What makes a good end of the year teacher gift?

Thursday, May 26, 2016

By: Matt  Norman  

With the end of school coming next week you might be thinking about end-of-the-year teacher gifts. If you're like me, you're always pretty stumped by what to give those deserving teachers who worked so hard all year molding your kids. So, rather than remain clueless, I decided to go straight to the source: Teachers. 

I come from a family of educators. In fact, I'm the only person in my family who is NOT a teacher. Here are a few teacher gifts my family recommends...

My older sister, 10+ years experience teaching elementary school:

Gift cards are always welcome and I truly use them. One year a class got together and gave me a spa package. That was nice. That was before I had kids, though, so I actually had time to use it!

A few classes have made something for me - like one year they made one of those paint-it-yourself plates with all the kids' names on it. I set that out in my class every year.

Once, a parent sent an email to my principal and superintendent telling them what a great year their child had and how much I had helped them come from being a struggling student to being a strong student. It was really sweet and my superintendent even emailed me afterwards with some nice words. Usually bosses do not have time to walk around and compliment you on your teaching, so to have a parent speak up and remind them that you are actually doing your job and doing it well is nice.

Really, anything a parent wants to do to show that they are thankful that you worked with their child with is nice...And gift cards are always welcome!

My brother, 5+ years experience teaching junior high and high school:

I rarely get gifts from students. This year I talked about how dumb giraffes were and then a student got me a giraffe calendar for April Fools'. 

The random email or letter from former students are probably the best.

(Author's note: He's grumpy about giraffes because he's short, so don't mind him.)

My dad, retired after 35+ years experience in secondary education and school administration:

As a high school teacher, I don't remember getting any gifts.*

*My mom says he liked getting cookies and sweets at the end of the school year when he was a principal, but that mostly came from the teachers at the school and not students.

My mom, retired after 35+ years teaching elementary school:

A special note is, for sure, the very best. Also, anything a parent might "pick up on" about the teacher throughout the year. One parent knew my sons played football, so she gave me a little football player charm.  That was sweet and thoughtful. One parent gave me an Aggie cup when she found out your sister was at A&M. One time I got a Frio River rock because, through a writing lesson, the kids knew we went to Garner State Park to camp in the summertime. 

And the sweetest gift of all and one I will always remember was from a little guy: a partially used, almost empty bottle of perfume. He told me he liked it because his mom used that kind. I thanked him and we all sniffed it and oooh-ed and aaaah-ed about it. Then later on I called his mom to be sure he had not taken her perfume without her knowledge. She started crying and said that he wanted to bring it to me because he loved me like a mom. She said she was hesitant to let him bring a used gift, but decided to take a chance that I would understand. I treasured that sweet gift.

And if you're not the sentimental type, gift cards are always nice.

So there you have it. Something nice; something sentimental; something tasty...or a gift card. You can't really go wrong. One more thing, though: Don't forget those middle and high school teachers, as well as administrators, librarians, and all the other folks at your child's school. They ALL work hard to help your child's development, and a little kindness goes a long way at the end of the school year!

Happy Summer!

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