From Chicken Soup for the Soul Daily Inspirations for Women

February 2

I had worried myself sick over Sergei’s mother coming to see me. I was a new teacher who gave honest accounts of the students’ work. Sergei was extremely bright, but his grades were awfully low. I felt I was being called to account for his poor work.

I was completely unprepared, therefore, for her kisses on both my cheeks and her thanks for helping Sergei become a different person.

I wondered how I had made such a life-changing difference to that boy. And then I remembered the day when I encouraged another student to project her voice.“Speak up,” I said. “Sergei’s the expert on this, and he can’t hear you in the back of the room.” I realized that the boy who most needed praise was the one who took the last seat that day.

I became kinder that day and much more careful of what I say in front of students. I understood how fragile our children are and how a small kindness can indeed make a life-determining difference. I hope Sergei did well in life because he gave me more than I gave him.

Molly Bernard

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