Food for Thought

Duncan Chiu (
Sun, 15 Mar 1998 17:26:46 -0500

---------- Forwarded message ----------

> >Subject: Re: FW: This is long but worth reading
> >Date: Thursday, March 12, 1998 9:08 AM
> >
> >She right, it is very much worth reading.
> >
> >
> >Caswell Donna MSgt USAFE AIRPS/PL wrote:
> >
> >The Last Day of School" by Roy Exum as told by Tony Campolo(sociologist)

> >speaker - Annual Gathering of Men Breakfast in Chattanooga, Tenn.
> > Jean Thompson stood in front of her fifth-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, that would treat them all alike. And that was impossible because
> >there in front of her, slumped in his seat on the third row, was a boy
> >named Teddy Stoddard. Mrs. Thompson had watched Teddy the year before
> >and noticed he didn't play well with the other children, that his
> >clothes were unkempt and that he constantly needed a bath. And Teddy
> >was unpleasant. It got to the point during the first few months that
> >she 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. She 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, inquisitive 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, "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 Teddy's fourth-grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is withdrawn and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 gay 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 Stoddard stayed behind 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, and 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
> >favorite. 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 favorite 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 favorite 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 favorite 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. You'll have to decide
> >yourself whether or not she wore that bracelet, the one with several
> >rhinestones missing. But, I bet on that special day, Jean Thompson
> >smelled just like...well, just like she smelled many years before, on
> >that last day of school, before the Christmas Holiday began.
> >
> >That was something, wasn't it? You never can tell what type of impact
> >you may make on another's life by your actions or lack of action.
> >Sometimes just a smile on the street to a passing stranger can make a
> >difference we could never imagine.