Mrs. Thompson had seen Teddy in the halls for several years before he became a fifth grader. She was not looking forward to having him in her class. She had a rather large class and dozens of papers to grade every day. The last thing she needed was another under achiever who needed extra help and rewarded her diligence with bad behavior. He didn’t try very hard and often showed up to class looking messy, hair uncombed and clothes not clean
But the school year began and she tried to make the best of it and give Teddy a fair chance before judging him too harshly.
Then came Christmas. All the students got Mrs. Thompson gifts wrapped in colorful wrapping paper with beautiful bows and ribbons. But when it came time for Teddy to give Mrs. Thompson her gift he carried forward a small package wrapped in paper from a brown paper grocery bag. She opened it and inside were a bracelet with some of the rhinestones missing and a bottle of cheap perfume than was more than half empty. Some of the children began to snicker and laugh. But she was smart enough to act delighted and put on some of the perfume.
Later Teddy came up and stood near her and said very quietly, Mrs. Thompson, you look just as beautiful as my mother when you wear that bracelet. And you smell just like her when you wear that perfume. He looked at her with admiration in his eyes.
She began thinking about Teddy after class that day. She realized that he had always been kind to her, even when some of the other students had not. She decided to look at his files and see what his previous teachers had written about him.
1st grade: Teddy shows promise but has very poor home situation
2nd grade: Teddy could do better but mother is seriously ill.
3rd grade: Teddy is a good boy but distracted, his mother died this year.
4th grade: Teddy shows no interest in school work and is not doing well. He has become very quiet and withdrawn, his father seems to show no interest in him.
Mrs. Thompson wiped away tears from her eyes. The next morning the students had a new teacher. She took off her eyes of judgment and put on eyes of love. She understood why Teddy was so distracted and apathetic.
Mrs. Thompson decided to make Teddy her special project. She gave him extra time and tutoring and found he was grateful for it, whereas when she had done this with other students they resented the extra work they were asked to do.
He finished elementary school and she didn’t see him again for a long time. But she got a letter from him telling her that he had graduated from high school second in his class. Later she got another letter saying that he had graduated from college first in his class. Then some years later she got another letter from Teddy saying he had graduated from medical school and was now a doctor. Not only that, he was getting married and wondered if she would be willing to sit where his mother would have sat in the wedding.
As she finished reading the letter she realized that the extra love and attention she had showed Teddy steered him away from a life of failure. She had quit judging him and realized that he had potential, but no one else was willing to help him.
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