Monday, May 27, 2013

Being The Change: Friends Can Be Angels

BEING THE CHANGE: Friends Can Be Angels 

It was the first day of a new school and a new school year for Mrs. Thompson and as usual she told her class that she loved them all.

However, she soon changed her mind when she looked at Teddy Stoddard, slumped in the front seat with his messy clothes and his great need for a bath. A child told her that he had been a disaster the year before and inside a few days she found it gave her great pleasure to make bold X's all over his sloppy work, work that was never right.

Before Mrs. Thompson wrote her end of term reports, she reviewed the past records of the whole class and when she came to Teddy's she got a surprise. "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." But, that was three long years ago. Then one year later, she is reading that Teddy is now living with a mother who is terminally ill and his teacher is writing that life at home must be a struggle. And the following year, she reads that Teddy's mother has died and the teacher is writing that if something isn't done soon, Teddy's home life will become too much for him.

By this time Mrs. Thompson is feeling ashamed of herself and this is made worse when her students bring her Christmas presents, neatly wrapped and decorated with gold and silver: except for Teddies which was in an old brown paper bag.

The children laughed when they saw the rhinestone bracelet with stones missing and a quarter bottle of perfume that Mrs Thompson took from the bag. But she soon stopped the sniggering by putting on the bracelet, said how beautiful it was and she then splashed some perfume on her wrists and told the class how much she loved the scent. And so she should have done for they were the last memories that Teddy had of his mum and what the teacher said made him feel so proud.

Teddy stayed after class to tell Mrs. Thompson that she smelled just like his mum used to.

That day changed Mrs. Thompson's life. She stopped her organised teaching of subjects and began to help the children where they needed most help and this gave her time to look after Teddy better as well as the other children in her class who had problems. A year later, Teddy put a note under her door, telling her she was the best teacher he'd ever had in his life. Six years later Mrs. Thompson got another letter from Teddy, telling her that he was now finishing high school, third in his class and that she was still the best teacher he'd ever had in his whole life.

More years passed by and Mrs. Thompson got another letter telling her that Timothy had now finished College and that she was still the best teacher he'd ever had in his life: signed Timothy Stoddart M.D.

The next Spring came another letter telling Mrs. Thompson that Timothy's father had died two years back, that he was getting married and wanted Mrs. Thompson to take the place of his parents at the wedding. Of course she went, wearing the bracelet with the rhinestones missing and she also wore the perfume Timothy's mum used to wear so long ago.

When they hugged after the wedding, Timothy thanked her for believing in him, for making him feel important when he was at his lowest and showing him that he could make a difference. When he'd finished, Mrs Thompson whispered back to him: "Sorry Timothy, but you've got this all wrong. It was you who taught me that I could make a real difference. It was after meeting you that I truly learned how to teach."

Doctor Stephen Wood who told this story says: "friends are angels who lift us to our feet when our own wings are in trouble."

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