“Teacher, Do You Love Me?” Ensign, Mar. 1986, 41
A number of years ago a little nine-year-old boy named Mark moved into the ward with his parents. He started coming to primary. It wasn’t long, however, until a serious problem had developed. Mark disrupted his class so much that no teacher would stay with the class more than a few weeks.
After a few months of frustration, the Primary president prayed about the matter and felt impressed to ask the bishop for a release so she could teach Mark’s class. Together they prayed and fasted, and then the bishop released her to be the teacher of the class Mark was in.
Sister Olsen was a very experienced, capable teacher, and she entered Mark’s class with considerable preparation and prayer. But within minutes, the generally well-behaved children were whistling, jumping over chairs, kicking, spitting—doing everything Mark was doing.
When she went home that night, she told her husband that she had made a mistake. She couldn’t handle the class. If it kept up, she, too, would have to quit. Her husband listened to her tale, then challenged her to try a little harder.
Weeks went by, some better than others. At times Sister Olsen felt encouraged when she could give part of a lesson before Mark ruined it.
Then one day, at the end of a lesson on love, she told each child that Heavenly Father loved him and that she did too, putting her hand on each small head. But Mark would have none of it. He jumped up screaming, “No you don’t! You don’t love me! Nobody does!” Then he ran from the room. She managed to hold together until all the children had left; then she sat down and cried. She knew deep down that she didn’t love Mark. She tolerated him, but feelings of love had never really grown.
She began anew. She worked and prayed and fasted some more.
She talked to Mark after Primary one day. “I love you, Mark. You don’t have to love me, but I love you very much.”
He didn’t say anything, but walked away.
She wrote a special letter telling his parents some of the things she liked about him. She took pictures of all the children in class and put them on a poster with a brief comment about each child written below each picture. She asked Mark to help her return supplies to the library. She sent him a birthday card, signed with her name and the words “Mark, I love you.” She arranged to be where he would be and said hello and visited with him briefly. She did everything she could to let him know she loved him.
The love she had developed for Mark started to make a difference. Eventually things changed in class. He was her ideal student.
Then one spring evening Mark came running to her home and flew into her arms sobbing, “Oh, teacher! My folks are moving and they say I have to go too! What am I going to do? Who will love me now?”
She waited until his sobs died down. Then she took his tear-stained face in her hands and said, “Mark, I want you to always remember one thing. Heavenly Father loves you. And no matter where you go, he will always love you, and there will be a Primary teacher waiting who will love you just as I do.”
Mark did move. Three years later the teacher answered the telephone and heard a voice on the other end say, “Teacher, do you love me?” It was Mark.
He was passing through town and his parents had allowed him five minutes to make a phone call while they put gas in the car. Mark said, “Teacher, it’s just like you told me it would be. They did love me! But this year I left Primary and I was really worried I wouldn’t get to go to Scouts because we live a long way from the church. But my Scoutmaster called and asked me to go with him. He cared about me, too.”
As the years passed, the bond between Mark and Sister Olsen deepened. And every Mother’s Day Sister Olsen receives a card on which Mark has written, “Teacher, do you love me?”