本文作者Helen Mrosla (海伦·姆罗斯拉)是圣方济各会的一名修女，1991年她将本文投给一本名为Proteus, a Journal of Idea的杂志并得以发表，同年美国Reader's Digest杂志转载了这篇文章，随后Chicken Soup for the Soul (1993)和Chicken Soup for the Heart (1996)也分别转载了此文。今天，我们一起重温一下这个感人的故事，让我们谨记：一位富有爱心的教育者可以改变人的一生；同时，如果我们乐于发现并赞美他人的长处，这个世界就会变得更加美好！
He was in the first third grade class I taught at Saint Mary's School in Morris, Minn. All 34 of my students were dear to me, but Mark Eklund was one in a million1). Very neat in appearance, he had that happy-to-be-alive2) attitude that made even his occasional mischievousness3) delightful.
Mark often talked incessantly4). I had to remind him again and again that talking without permission was not acceptable. What impressed me so much, though, was his sincere response every time I had to correct him for misbehaving. "Thank you for correcting me, Sister!" I didn't know what to make of5) it at first, but before long I became accustomed to hearing it many times a day.
One morning my patience was growing thin6) when Mark talked once too often7), and then I made a novice8)-teacher's mistake. I looked at him and said, "If you say one more word, I am going to tape your mouth shut!"
It wasn't ten seconds later when Chuck, another student, blurted out9), "Mark is talking again." I hadn't asked any of the students to help me watch Mark, but since I had stated the punishment in front of the class, I had to act on10) it.
I remember the scene as if it had occurred this morning. I walked to my desk, very deliberately opened my drawer and took out a roll of masking tape11). Without saying a word, I proceeded to Mark's desk, tore off12) two pieces of tape and made a big X with them over his mouth. I then returned to the front of the room. As I glanced at Mark to see how he was doing, he winked at me. When I walked back to Mark's desk and removed the tape, his first words were, "Thank you for correcting me, Sister."
One Friday, I asked the students to list the names of the other students in the room on two sheets of paper, leaving a space between each name. Then I told them to think of the nicest thing they could say about each of their classmates and write it down. It took the remainder13) of the class period to finish the assignment, and as the students left the room, each one handed me the paper.
That Saturday, I wrote down the name of each student on a separate sheet of paper, and I listed what everyone else had said about that individual. On Monday I gave each student his or her list. Before long, the entire class was smiling. "Really?" I heard the whispers. "I never knew that meant anything to anyone!" "I didn't know others liked me so much!" Then Mark said, "Thank you for teaching me, Sister."
No one ever mentioned those pieces of paper in class again. I never knew if they discussed them after class or with their parents.
Soon I was asked to teach junior-high math. The years flew by14), and before I knew it Mark was in my classroom again. He was more handsome and more polite than ever. Maybe since he had to listen carefully to my instruction in the "new math15)", he did not talk as much in the ninth grade as he had in the third.
That group of students moved on.
Several years later, after I returned from vacation, my parents met me at the airport. Mother gave Dad a side-ways16) glance and simply said, "Dad?" My father cleared his throat as he usually did before saying something important. "The Eklunds called last night," he began. "Really?" I said. "I haven't heard from them in years. I wonder how Mark is." Dad responded quietly. "Mark was killed in Vietnam17)," he said. "The funeral is tomorrow, and his parents would like it if you could attend."
I had never seen a serviceman18) in a military coffin before. Mark looked so handsome, so mature.
After the funeral, Mark's mother and father found me. "We want to show you something," his father said. "They found this on Mark when he was killed. We thought you might recognize it." Opening a billfold19), he carefully removed two worn and frazzled20) pieces of notebook paper that had obviously been taped, folded and refolded many times. I knew without looking that the pieces of paper were the ones on which I had listed all the good things that Mark's classmates had said about him. "Thank you so much for doing that." Mark's mother said. "As you can see, Mark behaved better and better at school. It's all because of you and your list."
Mark's classmates started to gather around us. Charlie smiled rather sheepishly21) and said, "I still have my list. It's in the top drawer of my desk at home." Chuck's wife said, "Chuck asked me to put this in our wedding album." "I have mine too," Marilyn said. "It's in my diary." Then Vicki, another classmate, reached into her pocketbook22), took out her wallet and showed her worn list to the group. "I carry this with me at all times," Vicki said without batting an eyelash23). "I think we all saved our lists."
That's when I finally sat down and cried.
Sometimes the smallest things could mean the most to others. The density of people in society is so thick that we forget life will end one day and we don't know when that one day will be. Compliment the people you love and care about, before it is too late.
1. one in a million: 百里挑一；极稀有的人或事
2. happy-to-be-alive [ˈhæpitʊbiəˈlaɪv] adj. 乐天的
3. mischievousness [ˈmɪstʃɪvəsnəs] n. 恶作剧
4. incessantly [ɪnˈses(ə)ntli] adv. 不停地，连续地，持续不断地
5. make of: 处理，对待
6. thin [θɪn] adj. 失去耐心的
7. once too often: 又一次；次数太多
8. novice [ˈnɒvɪs] n. 新手，生手
9. blurt out: 脱口而出
10. act on: 遵照……行动；奉行
11. masking tape: (绘画或喷漆时用以遮盖无需着色或油漆部分的)遮蔽胶条
12. tear off: 撕下；扯掉
13. remainder [rɪˈmeɪndə(r)] n. 剩余部分，其余
14. the years fly by: 时光飞逝
15. new math: 美国的一种数学教育法，注重让学生了解数学观念和结构，而不重视实际运算。
16. side-ways [ˈsaɪdweɪz] adj. (斜)向一边(或一侧)的；向旁边的
17. Vietnam [vietˈnæm] n. 越南。越南战争(1961 ~ 1975)，为越南共和国(南越)及美国对抗越南民主共和国(北越)及“越南南方民族解放阵线(又称越共)”的一场战争。越战是二战以后美国参战人数最多、影响最重大的战争，也是美国至今唯一一次战败的战争。
18. serviceman [ˈsɜː(r)vɪsmən] n. (男)军人
19. billfold [ˈbɪlˌfəʊld] n. (放钞票等的)皮夹子
20. frazzled [ˈfræz(ə)ld] adj. <口> 磨损了的
21. sheepishly [ˈʃiːpɪʃli] adv. 羞怯地
22. pocketbook [ˈpɒkɪtˌbʊk] n. (没有背带的)女用手提包
23. without batting an eyelash: 连眼睛也不眨一眨，全然不流露感情(eyelash也可换成eye或者eyelid)