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Let's make a difference (The Teddy Stoddard story)
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A real inspirational story that will make you think (hopefully).

Published with the title "Three Letters from Teddy".

The story of Teddy Stoddard

Today I would like to tell you a story about a little boy called Teddy and a teacher called Jean Tomson, who made an important impact on him.

Jean Thompson stood in front of her 5fth grade class on the very first day of school in the fall and told the children a lie. Like most teachers, she looked at her pupils and said that she loved them all the same. And that was impossible, because there in the front row, slumped in his seat was a little boy named Teddy Stallard.

Miss Thompson had watched Teddy the year before and noticed that he didn't play well with other children, that his clothes were messy, and that he constantly needed a bath. And, Teddy was unpleasant.

It got to the point where Miss Thompson would actually take delight in marking
his papers with a broad red pen, making bold X's and then marking the "F" at the top of the paper, biggest of all.

Because Teddy was a sullen little boy, no one else seemed to enjoy him,  either.   At the school where Mrs. Thompson taught, she was required to review each child's records and put Teddy's off until last.  When she opened his file, she was in for a surprise.

His first grade teacher wrote:
"Teddy is a bright child with a ready laugh. He does his work neatly and has good manners. He is such 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:
"Teddy continues to work hard, but 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"Teddy is withdrawn and doesn't show much interest in school.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. He is tardy and could become a problem."

By now Mrs. Thompson realized the problem but Christmas was coming fast.  It was all she could do, with the school play and all, until the day before the holidays began and she was suddenly forced to focus on Teddy Stoddard.

Her children brought her presents, all in beautiful ribbon and bright paper, except for Teddy's, which was clumsily wrapped in the heavy, brown paper of a scissored 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 cologne.  She stifled the children's laughter when she exclaimed how pretty the bracelet was, putting it on, and dabbing some of the  perfume behind the other wrist. Teddy Stallard stayed after school that day just long enough to say,
"Mrs Thompson, today you smell 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 speaking. Instead, she began to teach children.

Jean Thompson paid particular attention to one they all called "Teddy."  As she worked with him, his mind seemed to come alive. The more she encouraged him, the faster he responded.  On days there would be an important test, Mrs. Thompson would remember that cologne. By the end of the year he had become one of the smartest children in the class and... well, he had also become the pet of the teacher who had once vowed to love all of her children exactly the same.

A year later she found a note under her door, from Teddy, telling her that of all the teachers he'd had in elementary school, she was his favourite.

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 his favourite teacher of all time.

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 graduate from college with the highest of honors. He assured Mrs. Thompson she was still his favourite teacher.

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 his favourite teacher but that now his name was a 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 to be married.  He explained that his father had died a couple of years ago and he was wondering... well,  if Mrs. Thompson might agree to sit in the pew usually reserved for the mother of  the groom.  And guess what, she wore that bracelet, the one with several rhinestones missing.  And I bet on that special day, Jean Thompson smelled just like... well, just like the way Teddy remembered his mother smelling on their last Christmas together.

They hugged each other, and Dr. Stoddard whispered in Mrss 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!

And the story ends here. You never can tell what type of impact you may make on another's life by your actions or lack of action. Consider this fact in your venture through life.

[and just try to make a difference in someone else's life today]

TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE (in somebody)= If you make a difference, you change things, if you make a difference in somebody, you change their life (a bit or a lot). If you say "I don't make a difference" you mean that it doesn't matter what you do because you can't change anything (that is usually an excuse for not doing nothing or for stopping trying)

5TH GRADE CLASS= A class of children who are at 5th grade. The fifth grade is the fifth school year after kindergarten. Students are usually 10 – 11 years old, and are preteens.

A LIE= Something which is not true.

SLUMPED= Sitting in a non straight-up position, as when one is half resting on the table because he's sleepy or bored or tired.

MESSY= Dirty and/or untidy.

TAKE DELIGHT IN MARKING= Loved marking, enjoyed marking.

PAPERS= Essays, exercises, etc. (homework students bring to the teacher for correction)

SULLEN= unsociable, gloomy, depressing.

SHE WAS REQUIRED TO= They ordered to, she had to.

BOLD= Bold letters are made with broader lines than usual so they are more noticeable.

"F"= Failed. In America marks are usually: A, B, C, D, F. A pass is from A (the best) to D (the worst), and a fail is an F.
In England marks are usually: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, U. A pass is from A (the best) to G (the worst) and a fail is an U (= "unclassified"), though when you finish your studies, many employers only accept A, B and C as a pass and consider the rest a fail. In many other countries they use numbers, usually 0 to 10 (10 is the maximum, 0 the minimum and under 5 is a fail)

PUT ... OFF= Postpone, leave for later.

SHE WAS IN FOR A SURPRISE= She was going to be surprised; a surprise was waiting for her.
FIRST GRADE= The first year of primary school (6-7 year-olds). In the UK we say "firt year", so "first-graders" are "first-years" or "first-year students".

BRIGHT= Intelligent.

A READY LAUGH= If you have a ready laugh you laugh easily and frequently.

NEATLY= In a tidy and nice way.

TROUBLED= Worried.

A TERMINAL ILLNESS= An illness that is going to kill you, a mortal disease that has no cure.

A STRUGGLE= Very complicated and difficult.

HARD ON HIM= Difficult for him.

TO DO HIS BEST= To do things as good as he possibly can.

SOME STEPS= Some action.

WITHDRAWN= Shy, not very social, solitary.

TARDY= Slow in progress.

FOCUS= If you focus ON something, you concentrate on it, you pay a lot of attention to it.

GROCERY= A shop that sells food.

TOOK PAINS TO...= Made an effort to...

RHINESTONE= Colourless artificial gem of paste or glass, often with facets that sparkle in imitation of a diamond or other precious stone.

STIFLE= Interrupt.

DABBING= To apply with short poking strokes.

WRIST= The part of your body where the hand joins the arm.

QUIT= Stopped doing it.

SMARTEST= (AmE) Most intelligent.
(in BrE, "smart" means "elegant", in AmE it means "intelligent")

THE PET OF THE TEACHER= The teacher's favourite students.
If your class mates tell you that you are the teacher's pet, that's an insult, and it means that the teacher treats you in a special way, better than the rest, probably because you are always trying to please the teacher in any way you can. But here, it's not used as an insult, only as a description.

HIGH SCHOOL (AmE)= Secondary School (BrE)

TOUGH= /tʌf/ Difficult.

COLLEGE (AmE)= University (BrE). If you graduate from college that means that you finish your studies at the university with a pass. If you graduate with the highest of honours, it means that you got top grades, you were one of the best students.

BACHELOR'S DEGREE= This varies depending on the country or even university, it may means you have completed three years of university studies or all 4, 5 or 6 years (depending on the duration of the studies)

M.D.= Doctor of Medicine (from the Latin Medicinæ Doctor)

PEW= A long bench used in church for people to sit down. (see picture)

GROOM= Short for "bridegroom", the male part of a wedding couple: the bride and the bridegroom.
When you start going out with a girl (or in AmE, when "you're dating"), you are boyfriend and girlfriend. When you go serious about it and decide to get married some day, you are fiancé (the man) and fiancée (the woman). On your wedding day you are bride and bridegroom, and after your wedding day you are husband and wife.

WHISPERED= Spoke very softly and low.

YOU HAVE IT ALL WRONG= You are completely mistaken, you didn't understand correctly.

LACK= Absence.
If there is a lack of something or something is lacking, it doesn't exist or is not there.

VENTURE= Adventure.

© Angel Castaño 2008 Salamanca / Poole - free videos to learn real English online || InfoPrivacyTerms of useContactAbout
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