Stories of Kindness from Around the World

A Teacher's Gift

--by Modestobob, posted Sep 18, 2009

One day a teacher asked her students to list the names of the other students in the room on two sheets of paper, leaving a space between each name.

Then she told them to think of the nicest thing they could say about each of their classmates and write it down.

It took the remainder of the class period to finish their assignment, and as the students left the room, each one handed in the papers.

That Saturday, the teacher wrote down the name of each student on a separate sheet of paper, and listed what everyone else had said about that individual.

On Monday she gave each student his or her list. Before long, the entire class was smiling. "Really?" she heard whispered. "I never knew that I meant anything to anyone!" and, "I didn't know others liked me so much." were most of the comments.

No one ever mentioned those papers in class again. She never knew if they discussed them after class or with their parents, but it didn't matter. The exercise had accomplished its purpose. The students were happy with themselves and one another. That group of students moved on.

Several years later, one of the students was killed in Vietnam and his teacher attended the funeral of that special student. She had never seen a serviceman in a military coffin before. He looked so handsome, so mature.

The church was packed with his friends. One by one those who loved him took a last walk by the coffin. The teacher was the last one to bless the coffin.

As she stood there, one of the soldiers who acted as pallbearer came up to her. "Were you Mark's math teacher?" he asked. She nodded: "yes." Then he said: "Mark talked about you a lot."

After the funeral, most of Mark's former classmates went together to a luncheon. Mark's mother and father were there, obviously waiting to speak with his teacher.

"We want to show you something," his father said, taking a wallet out of his pocket. "They found this on Mark when he was killed. We thought you might recognize it."

Opening the billfold, he carefully removed two worn pieces of notebook paper that had obviously been taped, folded and refolded many times. The teacher knew without looking that the papers were the ones on which she had listed all the good things each of Mark's classmates had said about him.

"Thank you so much for doing that," Mark's mother said. "As you can see, Mark treasured it."

All of Mark's former classmates started to gather around. Charlie smiled rather sheepishly and said, "I still have my list. It's in the top drawer of my desk at home."

Chuck's wife said, "Chuck asked me to put his in our wedding album."

"I have mine too," Marilyn said. "It's in my diary."

Then Vicki, another classmate, reached into her pocketbook, took out her wallet and showed her worn and frazzled list to the group "I carry this with me at all times," Vicki said and without batting an eyelash, she continued: "I think we all saved our lists."

That's when the teacher finally sat down and cried. She cried for Mark and for all his friends who would never see him again.

- Author Unknown

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Readers Comments

SmileSharer wrote: I turned this story into a skit at school and some younger students preformed it for about 100 people. My younger sister came home a few days later and said that they had done this activity in their 3rd grade class. I was so impressed and touched the way that kindness can work it's way around and touch so many people. Smiles forever, smilesharer
Jeff wrote: According to saint mary's school in morris, minnesota, this is a true story written by sister helen mrosla, a franciscan nun. According to an associated press article published in the topeka capitol-journal in 1998, sister mrosla decided to write about mark for proteus magazine, which had asked for stories about education. That article was later printed in reader's digest but has probably reached its biggest audience via the internet. Some versions of the circulated email also include promises of good luck if the story is forwarded to other people, something that sister mrosla is not happy about. She said it cheapens it somehow.
Arlan wrote: This program was so inspiring we have highlighted it on the pass it forward website.
jacquelyn wrote: This is touching
Chris wrote: Thank you for this amazing story! It makes me strive to become a great teacher like this lady. You have brightened my day. Thank you
Yammuna wrote: Really a wonderful story. Fantafabulous!
NavNit wrote: I love my teacher a lot. I love this post too. Great n touching one.
Leemegee36 wrote: This story made me cry, i wish i had had a teacher who did this.
Jaime wrote: Wow.

Thats really crazy. But it makes you think, doesn't it?
ShayK wrote: I am sharing this with all the other teachers and class leaders i work with. Wow! Truly amazing.

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