Christmas and the Magic Pencil

Dear Reader:

A good friend of mine, Brooks Moore, a (mostly) retired educator after 45 years in the “business,” sent me a copy of his book titled: Chalk Talk: 30 Stories that will touch your funny bone and heart.

Vickie works at the golf club a street down from us and she said Brooks gave her a copy of his book signed and inscribed…he asked Vickie to give it to me. On the way to my appointment last Friday I read some of the true stories aloud to Anne and this one touched both our hearts. Hope you enjoy.

As a first-year teacher Brooks was excited about his first Christmas classroom party with his students. He had bought refreshments out of his own pocket but it would be worth it to give his students a celebration on the last day of classes before the Christmas holidays began.

Just before the party started a young male student by the name of Theoleonis asked if Mr. Moore would step out in the hall with him. He needed to tell him something. Theo was an African-American student who had five siblings and a difficult home situation, but still he worked diligently and never gave up.

Once outside in the hall Theo told Mr. Moore that he was too embarrassed to give his gift inside…he then reached into the back pocket of his tattered jeans and pulled out his gift… wrapped in newspaper and a red ribbon.

Mr. Moore, this is for you, Theo said and I hope you can use it.” With trembling hands he pressed the gift into Brooks’ palms. With a lump in his throat Brooks opened his special gift and pulled out two #2 pencils. He then started to read Theo’s hand-written note. Tears started welling up in Brooks’ eyes because the note read: “To my favorite teacher of all time. Merry Christmas, Theo.”

Brooks opened the classroom door and let Theo back in…telling him he would be right back…he needed to get something else for the party. Instead he headed straight for the faculty restroom to wipe his eyes and try to get control of his emotions before returning.

As his eyes gazed over at the presents covering his desk… (once back in the classroom)…he already knew that Theo’s gift was the best one of all. It was then that Brooks said Divine Intervention must have struck him full force because suddenly he found himself telling the class that he had just received two magical  pencils from Theo and they would always have a special place on his desk.

They were never to be used or moved without permission. When the students returned from Christmas break he would explain how the magic worked. Brooks kept his word…on the first day back he reminded the students about the two magical pencils and explained the procedure.

Before any big test Theo was to go around the room holding the pencils while each student touched them for good luck. Brooks reminded the students that the magic in the pencils didn’t work, however, unless the student had studied and prepared him/herself for the test…this was the secret ingredient that released the magical power!

Theo went on to become a concrete finisher and had his own successful business. Years later, Brooks ran into him and told Theo that he was the reason why he had continued on in education.

He went on to explain how those two yellow #2 pencils taught him what his calling was…and it was Theo who lead him to it. Both men hugged and then went their own ways…both better for the experiences they had shared together.

So until tomorrow…Don’t ever get down thinking you aren’t contributing to the world in any significant way…all it takes is one thought expressed to another to change someone’s life. At Christmas all it took was one little baby, born in a manger, to change the world forever.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

*I loved the idea of the pencils being magical…just like Christmas should be filled with magic too…because hope always walks alongside it. And most importantly…that hope gave Theo a way to achieve and find a friend (in a teacher) forever.

I got batteries put back in the pineapples and at night when I turn off all the lights except the Christmas tree and the pineapples…my happy place does turn magical.

 

 

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About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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8 Responses to Christmas and the Magic Pencil

  1. bcparkison says:

    Love the story and there is something comforting about soft lights… add a fireplace and there is magic.

    Like

  2. Pam says:

    I was so thrilled to read a story about Brooks Moore. I taught at Rollings Elementary under Mr. Moore. He is an amazing man. I have always said that he was by far my FAVORITE principal to work with. He went out of his way to make each of us on the faculty feel appreciated for all the hard work we did in making learning fun. He even had a regular rotation during the entire school year of coming into your classroom for 30 minutes to teach any lesson & give you a break. I will always hold him dear to my heart.

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    • Becky Dingle says:

      I know he will love to read this wonderful comment…will try to get up with him and let him know about this blog and the sweet comments…I am sure it will his day.

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  3. ambikasur says:

    Hi Becky, the magical pencil story reminds me of a quote by Mother Teresa, ” I’m a little pencil in the hand of a writing God, who is sending love letters to the world…”

    I think Theo’s humble gesture changed Mr. Brooks perspective and inspired him…
    Hope you all are doing well.. loads of love n prayers…

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    • Becky Dingle says:

      I am so happy to hear from you Ambika…have missed you. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays… I love that quote – perfect! Will have to share it with Brooks!

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  4. Brooks P.Moore says:

    BECKY THANKS FOR SHARING MY STORY WITH YOUR READERS. I APPRECIATED THE POSITIVE COMMENTS AND THANKS FOR YOUR INSPIRING WORDS OF HOPE, LOVE, AND WISDOM YOU SHARE WITH OTHERS. YOU ARE AN INSPIRATION FOR SO MANY OF US WHO ARE FIGHTING THE CANCER BATTLE. MAY GOD CONTINUE TO BLESS AND KEEP YOU IN HIS CARE.PAM WAS ONE OF THE MANY EXCELLENT TEACHERS I HAD THE PLEASURE OF WORKING WITH AT ROLLINGS. BROOKS MOORE

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    • Becky Dingle says:

      I was so happy to share your story of the number 2 pencils…it touched me and so many other readers, Brooks, just like you touched so many other students and teachers throughout your life as both a teacher and administrator. Thank you for sharing your book with me. I am so proud of you! Love, Becky

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