EDUCATION OFFICIAL STIRS REAL TEARS WITH FICTIONAL TALE; September 6, 2010; The Virginian-Pilot
At a gathering of teachers in an Oregon school district last week, a high-level official told a story that might sound familiar.
It's about Teddy Stoddard, the boy who got off to a bad start in Miss Thompson's fifth-grade class with his dirty clothes and listless academic performance.
At Christmas, he brought his teacher a rhinestone bracelet with missing stones and a half-used bottle of cheap perfume wrapped in a grocery bag. They had belonged to his dead mother.
Horrified that she misjudged the boy, Miss Thompson stayed with Teddy after school every day until he caught up. Over the years, he kept his teacher informed of his progress with three letters. In the final one, Teddy is a doctor and asks Miss Thompson to take his mother's place at his upcoming wedding.
Teachers in Eugene, Ore., sniffled and gave a standing ovation to Thelma Melendez de Santa Ana, the assistant to the U.S. secretary of education, when she finished the story.
But former Virginia Beach resident Elizabeth Ungar wrote "Three Letters from Teddy" nearly 40 years ago about a boy she called Teddy Stallard.
Reached last week at her new home in Rockingham, N.C., she was dismayed to hear it's still being passed off as truth. "I think it's absolutely wrong to do that."…