Big Picture

Stories from CEF

The Hero

-Karen Milligan

Ricardo slapped his tennis shoes lightly on the wet sidewalk as he walked home from school.

“Hey, Josh, we should celebrate! We made it through another day in Sarge’s class!”

Josh pounced into the middle of a large puddle, sending muddy spray all over. “Hooray!” he shouted. “Only 115 more days to go!”

Ricardo flipped muddy drips off his curly black hair and laughed. “Oh, thanks for reminding me!” he said jokingly.

Ricardo was new to Emerson Elementary School but right away he’d realized that his fifth-grade teacher, Mrs. Grey, lived up to her nickname— Sarge. She had been bossing kids around from day one. “Stop biting your nails, Emily. Jorge, put that neon green pencil in your book bag and don’t bring it back to school. Class, stop groaning and moaning about your homework or you’ll get more.” Even that very morning she’d scolded, “Ricardo Mendez, you haven’t cleaned out your desk in weeks! What a mess! Clean it up—pronto— or you’ll write a thousand times, ‘I will keep my desk clean!” The kids wondered if Mrs. Grey had gone to Drill Sergeant College to learn how to be so mean for the last thirty years.

“Somebody needs to put Mrs. Grey in her place,” Josh muttered. “I wonder how she’d feel if people started bossing her around all the time?”

Ricardo stopped walking. “I don’t think that would help much,” he said. “That verse we learned in Sunday school* says we’re supposed to be kind to people even when they treat us badly.”

“Yeah, I know what it says,” said Josh. “If your enemy is hungry, feed him and if he’s thirsty, give him a drink. Something like that. But Mrs. Grey isn’t hungry or thirsty. The only thing we could feed her that might help is a kindness pill.”

Ricardo thought about that. He pulled a chocolate bar out of his lunch box and mumbled between bites, “Hey, Josh, I gotta go. See ya Monday at school.”

Josh waved good-bye and as Ricardo walked the rest of the way home, he thought, Lord Jesus, help me to not get in so much trouble with Mrs. Grey. I don’t like her very much right now, but I think You might want me to like her. At home he went straight to the kitchen for a sandwich and asked, “Mom, could I have some of the stuff that Aunt Marie gave you from her yard sale?” Mom nodded yes and continued to scrub the frying pan in the sink.

Monday morning, Mrs. Grey said, “Why is it so quiet in here today? You never behave this well! All right, who’s in trouble this time?”

The whole class grinned and Josh pointed to her desk at the side of the room. Sunny yellow paper tied with a blue ribbon surrounded a small gift sitting in the center of her desk.

“What’s this, some kind of joke?” She shook the box.

“Open it. I think it’s a present,” Melissa spoke softly. Mrs. Grey opened the package to find a small white vase with pink silk roses on it.

“Hum-m-m, will you look at that!” was all she said. She didn’t even mention the small chip in the bottom of the vase. Instead, she set the gift down gently on the corner of her desk.

For the rest of the week, Ricardo and the class rushed in to see what might be on Mrs. Grey’s desk. Every day, a new present had been waiting.

“Man, someone sure is a dope, giving Mrs. Grumpy all those presents!” said Jorge.

“No they’re not. Haven’t you noticed how she’s been a little nicer every day?” asked Melissa.

“Yeah, she didn’t yell at any of us yesterday!” exclaimed Josh. “Wonder who’s bringing the gifts?”

“Well, she or he is the class hero for sure!” Brendan cheered. The whole class agreed.

Mrs. Grey walked in and went straight to her desk. “My, what a lovely week this has been. I’ve never seen such good boys and girls in all my years of teaching. By the way, who has been putting all the gifts on my desk?”

Students looked around at each other and shrugged their shoulders, half-expecting Mrs. Grey to order the person to stop bringing presents.

“Well, whoever it is, thank you,” she said instead. The whole class almost gasped in shock. Then Sarge actually smiled and turned to write on the chalkboard.

Inside his heart, Ricardo repeated the words of the verse he’d learned in Sunday school. If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink (Proverbs 25:21). He tried to hide a smile as he opened his reading book to do the assignment written on the board.

Talk about…

  1. Who do you think put the gifts on Mrs. Grey’s desk?
  2. Have you ever had a teacher who is a bit grumpy or unkind?
  3. What does the Bible say you are to do for people who treat you badly?
  4. How did the presents help to change Mrs. Grey? (See p. 44 for related game.)

Stay Connected with CEF

Subscribe to our email lists to receive updates, news, and stories based on your needs and interests.