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 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. At the school, where Mrs. Thompson taught, she was required to review each child's past records and 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. 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 Teddy's fourth grade teacher wrote, ‘Teddy is withdrawn and doesn’t show much interest in school.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.'
Christmas was fast approaching. Her students brought her Christmas presents, wrapped in beautiful ribbons and bright papers, while Teddy’s present was clumsily packed in a grocery bag. When she opened the packet, she found a rhinestone bracelet with some of the stones missing. But she stifled the children’s laughter when she exclaimed how pretty the bracelet was, putting it on.
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. A year later, she found a note under her door, from Teddy, telling her that she was 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 life. Four years after that, she got another letter, saying that he would soon graduate from college with the highest of honours. Then four more years passed and yet another letter came saying that he got his bachelor’s degree. The letter explained that she was still the best and favorite teacher he ever had. This time his name was a little longer. The letter was signed by Dr. Theodore F. StoddardMD.