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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

From the Heart

{This story I especially like because I myself am a teacher and I love the innocence and child-like love of this young boy. It also reminds me of the love I had for several of my teachers because of how much they loved me. }

I taught in the same small town where I grew up, in the same fourth-grade classroom where I was once a student. The first day of school usually brought no surprises. We knew every student, their parents and grandparents.

But this year was different. Danny had moved from Kentucky. He was the oldest of five children. Danny's dad was a truck driver and not home much, and his mom worked odd jobs when she could to help make ends meet. In October, I put Danny's name on the mitten and hat list (a program that provides mittens and hats to underprivileged children). He was so proud when he received his hat and mittens. He wore them to recess and carefully put them in his desk when he came in. After school, I was straightening the desks and a mitten fell out of Danny's desk. I opened his desk and found the other mitten and his new hat. When I questioned him, he explained that stuff got easily misplaced at home and he didn't want to lose his new things.

Danny didn't have a lot of be proud of. He wasn't a very good student, but he tried hard. His best subject was art. I knew he didn't have access to any supplies so every time he asked for paper or markers I didn't hesitate to let him have them. He was really a remarkable artist, and I incorporated several art projects into the reading curriculum that year to boost his self-esteem.

When it came time for the Christmas gift exchange, I knew I would need to help with Danny's gifts as I had done for other students. I showed him several items that I had bought for the exchange. He picked something out and was excited when I gave him wrapping paper.

The room mothers that year, bless their hearts, collected twenty-five cents from each child who could afford it and bought a present for me. I wasn't supposed to know, but not much gets by a teacher in her own classroom, especially at lunch-money time. The child would get back a quarter then giggle and put it in their pocket. Danny was on free lunch, so I was pretty sure he wouldn't be bringing a quarter. But that is the beauty of this kind of present. I would never know who contributed and who did not. The card would say it was from the whole class.

The day of the party was always exciting. We watched a Christmas movie in the afternoon. Danny asked if he could borrow some paper and markers. I didn't hesitate but I was a little surprised. he later came up and asked if he could borrow a piece of tape. I gave it to him gladly. We exchanged gifts, and then the students presented me with the object of all their quarters. I am sorry to say I don't remember what they gave me because after they left for the day, I went back to straighten my desk. I found a folded piece of red construction paper. I opened it up and read it. Before I could finish, I was crying so hard I couldn't see. The note said, "To my favorite teacher. You have always been there for me, and I really appreciate it. I couldn't afford to get you anything so I am giving you everything I have. Merry Christmas. Love Danny."

Inside was taped a dime--everything he had.

Karen Wasmer
excerpted from Chicken Soup for the Teacher's Soul, Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen
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