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The Power of Love

The Power of Love by Elizabeth Silance Ballard

There is a story many years ago of an elementary teacher. Her name was Mrs.
Thompson. And as she stood in front of her 5th grade class on the very first
day of school, she told the children a lie. She looked at her students and said
that she loved them all the same. But 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 didn't play
well with the other children, that his clothes were messy and that he
constantly needed a bath. And Teddy could be unpleasant. It got tot he 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 mannershe 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Teddy's fourth grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is withdrawn and doesn't show much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 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 quite teaching
reading, and 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 on of her "teacher's pets."

A year later, she found a note under he 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, second 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 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 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 going to be married. He explained that
his father had died a couple of years and he was wondering if Mrs. Thompson
might agree to sit I the place at the weeding 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. And 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 make 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."

Warm someone's heart today Pass this story along.
Never underestimate the Power of Purpose.
Yesterday is history,
Tomorrow is a mystery,
Today is a gift,
That's why it's called the "Present".

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