When the time comes this year to thank your kids' teachers, skip the same old coffee mugs and go for something these hard-working folks will truly appreciate.
"I've received things like home-cooked meals, drawings and bead bracelets," says Juliet Markowitz, a teacher at Nuckols Farm Elementary School. "I knew the kids, and their parents had me in mind when they were making them — and that's the kind of gift that means more than anything."
Katie Crook, a teacher at St. Catherine's School, says, "The best gift I can receive is a handwritten note from a parent letting me know how I made a positive difference in their child's life that year. That is so special."
A gift from the heart like a note, or the scrapbook of photos and handmade cards that Shannon Couvillion
assembled for her daughter's third-grade teacher, who was going on maternity leave, is simple and long-lasting. Jennifer Munn, a kindergarten teacher at Maybeury Elementary School, makes collages with the special notes she receives and calls them "a real morale boost."
Chipping in for a class gift can be just as thoughtful — and keeps the teacher's desk from getting cluttered. Try decorating a planter with kids' thumbprints turned into whimsical figures like bees and frogs. Do it yourself or get help from a paint-your-own pottery studio. Or purchase a large wall clock and paint the names of the kids in the class and "We had a great time in first grade!" on its face. Choosing something you know your kids' teacher will love will make it memorable. And that's the point of a gift, isn't it?