The story about a young boy Teddy Stoddard giving his teacher gifts for her kindness and the resulting friendship turning his life around is completely made up.
The story that’s being passed around sometimes refers to Teddy as Teddy Stallard, Teddy Stallart, or Teddy Stoddart.
The story outlines the young boy, a fifth grade student, who was a troubled boy who didn’t play with other kids, was unpleasant, and didn’t have good hygiene.
“It got to the point where Mrs. Thompson would actually take delight in marking his papers with a broad red pen, making bold X’s and then putting a big F at the top of his papers,” according to the story.
But the teacher later reviewed notes from past years regarding Teddy, and discovered that he used to be considered a bright student but the death of his mother left him distraught.
Mrs. Thompson received a gift of old perfume and a rhinestone bracelet from Teddy. “Mrs. Thompson, today you smelled just like my Mom used to,” he told her later. Their friendship resulted in Teddy turning his life around, with some versions of the story saying that he went on to become a doctor at Iowa Methodist in Des Moines, and that there was a wing named after him.
But it turns out that the story was written by a writer named Elizabeth Ballard in 1974 for a magazine, where it was clearly labeled as fiction.
Ballard has said it is “absolutely wrong” to pass the story off as non-fiction.