With Mother’s Day approaching, I would like to take a few minutes to talk about my mom. As the youngest of six children, you would think time with my mom would have been a blur between the running back-and-forth between games, school, cooking, and cleaning. Not to mention the amount of laundry that wonderful woman has done in her lifetime. My mom is not your typical, busy mother of six. No, my mom has the ability to, in a moment, look at me with only the sweet twinkle in her eye, or with the impossible softness of her hands, show me an undying love I will only understand when I become a mother. Even when I disobeyed, which was often, or ate that big bowl of strawberries I was told would give me hives, my mother would always be the one lifting me up, patching my wounds, and telling me everything would be all right. Even now on my hardest and most downtrodden days, I crave a simple hug from my mother because somehow she can fix even my biggest mistake or heartbreak with a flick of her hand and sometimes a big bowl of mac and cheese. Now this is not to say my mother is a perfect woman, because she is not. But with the love in her heart she has been able to move mountains for not only me but all her children.
Okay, so I really love my mom. So what? Well, I promise there is a point to all the ooey-gooey talk. As we enter the classroom and look across the room, some sweet little boys and girls will not have moms like mine. No, some parents will be too busy with work or other commitments to wipe away their children’s tears and lovingly tell them that everything will be alright. But then where do they receive the love and commitment of a parent? The answer is simple but daunting–their teachers. We know them; we try to love them even though at times it is a test of patience. Each child that enters our classroom deserves to feel unconditionally loved. By no means am I saying that we take the place of a parent, but we do fill the role of a loved one. Show each student that they are special and important, that amidst all the chaos, they are noticed and are making a difference. They need it. I believe that only through showing the unconditional love of a parent will the students reach their full potential, academically and otherwise. This story really touched my heart, and although I know there maybe some grammatical issues in his writing, I believe this story needs to be heard.
The Teacher and Little Teddy Stoddard
“As she stood in front of her 5th grade class on the very 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 Stoddard.
Mrs. Thompson had watched Teddy the year before and noticed that he did not play well with the other children, that his clothes were messy and that he constantly needed a bath. In addition, 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 he 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 quit teaching reading, 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 one of her “teacher’s pets..”
A year later, she found a note under her 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, third in his class, and she was still the best teacher he ever had in life.
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 had 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 a little longer…. The letter was signed, Theodore F. Stoddard, MD.”
By David Emery
Mrs. Thompson had the courage to be more than an educator and became a “loved one.” Only then was she able to make a lasting difference. I promise that by showing unconditional love like my mom, those we teach will be changed and lifted up to great and almost unimaginable heights.