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Lesson Plans

[Fwd: Fwd: The power of our presence]

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anne roberts (aroberts)
Mon, 11 May 1998 19:20:06 -0400

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Date: Thu, 7 May 1998 10:47:15 -0400
Subject: The power of our presence
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Dear Ones
A friend sent me this. It was so touching I had to send it to someone so
here you go.


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 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 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 Teddy's fourth-grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is withdrawn and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

Her children brought her presents, all in gay 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, 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 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. You'll have to decide
yourself whether or not she wore that bracelet, the one with several
rhinestones missing. But, I bet on that special day, Jean Thompson
smelled just like...well, just like she smelled many years before, on
that last day of school, before the Christmas Holiday began.

You never can tell what type of impact you may make on another's life by
your actions or lack of action. Sometimes just a smile on the street to
a passing stranger can
make a difference we could never imagine. Wouldn't it be nice if we all
could be aware of the impact we have on people? Because we will, whether
we choose what kind of impact it is or not.