A lesson:

THE PERFUME

     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 Teddy’s fourth grade teacher  wrote, "Teddy is withdrawn and doesn’t show much interest in school.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 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,  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.
     The  story  does  not end there. You see, there was yet another letter that spring.  Teddy  said  he  had  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 Mrs.  Thompson  might  agree to sit at the wedding in the place that was usually reserved for the mother of the groom. 
     Of  course,  Mrs. 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. Stoddard whispered in Mrs. Thompson’s ear,  "Thank  you Mrs.Thompson for believing in me. Thank you so much for making me feel important and showing me that I could make a difference."
     Mrs.  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.

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