As we are all isolated in our homes due to the outbreak of the Corona Virus, I felt we might all enjoy a good, inspirational story to lift us up and brighten our day. Schools are closed, most of us work from home, and yet, willingly or not we take over the role of a teacher to our kids. I wanted to share with you a story about Teddy Stoddard and his teacher Mrs. Thompson that I’ve heard for the first time a few years ago when I watched a public lecture of Dr. Wayne Dyer.
A few weeks ago, when I was in Belgrade, I played this story about Teddy in audio form for my team, at the Novak Djokovic Foundation. I wanted to remind them how important it is the work we do, and how every teacher, every child, and every parent we reach with our work – will make a difference.
I am sharing this story with you now because I know it will strike a chord. During the worldwide lockdown due to Corona Virus, we are all forced to slow down, step back from our usual chores and stay home with our loved ones. Schools are closed, most of us work from home, and yet, we take the role of a teacher.
Take a moment to read this story about a little boy named Teddy. I am sure it will bring out the best in you.
“There’s a story from many years ago that tells of an elementary school teacher whose name was Mrs. Thompson. As she stood in front of her fifth-grade class on the first day of school, she told her children a lie. Like most teachers, she looked at her students and told them that she loved them all the same. But that simply was not true, 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. His clothes were messy and he constantly needed a bath. Teddy could be unpleasant at times. It got to the point where Mrs. Thompson would take delight in marking his papers with a broad red pen and making bold X’s and finally putting a Big “F” on the top of his papers.
At the school where Mrs. Thompson taught, she was required to review each child’s past records. She put Teddy’s off till last. When she finally 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’s a joy to be around.” His second-grade teacher wrote, “Teddy is an excellent student and well-liked by his classmates. But he’s 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. His home life will soon affect him if 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 he even 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 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 explained how pretty the bracelet was while putting it on and then dabbing some of the perfume on her wrist. Teddy Stoddard 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 this very day, she quit teaching reading, writing, and arithmetic and instead she began to teach children. Mrs. Thompson began to pay close attention to Teddy as she worked with him. As time went on, 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. Despite her lie, he had become one of her teacher’s pets. A year later she found a note under the door from Teddy telling her that she was the best teacher he had ever had in his whole life.
Six years passed by and to her surprise, another note came from Teddy. He wrote that he had finished high school third in his class and that she was still the best teacher that he had ever had in his whole life. Four years later, another letter came, saying that while things had been tough at times, he stayed in school and stuck with it and that he had graduated from college with the highest of honors. He assured Mrs. Thompson that she was still the very best and favorite teacher he had ever had in his whole life.
Four more years passed by and yet another letter came. This time, he explained that after he got his bachelor’s degree, he had decided to go a little further. Again, assuring her that she was still the best and favorite teacher he ever had. The letter was signed Theodore F. Stoddard MD.
The story doesn’t end there. There was one final letter that spring. Teddy said that he had met this girl and that he 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 in the place, at his wedding, that was usually reserved for the mother of the groom. Of course, Mrs. Thompson did. She wore that bracelet, the one with the several rhinestones missing. She also made sure she was wearing the perfume that Teddy remembered his mother wearing on their last Christmas together. After the wedding, they hugged each other as Dr. Stoddard whispered in Mrs. Thompson’s ear, “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, “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.”– Author: Elizabeth Silance Ballard 1974. HomeLife Magazine, work of fiction
“To teach is to learn, and teacher and learner are the same”A Course in Miracles, Textbook for teachers
While reading “A Course in Miracles” I came across this very interesting and important quote about teachers and students in the textbook for teachers. It basically says that those roles are never separate, and on top of it, we were never given a choice whether we will be students or teachers in life.
To teach is to demonstrate. From your demonstrations, others learn, and so do you. The question is not whether you will teach, for in that there is no choice.A Course in Miracles, Textbook for teachers
We are both teachers and students from the moment we were born. And the act of giving goes both ways, not just from teacher to student.
With our actions, deeds, and thoughts we are showing to the world who we are, what we believe in and stand for, what we think of ourselves and others, and those are all teaching acts that are equally important for us and others.
Our teaching and learning never stops, not even when we sleep.
Parents = Teachers + Students
We have given life to a human being. The one who will day by day with his thoughts and acts make this world different in some way.
One day, we will be telling our grandchildren a story:
“Once upon a time, there were no people on the streets. Nothing was moving. No kids were allowed to go out to playgrounds. Schools were closed. No parents were allowed to go to work. Only one person was allowed to go out to buy food because outside of our homes was an invisible threat to our lives… Mr. Corona Virus. We used that time for….”
Now, it’s up to us how we will use our time with our kids. One thing is for sure – we can make a difference as a teacher by choosing love, understanding, generosity, positivity, kindness, laughter, encouragement, and joy. And our kids are making a difference for us, too.
We were given a gift of time with them.
While I’m writing this blog today, I am feeling so much gratitude as I’m understanding more and more that we were all given beautiful roles of witnesses and saviors of this time.
The biggest transformation for the whole planet is happening right now in our homes. We are starting to appreciate the moments of quiet and solitude more; moments with our family and friends; we are raising our knowledge and consciousness as now we have more time to expand our interests; we are learning to appreciate how big and important we all are.
How each one of us is part of a whole and how everything we do leaves a mark.
We can wake up from this experience with much more compassion and gratitude. The union and love we experienced and practiced during the lockdown with our family and friends, we can spread past the walls of our homes into the world.
How did you like the story about Teddy Stoddard? How are you spending your time during the lockdown? Have you realized yet how important you are?
Much love to all of you! Thank you for reading my blog,