"Okay fifth-graders, here are the scores on yesterday's math assignment. Billy, you received a one hundred percent. Johnny, you received twenty five percent, therefore I would like you to go back and correct the problems you did wrong."
Billy smirked then in a sing along voice said. "Ha, ha, ha Johnny is stupid!
Johnny is stupid! You have to do the assignment over again. You're going to fail."
Johnny vaulted out of his chair and smacked Billy in the arm.
Mr. Redel clenched his teeth. "Johnny, go stand in the corner for five minutes. Both of you are going to stay after school and have a nice little chat with me."
After school, the boys walked up to the desk. Mr. Redel raised his left eyebrow.
"Okay boys, we can't have you fighting in class. Johnny, under no circumstances are you ever to hit anybody. I want you to say you're sorry to Billy right now."
With his eyes filling with tears, Johnny dipped his head down. "I'm sorry."
Mr. Redel peered over his glasses. "Billy, Johnny has learning disabilities. That doesn't make him stupid. As a class, we need to do everything we can to help Johnny. Name calling only makes things worse. Billy, I want you to tell Johnny that you’re sorry."
Billy looked up as he trembled. "I am sorry, Johnny."
Mr. Redel looked into Johnny's eyes. "Johnny, I want you to write, 'I will not hit other students,' one hundred times. Billy, I want you to write, "I will not call people stupid' one hundred times. Do you both understand your assignments?"
The two boys scowled at the teacher. "Yes, Mr. Redel."
"Now, both of you, shake hands."
A week later, Billy caught up with Johnny at the coat rack. "Johnny, do you understand the assignment on fractions?"
Johnny shoved his books into his bag. "I think so, but I'm, not sure."
Billy reached out to help carry his bag. "Do you want to come over to my house and I'll help you?"
Johnny rolled his eyes. "I don't know; you called me stupid last week.”
Billy frowned. "I was wrong; Mr. Redel is right--you’re not stupid. I'm sorry; I really want to help."
Johnny threw his coat on. "Okay, I'll come over. Do you forgive me for hitting you?"
"Yep, no hard feelings." Johnny held up his fist.
Billy responded with a fist bump. "No hard feelings."
A month later, as Johnny was walking out of the classroom, Mr. Redel looked up. "Hey Johnny, you've been doing better in math."
"Yeah, Billy has been helping me."
Mr. Redel smiled. "Wow, something good came from Billy's remark."
"Yep, we're best friends now. We've learned it's better to be nice than to be mean." Johnny gave the teacher a high-five as he left the classroom.
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