Our third grade class was listening to our teacher, Miss Pratt. She told us she was disappointed that we were not making the progress she had expected with multiplication tables one through nine. She explained that we really understood the meaning of multiplication but that we had not spent enough time memorizing the tables. The rote method was necessary in this case.

I regretted that I had not put forth the amount of effort required. I had spent too much time playing with my friends instead of drilling myself. I had let down my teacher, who to me was the kindest, sweetest, and prettiest one I had ever known. This was my first experience with one who smiled much more than she scowled, laughed often, and never threatened any of us, yet she was able to “read” the children, control the class, and teach effectively. Miss Pratt put a lot of herself into her work. Every day near the close of school, she would read to us, or even better, tell us stories about when she was a little girl. Most importantly, she made us feel that she cared about us and that we were important.

Because of a serious car accident when I was three and a half years old, I had a scar below my nostril that was the result of a torn upper lip. Everything else had healed up without any after effects physically, but my emotions remained scarred. (Years later plastic surgery was performed that improved that condition.) Meanwhile, having been called Chief Running Nose and Scarface by many insensitive children, my confidence and self-esteem had suffered. Although my parents and relatives referred to me as pretty, I did not see myself that way. Focusing on my scar, I could not appreciate any redeeming features. (As I grew older, I thanked God that I was alive with relatively little damage, and still do.) At the end of one school day, I remained in my classroom, waiting for the arrival of my mother, who was coming to take me to an appointment close to the school. Miss Pratt sat at her desk with a fellow teacher and chatted.

I glanced at the clock and realized it was time for me to get ready to leave. I put on my matching brown wool coat and hat trimmed with beaver that even I realized was becoming. The teachers looked at my outfit and seemed to admire it. I was able to read their lips a little and my ears perked up to hear, “Who is she? She really is cute.” My teacher’s answer was, “I agree; Bernice is adorable.”

Adorable! The word grabbed me. It jolted me. It was just about my favorite word. A delicious warmth enveloped me with a new sense of awareness. Teachers would not lie. Maybe it was true. I looked pretty. This was a revelation to me.

At that moment I made the decision to be the first child in my class to learn the assigned tables. Whatever it took, no matter how much time, I would succeed. No one was going to stop me. This time I believed in myself.

About one week later, Miss Pratt announced to the class that Bernice was the first one to learn the tables and she told us she was proud of me. She handed me my first diary, gold key and all. I thanked her enthusiastically. The class smiled and clapped. For the first time, I felt truly good about myself. I knew I had been motivated by Miss Pratt’s remark. This might not have occurred if I had not overheard those kind words. What a difference one special teacher can make! Miss Pratt, you’ll never know how much I’ve thought of you through the years. I tried my best to be a caring teacher like you were. I believe I was successful. My classes always loved the stories I told them about myself when I was young.

Thank you for being the kind of teacher you were. I hope you enjoyed the wonderful life you deserved.

Author's Bio: 

FEEL GOOD STORIES by Bernice Becker - Lift Your Spirits and the Spirits of Those You Love! In today's frantic age of running and doing, we often forget how a glance, a smile, a remark can still shake up our worlds and make all the difference in how we feel and perceive ourselves and our potential! Join Mrs. Becker, 84-years young, as she shares with us a profound difference that one teacher made when she was a girl. http://www.storiestofeelgood.com or http://www.enchantedself.com