Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Sunday, July 27, 2008
THREE LETTERS FROM TEDDY
This is one of the most powerful pieces that I've ever read. It reminds all of us of our power as teachers. I've often maintained, that the most important thing that elementary, and to a point, middle school teachers teach is self-esteem and self-concept. This submission only strengthens that conviction. With the year at hand, and all of us counting the summer days left, it's good for all of us to read again, and to pass on to our teaching staffs.
Teddy's letter came today, and now that I've read it, I will place it in my cedar chest with the other things that are important in my life.
"I wanted you to be the first to know."
I smiled as I read the words he had written and my heart swelled with a pride that I had no right to feel.
I have not seen Teddy Stallard since he was a student in my 5th grade class, 15 years ago. It was early in my career, and I had only been teaching two years.
From the first day he stepped into my classroom, I disliked Teddy. Teachers (although everyone knows differently) are not supposed to have favorites in a class, but most especially are not supposed to show dislike for a child, any child.
Nevertheless, every year there are one or two children that one cannot help but be attached to, for teachers are human, and it is human nature to like bright, pretty, intelligent people, whether they are 10 years old or 25. And sometimes, not too often, fortunately, there will be one or two students to whom the teacher just can't seem to relate.
I had thought myself quite capable of handling my personal feelings along that line until Teddy walked into my life. There wasn't a child I particularly liked that year, but Teddy was most assuredly one I disliked.
He was dirty. Not just occasionally, but all the time. His hair hung low over his ears, and he actually had to hold it out of his eyes as he wrote his papers in class. (And this was before it was fashionable to do so!) Too, he had a peculiar odor about him which I could never identify.
His physical faults were many, and his intellect left a lot to be desired, also. By the end of the first week I knew he was hopelessly behind the others. Not only was he behind; he was just plain slow! I began to withdraw from him immediately.
Any teacher will tell you that it's more of a pleasure to teach a bright child. It is definitely more rewarding for one's ego. But any teacher worth her credentials can channel work to the bright child, keeping him challenged and learning, while she puts her major effort on the slower ones. Any teacher can do this. Most teachers do it, but I didn't, not that year.
In fact, I concentrated on my best students and let the others follow along as best they could. Ashamed as I am to admit it, I took perverse pleasure in using my red pen; and each time I came to Teddy's papers, the cross marks (and they were many) were always a little larger and a little redder than necessary.
"Poor work!" I would write with a flourish.
While I did not actually ridicule the boy, my attitude was obviously quite apparent to the class, for he quickly became the class "goat", the outcast -- the unlovable and the unloved.
He knew I didn't like him, but he didn't know why. Nor did I know -- then or now -- why I felt such an intense dislike for him. All I know is that he was a little boy no one cared about, and I made no effort in his behalf.
The days rolled by. We made it through the Fall Festival and the Thanksgiving holidays, and I continued marking happily with my red pen.
As the Christmas holidays approached, I knew that Teddy would never catch up in time to be promoted to the sixth grade level. He would be a repeater.
To justify myself, I went to his cumulative folder from time to time. He had very low grades for the first four years, but not grade failure. How he had made it, I didn't know. I closed my mind to personal remarks.
First grade: Teddy shows promise by work and attitude, but has poor home situation. Second grade: Teddy could do better. Mother terminally ill. He receives little help at home. Third grade: Teddy is a pleasant boy. Helpful, but too serious. Slow learner. Mother passed away at end of year. Fourth grade: Very slow, but well-behaved. Father shows no interest.
Well, they passed him four times, but he will certainly repeat fifth grade! "Do him good!" I said to myself.
And then the last day before the holiday arrived. Our little tree on the reading table sported paper and popcorn chains. Many gifts were heaped underneath, waiting for the big moment.
Teachers always get several gifts at Christmas, but mine that year seemed bigger and more elaborate than ever. There was not a student who had not brought me one. Each unwrapping brought squeals of delight, and the proud giver would receive effusive thank-you's.
His gift wasn't the last one I picked up; in fact it was in the middle of the pile. Its wrapping was a brown paper bag, and he had colored Christmas trees and red bells all over it. It was stuck together with masking tape.
"For Miss Thompson -- From Teddy" it read.
The group was completely silent, and for the first time, I felt conspicuous, embarrassed because they all stood watching me unwrap that gift.
As I removed the last bit of masking tape, two items fell to my desk; a gaudy rhinestone bracelet with several stones missing and a small bottle of dime store cologne -- half empty.
I could hear the snickers and whispers, and I wasn't sure I could look at Teddy.
"Isn't this lovely?" I asked, placing the bracelet on my wrist. "Teddy, would you help me fasten it?"
He smiled shyly as he fixed the clasp, and I held up my wrist for all of them to admire.
There were a few hesitant oohs and aahs, but as I dabbed the cologne behind my ears, all the little girls lined up for a dab behind their ears.
I continued to open the gifts until I reached the bottom of the pile. We ate our refreshments and the bell rang.
The children filed out with shouts of "See you next year!" and "Merry Christmas!" but Teddy waited at his desk.
When they had all left, he walked toward me, clutching his gift and books to his chest.
"You smell just like Mom," he said softly. "Her bracelet looks real pretty on you, too. I'm glad you liked it."
He left quickly. I locked the door, sat down at my desk, and wept, resolving to make up to Teddy what I had deliberately deprived him of -- a teacher who cared.
I stayed every afternoon with Teddy from the end of the Christmas holidays until the last day of school. Sometimes we worked together. Sometimes he worked alone while I drew up lesson plans or graded papers. Slowly but surely he caught up with the rest of the class. Gradually, there was a definite upward curve in his grades.
He did not have to repeat the fifth grade. In fact, his final averages were among the highest in the class, and although I knew he would be moving out of the state when school was out, I was not worried for him. Teddy had reached a level that would stand him in good stead the following year, no matter where he went. He enjoyed a measure of success, and as we were taught in our teacher training courses, "Success builds success."
I did not hear from Teddy until seven years later, when his first letter appeared in my mailbox:
Dear Miss Thompson,
I just wanted you to be the first to know. I will be graduating second in my class next month.
Very truly yours,
I sent him a card of congratulations and a small package, a pen and pencil gift set. I wondered what he would do after graduation.
Four years later, Teddy's second letter came:
Dear Miss Thompson,
I wanted you to be the first to know. I was just informed that I'll be graduating first in my class. The university has not been easy, but I liked it.
Very truly yours,
I send him a good pair of sterling silver monogrammed cuff links and a card, so proud of him I could burst!
And now today -- Teddy's third letter:
Dear Miss Thompson,
I wanted you to be the first to know. As of today, I am Theodore J. Stallard, M.D. How about that?
I'm going to be married in July, the 27th, to be exact. I wanted to ask if you could come and sit where Mom would sit if she were here. I'll have no family there as Dad died last year.
Very truly yours,
I'm not sure what kind of gift one sends to a doctor on completion of medical school and state boards. Maybe I'll just wait and take a wedding gift, but my note can't wait:
Congratulations! You made it, and you did it yourself! In spite of those like me and not because of us, this day has come to you.
God bless you. I'll be at that wedding with bells on!
Elizabeth Silance Ballard
Remember your words are POWERFUL!!!
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Yesterday,Lee's girlfriend Kat came over and babysat Lilly while I worked for 8 hours at school. Steve was also home, but he and Lee were busy in the yard. After a long day, I craved vegetables. I invited the in-laws over and with Alice, Lilly, Lee, Kat and myself we fixed a great meal. I tell you this story because Lee's girlfriend knew a little about cooking but I had to laugh when it came time for the potatoes to be mashed. When I first told Lee to mash the potatoes he got out the old hand masher... then I told him to get the mixer out. Well I just assumed that he knew how..well he started to mashed them before they were drained. Corrected that. Then he decided to mash them on the countertop. Corrected and so glad I did..LOL. Then I told them to get the butter, salt, milk and pepper.Kat said " I never made them but its the sameingredients as whats in instant ones." It struck me as funny how in life we assume if we know how then everyone should know how. Maybe they need a cooking class. HAHAHA
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Last night while on the phone with my parents, I heard Lilly in the cabinet. I really didn't think to much of it. All 2 year olds like to prowl, right?? The next thing I knew she found some crackers and fig newtons in the drawer. Well she decided to cook. She put something in every cooking pot I own. I thought it was really cute. She wasn't hurting anything, right?? Out came the spoon and fig newtons were being mashed. I dreaded the clean up, but I should have been paying more attention, right???
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Today is a sad day for me. Reality has now began to hit. My baby is really going to the High School. Tonight we attend registration at WCHS. I think that I thought if I didn't think about it, it wouldn't happen. Life seems to get shorter all the time. I have always been proud of Lee. He is a great son and brother.ALWAYS, ALWAYS tell your children you love them!!
Monday, July 21, 2008
This is a more recent picture of the pond. Steve has completed the waterfalls and is working on the final touches. He has also started putting landscape gravel around it. The last step will be the plantings and the stepping stones. We already have 2 frogs that have decided to call this pond home. It's nice to sit on the back deck and feel like your in the woods. VERY relaxing.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Remember when I posted a tease about something I was working on ? Well here it is. I am working on orders and items for the Craft Fair. Yes, I know that the Craft Fair isn't until November!! I wanted to post some of the items to get feed back from you. Here is one of the items that I am working on. These make great Baby Shower gifts. They range in sizes 0-18 months. This is the first one I made. These will be only $15.00. I have 18 I will make and then that's it. I just love the sparkly tulle. If you want to order one now, just shoot me an email. I also have ones that say...Honeybunny...Me....Princess..Angel...I will post another pic so that you can see the choices.
Saturday, July 19, 2008
My DD has been sick since Thursday afternoon. She laid around lifeless and ran a very high fever. Today she has been more like herself . When I was busy getting clothes ready for consignment, I looked over and there she was in the empty crate with her doll Dottie. She was reading her a book about the monster under her bed. I love moments like this and realize that things could change in a blink of an eye. So for all those with children young and old always tell them you love them, often and always.
Friday, July 18, 2008
I got a good report on Thursday.The cyst he removed will be filled in naturally as my body heals. He said this could take 6-9 months. If after that it doesn't fill in on its own he said he would fill it in ..like filling a pot hole..haha. Dr says that I can drive and I don't have to wear the brace unless I think I need it. I also started PT..which wasn't fun. I will continue PT here in town rather than driving to Nashville twice a week. Thank you for all your prayers, calls, rides, phone call, emails, and the great food.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Monday, July 14, 2008
Yes, you didn't read the title wrong. I attended a great inservice at CO. (Yes, I did have to put my leg up as soon as I got back to the house.)The topic was Lincoln on Leadership with Bonnie Collier. Thank you Linda for driving me there and back. Without you I would be lost!! Those who know me well, know I aspire to become a principal one day. All the opportunities I take in life I hope will benefit me to be a great leader one day. I love to teach in the classroom, but long to share the opportunity to touch lives of students, parents, teachers,and the community.
Thursday, I will travel to Cool Springs to get my stitches out and to do my first round of rehab. I won't lie...this has been more painful than my other surgeries. Maybe I'm just getting older!LOL
I'm working on something special..details later.