At this time of year thoughts turn to giving gifts to teachers, principals, school secretaries and others who work in the schools.
During my 10 years as a 3rd grade teacher I received many thoughtful presents from students and parents. I remember getting shaving lotion, candy, sports items (hats, etc.), homemade cookies, and "World's Greatest Teacher" coffee mugs. I always followed up each gift with a "thank you" note. My mother taught me a long time ago to write "thank you" notes to let people know you received their gift but also to acknowledge their friendship or the relationship that you had with that person (grandmother, aunt, etc.)
As a principal I always sent "thank you" notes to anyone who did something for the school. The highway dept. worker who stopped plowing snow to help the custodian shovel a path into the school, the mailman who always took our outgoing mail each day with a smile, the volunteer who brought in homemade fudge for the teachers' room, the elderly gentleman up the street who donated his collection of old story books, the teacher who went beyond the call of duty and stayed with a child who missed the school bus, and the parent who counted up all the "Box Tops for Education" coupons all received "thank you" notes from me. As a principal I also received gifts from students, parents and staff.
Over the years I found the most interesting ones to be a gift card to the local car wash, a pass to the local movie theatre, a book donated in my name to the town library, a bag of birdseed so that we could feed the birds all winter in the birdfeeder outside of the kindergarten classroom, and homemade Irish Soda Bread. When I retired 2 1/2 years ago I know that the State had issued a statement concerning the monetary value of gifts to public employees of which teachers and school personnel are included. School principals usually inform parents about these regulations and it limits what students and parents can give to them.
So, if you want to do something nice for a teacher or school staff member consider these...talk to the school librarian or your child's teacher about a book that would be suitable to donate to the school library in the teacher's name or are there classroom supplies that the teacher could use (boxes of Kleenex, stickers or markers) or make a donation to the local food pantry in the teacher's name (take your child's photo bringing the cans of food to the drop off location and give the photo to the teacher in a card) or give the teacher a homemade "volunteer card" where you will offer to take home some work for the teacher (making vocabulary flash cards, cutting out letters for the bulletin board, etc.) or offer to bring in a sub for lunch some day from D'Angelo's (Fridays are a good day to do this after a long week) or offer to come in to read to the class a couple of times throughout the year or give the teacher a pair of homemade mittens (made by the parent and the child). I know that I (and most teachers) prefer creative gestures over tins of cookies or store bought candy.
So...Have a very happy holiday season and don't forget that it is not the gift that counts as much as the thought! We all need to feel appreciated! Lastly, the greatest gift that anyone can give a child is the gift of reading. Please take time to read to and with your child on a regular basis. Reading opens up the world to all of us and it is a life skill that provides us with so many opportunities and keys to success!