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Top five gifts to give teachers

Published on: June 01, 2009

The
countdown to summer is on! As kids cross off the days until the end of school,
you can bet their teachers are doing the same, wondering how they’ll ever get
it all done before they can collapse in a grateful, sunblocked, summer-lovin’
heap.

For nine long months, most kids have spent one-third of
their waking hours in the care of a teacher; teachers who patiently explain,
vigilantly supervise, enthusiastically praise, gently correct. They also sing
on cue, staunch nosebleeds, and mitigate those endless “friendship problems”
that seem to crop up at every age.

How can we ever thank them?

I recently surveyed a dozen teachers from schools all over
the city. I promised them anonymity in exchange for a little inside scoop. A
former teacher myself, I know they are delighted, flattered – even (sadly)
surprised – when they receive any
form of thanks at the end of the year. They are happy to be appreciated, and
you don’t need to spend money to do it (see below). But if you want to take it
a step farther, here are some gifts that teachers really love.

  • Gift cards. Ever-popular with teachers! Great teachers often
    spend their own money on classroom supplies and books, so a book store
    gift card is a great way to replenish their own book budgets – and provide
    for a little summer reading. The teachers I surveyed also like cards for
    coffeehouses and gardening centers, Nordstrom and REI.
Multiple families can pool their resources to give the
best gift card possible to that special teacher. Gift cards also make excellent
class gifts; imagine how much fun you’d
have with a couple hundred dollars to spend at Nordstrom!
  • Pampering experiences. A great way to say, “Thank you for wearing yourself out on behalf of
    my child!” Consider a gift certificate to a spa if your teacher seems like
    the spa type; this is another great group gift.
  • Dinner out. One of my favorite gifts of all time was the gift
    certificate to a swanky Bellevue restaurant, given to me by four families
    from my classroom. My husband and I enjoyed Kobe beef and a fine bottle of
    wine, and toasted those nutty little kids I’d spent the past year teaching.
    It was so appreciated!
  • Other cool gifts. For those incredibly talented – but hard to
    buy for – teachers, why not think creatively? Concert tickets or even
    subscriptions (group gift!), a membership to EMP, or an Amazon gift
    card for buying great music could be the ticket.

And finally, the most beloved gift of all, which costs you
not one dime:

  • A handwritten note of thanks. If your child’s teacher has
    touched his or her life…if you’ve seen growth, academically, emotionally,
    or socially… or if your kid just loved school, tell the teacher! Take a
    few minutes to write a note of praise, and have your child do the same,
    too. Let me tell you: Teachers have a lot of tough days! On those days, it’s
    wonderful to have a few heartfelt little notes to open and read, and
    remind you of why you do the exhausting, crazy-wonderful job of teaching
    little kids.

Oh, and the gift most
often re-gifted
(according to my informal survey and personal observation): chocolate.

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