A spark is all it takes to start a mighty engine. A sincere attention is all it’s needed to make a difference in someone’s life. Let’s be the spark and give our attention to someone who is in need. Who knows tomorrow is the day, we might find ourselves in the receiving end. Because giving is the first step of receiving.
The Teddy Stallard Story
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 impossible, 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, 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 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 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.”
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“Teddy is withdrawn and doesn’t show much interest in school.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 he sometimes sleeps in class.”
By now, Miss 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. 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 just long enough to say,
“Miss Thompson, 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 Thompson 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 her 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 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 Thompson that she was still the best and favorite teacher he’d ever had. Then four more years passed, and yet another letter came. After he got his bachelor’s 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 he’d met this 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 Thompson might agree to sit at the wedding in the place that was usually reserved for the mother of the groom.
Of course, Miss Thompson 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 Thompson’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 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!”
“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 your venture through life, and just try to make a difference in someone else’s life today.”
What impact do you have on someone’s life today? Please share this story with your friends and family if you like it.