiful ribbons and bright paper. But not Teddy’s present, his was clumsily wrapped in 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 abruptly stopped the children’s laughter and exclaimed how pretty the bracelet was. She put it on, and dabbed 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 mom used to.” After he left, she cried for at least an hour. On that very day, she decided to change how she was going to work with Teddy the rest of the year. When he came back from vacation she paid particular attention to him. She worked with him, encouraged him, and helped him in every way. By the end of the year, Teddy became one of the smartest children in her class.
A year later, she found a note under her door from Teddy telling her that she was 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, third in his class, and she was still the best teacher he ever had his whole life. Four years after that, she got another letter, saying that while things have been tough at times, he had 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 the best teacher he had ever had in his whole life. Four more years passed and yet another letter came. This time, he explained that he had decided to go a little further and got his medical degree. The letter explained that she was still the best teacher he had ever had in his life. But now his name was a little longer – the letter was signed Dr. Theodore F. Stoddard, M.D.
The story doesn’t end there
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. 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 before and was wondering if Mrs. Thompson might agree to sit in the place at the wedding that was usually reserved for the mother of the groom. Of course Mrs. Thompson did and guesses 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 making me feel important and for showing me that I could make a difference.” Mrs. Thompson, with tears in her eyes, whispered back “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.” 1
Read the story of Teddy to your family, and ask your children to tell you who their favorite teacher is? Ask them to describe what made their particular teacher so special. Then ask them to identify any possible Teddy’s at school. If there are any girls like Teddy, then include them too. Afterward take time with your children to pray for these kids. Then read and comment on the Scriptures below about bringing comfort and encouragement to others who are downtrodden. Finally, make an action plan to reach out to at least one particular Teddy or girl like him at school, including perhaps, bringing him or her to your home to play with your children on occasion. If you do this then don’t forget to take a picture of him or her to remind you to always reach out to the Teddy’s of this world. There will be plenty of them down the road.
II Corinthians 1:3-5 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.