4 June 2009 05:15 PM

End of Year Gifts for Teachers

by Dr. Rick

How did we get to the end of yet another school year so fast?  All those homework assignments, special projects, games, concerts, readings, compositions, activities, spelling tests, first chapter-books, parent-teacher conferences, and social events.  Before we sigh that deep sigh of relief, there’s one more activity we need to tend to.  It’s hardly a chore, but something you’ll want to give some thought to.


What’s the right end-of-year thank you for that favorite teacher who’s spent so much time with your children, giving them new skills, encouraging them, helping them when they’re floundering, and helping us to weather the occasional adolescent storm?


Over the years, I’ve received my fair share of colorful mugs, pen sets (I’m a sucker for fountain pens), and inspirational books, to say nothing of clever t-shirts (“I teached foniks gud”).  Many of these gifts sit on my office shelves to this day, bringing me memories of funny adventures (the photo of me in full-1970s hair explosion at the “Dunk the Teacher” booth of the school fair) and heartfelt experiences (the ceramic wise owl from my first-year students).


My most memorable gift was also the funniest.  It was a homemade cherry cheesecake from a “secret elf” (whom the rest of the class gave away by their turning heads and eyes).  I was serving it as dessert for my family, when I discovered that, nestled at the bottom of the pie plate, was that month’s Playboy Playmate, in her jiggly pulchritude, smiling coyly up at me.


But with today’s sputtering economy, parents ask for other ways to show their appreciation, less expensive perhaps but equally sincere, maybe even more so.  In just the past few days, I’ve spoken to teachers who’ve shared their stories that reflect the poor economy but also the thoughtfulness and creativity of parents.


  • One teacher shared with me a healthy chunk of warm-from-the-oven, homemade sourdough bread, tied with twine and a bow of fresh rosemary.  It came with a lovely note that thanked this teacher, known for his class dramatizations of books and history lessons, for “giving my shy daughter her voice.”

  • I’ve heard of massage therapist moms who volunteer an afternoon in the school library to help teachers soothe away those year-end child-induced stresses. Also manicures, pedicures, even haircuts.

  • Parents combine small amounts to make a nice contribution to teachers’ favorite education charity, to help pay for scenery for the school play or the buses for a trip to the museum or historical society.

  • Children, with the help of parents, make baked goods to place in the school office or faculty room, accompanied with homemade thank you posters, made from construction paper and sparkles.

  • Parents volunteer to chaperone an end-of-year activity, giving teachers a little reprieve, a lot of support, and some grown-up company.

  • Families write nice cards with their own words, memories of the school year and personalized thanks for little favors and big lessons.  Often, teachers are completely unaware of the impact they have on their kids, so it’s especially good to receive one of these “keeper” cards.  (I save them in my yearbooks and read them when I need a lift.  They never fail.)  You can even mail it after the last day if you’re too shy to give it in person.

There are as many ways to say thank you as there are people to thank.  Take a few moments at this special time of the school year to express your gratitude to that special teacher.  It’ll make you feel good, and it’ll make the day of your teacher.  I promise.


Teachers, what are some of the creative and thoughtful ways parents and students have said thanks to you over the years?  Share them with us by clicking on “comment” below.




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