Teddy Stollard


Dale Galloway tells the story of a young boy named Teddy Stollard. He was not the kind of kid who got invited to parties. He slouched in his chair and looked bored most of the time; he only spoke when called upon, and then in monosyllables. He never dressed right; he had smelly clothes; he was a rather unattractive boy.

Whenever his teacher would mark Teddy's papers, she. Got a certain perverse pleasure out of marking all the wrong answers. She would put the "F" on top with a little flair. She might have known better, because his history was on record:

First grade: Teddy is a good boy and shows promise, but has a poor home situation.

Second grade: Teddy is quiet and withdrawn. His mother is terminally ill.

Third grade: Teddy is falling behind. His mother died this year; his father is uninvolved.

Fourth grade: Teddy is hopelessly backward. His father has moved away; Teddy's living with an aunt. He is deeply troubled.

Christmas came, and all the children brought presents to school. They were carefully wrapped, except for Teddy's, which was packaged in brown paper and held together with tape and marked, "For Miss Thompson. From Teddy."

The teacher would open the gifts one by one for the class to admire. When she opened Teddy's, it was a rhinestone bracelet with most of the stones missing, and a bottle of perfume that was mostly gone. The other children started to laugh, but Miss Thompson caught herself. Snapping on the bracelet, she said: "Isn't it lovely, class? And doesn't the perfume smell good?"

At the end of the class, Teddy approached her shyly. "I'm glad you liked my gifts, Miss Thompson," he whispered. "All day long you smelled like my mother. And her bracelet looked nice on you, too."

After he left, Miss Thompson put her head down on the desk and cried. She asked God to forgive her. She prayed that God would help her to see what he sees when she looks at a motherless boy.

When the children came back to school the next day, Miss Thompson was a new teacher. She tutored the children who needed extra help, Teddy most of all. By the end of the year he had caught up with most of his classmates and was ahead of some. After that, she didn't hear from him for quite a while. Then one day she received a note:

Dear Miss Thompson,

I wanted you to be the first to know I am graduating from high school, and I am second in my class.

Love, Teddy Stollard

Four years later came another note:

Dear Miss Thompson,

I wanted you to be the first to know I am graduating first in my class. The university has not been easy, but I liked it.

Love, Teddy Stollard

Four years later, another note:

Dear Miss Thompson,

I wanted to you be the first to know that as of today I am Theodore J. Stollard, M.D. How about that? I want you to come sit where my mother would have sat, because you're the nearest thing to family that I've had.

Love, Teddy Stollard

The ability to assign value is one of the rarest and greatest gifts in the world. So value what God values. There is an ancient story about a poor traveler who is amazed by the welcome he receives at a monastery. He is served a lavish meal, escorted to their finest room, and given a new set of clothes to replace the rags he arrived in. Before leaving, he commented to the abbot on how well he was treated. Yes, the abbot said, we always treat our guests as if they are angels-just to be on the safe side.

Ortberg, John. Everybody's Normal Till You Get to Know Them. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2003, p. 216-217.

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