Mrs. Todd wasn’t just our junior high school home economics teacher. She was more than that. She was a role model and mentor. Perhaps because it was a small school, she had time to give the individual attention that students sometimes need. I believe that she would have tried to reach out to every one of her students even if she had 1,000. Mrs. Todd was the influence that I needed at a vulnerable time in my life. On days when I didn’t want to go home to the chaos, I would hang around Mrs. Todd’s classroom while she finished up her work for the day. She would visit with me and although I never told her specifically why I didn’t want to go home, but I think she knew. Though that was a confusing time in my life, somehow her example gave me hope for a better future.
Many years later, I was sitting and thinking about my childhood and my afterschool chats with Mrs. Todd. I decided to write her a letter telling her how much that time after school meant to me. I don’t recall exactly what I wrote. I just remember that I wanted her to know that she was the reason that I had not given up. Although her teaching was good, it was the extra care that I wanted to thank her for. I didn’t expect a response to that letter, as I was simply thanking her. I was also hoping that those who had the opportunity to sit under her teaching would know that they had a teacher who cared about them as human beings and as God’s children.
A few years back my husband and I traveled back to Iowa to a cemetery in the country for the memorial service of my mother. It was a beautiful day and there were several people gathered to remember her life. After the graveside service, we headed back to the church to visit with those who had come to remember my mom and to support my brothers. Family, friends and a few classmates had come to pay their respects. While we were sitting at the table, a woman entered the room and addressed me by asking if I remembered her. I looked at her for a few seconds and although the face was familiar, I didn’t know her name. She said, “I’m Jolene Todd”. It was Mrs. Todd, who spent hours after school talking with me and listening.
She had driven out to that country church just to tell me that a letter I had written to her 30 years ago was the very thing that she needed at that time in her life. She had reached a place in her career where she didn’t know if she was making a difference. The letter I had written convinced her that she needed to keep teaching. She came to tell me that and to tell me that she was, at that time, retiring. I had no idea at the time that my simple words were part of a greater plan.
Every time I have stopped to think about what those words meant to her, I am awestruck. A piece of paper, a pen and a thought are not worth a thing unless we are willing to put them in motion. And that motion for me may have indirectly helped many more vulnerable kids. They sat under the teaching and care of a woman who didn’t just teach home economics, she modeled compassion and God’s love.
I don’t know why I chose that day to act on the thoughts of gratitude in my mind. But God knew. He knew that one day in a country church on a difficult day I would need her voice of encouragement one more time.
An act of gratitude and encouragement came full circle that day. As a young girl she encouraged me and cared beyond a syllabus. A letter that was written 30 years prior prompted her to take a drive that spring day to a little country church in Iowa. Her compassion circled back around and once again, I was encouraged by a teacher whose life and influence will forever be etched in my mind and heart.
Thank you, Mrs. Todd.
Amy is a much sought after motivational speaker who shares her personal story candidly with humor and with passion. She was a guest columnist for a year in the Kansas City Star’s – Faith Walk column and her writings have been published in several publications. Most recently, her writing was published in a devotional book called, “You Belong: 52 Stories to Strengthen your Purpose, Faith & Relationships” which was a companion to the BELONG Tour live event for women. In addition to her work that was published in their book, her blog post “You’re Beautiful” was featured on their website and recently noted as one of the BELONG Blog: Top 10 Posts for 2016. A truly great honor!
Amy will be doing a lot more writing in this coming year as he prepares to write her first book. We hope that you will check back often to see what is happening here. More importantly, if you are encouraged by her writing and know someone who would also be encouraged, feel free to share the link.
Amy also enjoys hearing from her readers and learning about life from different perspectives. Drop a comment here or, if you have something to share that is more personal, feel free to e-mail her at “email@example.com”. She reads and responds to every single one of her e-mails and looks forward to hearing from you.[/su_box]