A rabbi tells this story in a video I saw about the inspirational teacher.
A young man went over to another Jew at a wedding and said, “Do you remember me? The other man looked at him and said, “No, who are you?” The young man introduces himself and tells him that he was one of his students. “You were my student in third grade,” the man says. “It’s been a long time, what have you been doing, how are you?”
The young man says, “I am a teacher now”. “Just like me”, the man says. “What inspired you to become a teacher?” the man asks. “You inspired me to teach”, he says. “Well, how did I inspire you?” asked the man. “Because of the impact you made on me at school I decided that I could also inspire other young people, so I decided to go into education.”
The man asked, “What impact did I have on you?” The young man recalls the events of the day that made such an impact on his life. “It was the day one of my friends brought a beautiful wristwatch to school which was a gift from his parents. I always wanted a watch but couldn’t afford one so when I saw the one my friend had, I decided to steal it from his pocket. When this boy discovered his watch was gone, he complained to you that someone had stolen his watch. You announced in class that whoever took the watch should please return it. I didn’t give it back because I was too embarrassed, so I kept it.
You then locked the door and said that everyone should line-up and empty their pockets. When you said this, I thought that this will be the most shameful moment of my life. You asked for all the boys to close their eyes when you went from pocket to pocket checking for the watch. When you came to my pocket you found the watch, took it out, and proceeded to check the rest of the boys. You then told everyone to open their eyes again.
You gave the watch back to its owner and never said a word to me or mentioned the episode of the watch ever again. I thought about how you saved my dignity from being stereotyped or labeled as a thief and a liar. I thought that this must be what a teacher is about. The way you handled the incident and protected my dignity inspired me to want to do the same and become an educator like you.”
The teacher says to him, “Wow, this is amazing; I had this impact on you?” The young man looks at him and says, “Don’t you remember that it was in my pocket you found the stolen watch. I’m sure you didn’t want to embarrass me when you told everyone to close their eyes.” The teacher looks at him and says, “I didn’t know it was you who stole the watch. My eyes were also closed when I searched for it.”