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Other Kinds of Apples: End-of-the-Year Teacher Gift Ideas


More-seasoned writers warned me that as a new author at my first book signing Id be lucky to sell half a dozen books. So I was taken aback when one woman bought six books all at once. When she handed the stack over for me to sign I had to ask what she was going to do with them all. She told me they were gifts for her kids teachers. Wish Id thought of that when I had kids in school!


Plenty of local parents are counting down these last days of school and wondering what to do about gifts for their own childrens teachers. A little investigating in a few local classrooms provided some suggestions for Naperville families.


While gift-giving seems to be more common around winter break, more than 75% of students also give gifts at the end of the year. The trend lately has been for parents to organize a group gift during the holiday season with all families contributing, but end-of-the year gifts tend to be more personal.


In online forums, teachers comment candidly on the gifts they have received. Nearly all are less than enthused by number one teacher and apple-themed gifts, but they are evenly split in how they feel about gifts intended for the classroom versus those meant for use at home.


Susan Faber, a third grade teacher at Mill Street Elementary, noted that younger teachers really love gifts for the class as it takes years of personal expenditure to outfit their rooms. Stuart Vance from Spring Brook Elementary adds that after teaching for twenty years, I love to have something new in the classroom to enjoy with the next group of children.


But personal gifts are also greatly appreciated by local teachers. One memorable gift Faber received was an ice tea jug with all the accessories for enjoying over the vacation break. Every summer when I make my sun tea, Faber says, I smile and think of that parent wishing me a wonderful summer.


Gift cards were welcomed by all the teachers, particularly those from bookstores since they could be redeemed for either classroom or personal items, but by far the gift teachers most valued was a note from a student or parent.


Amy Baumgartner, who teaches second grade in District 204 says she is always thrilled by anything the kids give me, but is especially touched when students tell her how much they enjoyed the school year. Faber collects all the notes and handmade cards she receives in a scrapbook. Their own words about their memories of the year we have just shared together are really the most precious gifts!


Writing notes or making cards is certainly easier on the family budget than buying gifts, particularly when the kids have multiple teachers. And notes are appropriate for every educator from preschool on up through high school. But more importantly, a heart-felt thank you is the gift that every teacher most appreciates. Vance says simply They are the treasures that I keep forever.



With both of her children in college, Katharine Kendzy Gingold no longer worries about giving teachers gifts. Instead she focuses on giving teachers tools by writing childrens books on local history for classroom use. See for more information.




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