Debbie takes a sip of coffee from her giant mug that reads “greatest teacher ever.” She watches her student Teddy place his gift on her table; his long brown hair loosely hanging over his ears and forehead.
But from the moment she sees his gift she’s lost for words. She had been a teacher for 10 years now, and she had never seen anything like this. The other children start to laugh, and Teddy’s face becomes flustered. Debbie quickly takes a deep breath and opens her gift, and then a terrible feeling hits the pit of her stomach.
Debbie Thompson knew that some teachers are just there for the pay-check, hanging out until retirement is feasible, but no, not her.
She had been teaching for 10 years and she cherished every single one of her students. Apart from one boy.
This boy was called Teddy and he was quite an unpleasant little boy. He had a lot of attitude for such a small boy, and teaching him was far from a walk in the park. He often refused to do work, and occasionally he would storm out of the class in a fit of rage.
But when Debbie started her first day back at school, she had no idea how Teddy was about to turn her life upside down.
Debbie had watched Teddy the year before and noticed that he didn’t play well with the other children. His clothes were always messy and he constantly needed a bath. At times, Teddy could be unpleasant, back-chatting, and being feisty to his fellow classmates and teachers.
It got to the point where Debbie would take delight in marking his papers with broad red X’s and finally putting a Big “F” on the top of his papers. But nothing could have prepared her for what would happen next.
At the school where Debbie taught, she was required to review each child’s past records. It was easy at first, and there was nothing strange about any of the child’s records.
But she hadn’t come across Teddy’s yet. And when she did she was left feeling embarrassed and ashamed.
Debbie put Teddy’s records off till last. After all, he wasn’t exactly an amazing student.
She sat herself down at her desk and took a sip of her coffee as she opened Teddy’s record. When she finally read inside, a chill crept up her spine.
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.”
Debbie stopped reading and looked up. She could feel her heartbeat in her throat. She had no idea about Teddy’s mother’s illness. But what she read next left her lost for words.
Debbie carries on reading. Teddy’s 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.”
Debbie couldn’t believe it. Poor teddy. She never knew about his mother’s illness let alone her passing! A terrible feeling hit the pit of her stomach.
By now, Debbie realized the problem and she was ashamed of herself. How could she not have noticed? How could she have been so stupid?
She felt angry, sad, and upset. She felt like a failure of a teacher. But she had no idea what was coming next.
A few months passed and the festive season was soon upon Debbie and her class. Christmas decorations were scattered in the classroom and today was the day where everybody in the class exchanged gifts.
Debbie knew it was going to be a day filled with joy, affection and excitement. But Debbie had no idea how wrong she really was.
Debbie sat at her desk and watched her students revel in holiday excitement.
As each of her students brought their Christmas presents wrapped in beautiful ribbons and bright paper, Debbie thanked them. But then as soon as she saw Teddy’s gift she felt sick to her stomach.
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 what was inside. It was something she never expected.
Inside was a rhinestone bracelet with some of the stones missing and a bottle that was one-quarter full of perfume. Debbie picked up the perfume and her heart dropped. The entire classroom went silent and Teddy’s face became flushed with embarrassment.
The sound of silence was soon shattered by the sound of the children laughing at Teddy. But things were about to get more emotional.
Debbie 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. She smiled at Teddy reassuring him.
But later that day Teddy stayed after school and asked to speak to Debbie. She could not have expected what he would say.
As Debbie dismissed her class at the end of the day, Teddy appeared at the door. His brown eyes stared at Debbie as she asked, “what’s wrong Teddy?”
Teddy made his way over to Debbie and what he said broke Debbie’s heart into a million little pieces.
“Mrs. Thompson,” Teddy replied, before letting out a sigh, “today you smell just like my mom used to.”
Debbie’s heart broke into a million pieces and she could feel the tears start to well in her eyes. She hugged Teddy and he left the room. But Debbie just sat there and cried. She knew she had to help him. She had to do something.
The following day, Debbie began to pay close attention to Teddy as she worked with him. As time went on, 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! Debbie was super proud of Teddy. But then a year later, something happened. Something that would change Debbie’s life forever.
It was a warm summer day when Debbie finally finished work. She headed home ready to spend the weekend relaxing and catching up on her TV shows.
But as she pulled into her drive she saw something that left her feeling uneasy. She got out of her car and walked to the front door. Right there and then, there was something on her front doormat. What was it?
Debbie got closer tho the doormat and leaned down to get a closer look. It was a note that stuck on the doormat.
Suddenly, a terrible feeling hit the pit of her stomach. She looked around, but her neighbor was silent. She lets out a sigh before picking the note up and reading it. And what it read left Debbie lost for words.
The note was from Teddy telling her that she was the best teacher he had ever had in his whole life. Debbie smiled to herself, and that terrible feeling in her stomach blossomed into the feeling of butterflies.
She was happy that finally, Teddy was happy. After all, that’s all that teachers want for their students right?