Stu­dents creative with thank-yous to teach­ers

Creative ways stu­dents can say thank you to teach­ers and staff

Calgary Herald - - FRONT PAGE - KATIE WORK­MAN

With the be­gin­ning of a new school year just weeks away, par­ents rec­og­nize that a great teacher is a gift that can last a life­time. So how to show our thanks?

Many teach­ers say their favourite gifts are home­made. Presents that speak to a child’s gen­uine feel­ings for the teacher, or re­flect the teacher’s in­ter­ests, are the most au­then­tic. Time and thought trump money.

Gifts can be from your in­di­vid­ual child, or some­thing a whole class can par­tic­i­pate in.

Oh, and don’t for­get to also show grat­i­tude to your school’s se­cu­rity folks, kitchen staff, ad­min­is­tra­tion, main­te­nance crew ... all the people who make the school tick.

At my kids’ school in New York City, a small group of par­ents cre­ated a Cookie of the Month ini­tia­tive. Every month, a cou­ple of grades are asked to bake a spe­cific type of cookie, which changes month to month. Par­ents and kids can vol­un­teer to bake a batch, and then the cook­ies are col­lected in the cafe­te­ria on a cer­tain day and dis­trib­uted in cookie jars and cute con­tain­ers with labels say­ing thanks. The baking re­spon­si­bil­ity is dis­trib­uted among all grades through­out the year, and many par­ents and kids take the op­por­tu­nity to bake to­gether. Some other ideas:


Older kids can make tote bags with ap­pre­cia­tive mes­sages writ­ten in per­ma­nent mark­ers, or dec­o­rate the class­room door with notes and art­work as a sur­prise. Lit­tle kids can cre­ate a tote bag with, say, hand­prints in non-wash­able paint; word clouds with words and phrases that the kids as­so­ciate with their teacher; thumbprints col­lected on a sturdy poster board that can be turned into a bou­quet of bal­loons or leaves on a tree.

“I loved when my stu­dents put to­gether a ‘Thank You Teacher’ book­let where all the chil­dren com­pleted a page and the book was bound with a spi­ral type of bind­ing,” says Kathleen Casey, who teaches sec­ond grade in Fair­lawn, N.J. “My favourite all­time gift was an orig­i­nal su­per­hero comic book star­ring me as the su­per­hero who saves the world by teach­ing im­por­tant lessons!”

Pam Lon­don, a preschool art teacher in Spring­field, Va., said, “One year a family gave me an en­ve­lope with a bunch of Po­laroids of their child with her favourite cre­ations from class. I just loved that.”

It’s simple to have each kid in the class make a card, and bind them to­gether with a pretty rib­bon.

Anna Moshura, an as­sis­tant prin­ci­pal at the Brook­lyn (N.Y.) School of In­quiry in New York and a former science and kinder­garten teacher, fondly re­mem­bers re­ceiv­ing a per­son­al­ized cal­en­dar adorned with stu­dent art­work and class pic­tures.

A good old-fash­ioned hand­writ­ten note, draw­ing or other type of art­work would also make a teacher happy, she says.


If you know your teacher loves a par­tic­u­lar smoothie or cof­fee drink, get a gift card from his or her favourite place. Keep the amount small if it’s from a sin­gle child, but if the whole class is chip­ping in, then you can think about larger pur­chases, like a cer­tifi­cate for a pot­tery class or new run­ning shoes.

An­to­nia Fusco, an el­e­men­tary school read­ing teacher in New York City, ap­pre­ci­ated re­ceiv­ing “a charm bracelet with dif­fer­ent trin­kets, sym­bol­iz­ing my dif­fer­ent likes and in­ter­ests.”

Or con­sider a ball jar of a teacher’s favourite colour pen­cil (with a cute la­bel), a base­ball cap from her favourite team or a mug with a funny on-point say­ing.

Add a per­sonal note to any store-bought item.


Name a star for a teacher, adopt a pen­guin in their name from the World Wildlife Fund, or give a per­son­al­ized leather book cover to the teacher who likes to journal.

“Peren­nial plants are lovely gifts and help me to re­mem­ber my stu­dents,” Casey added. “I’ve been gifted tiny rose bushes over the years that are now enor­mous!”

And there’s no statute of lim­i­ta­tions on say­ing thanks. Jennifer Preuss, a Grade 1 teacher in En­cino, Calif., re­cently re­ceived an email from a mom whose son she had taught five years ear­lier.

The boy was asked dur­ing an in­ter­view for mid­dle school which four people he would most like to have din­ner with, and he in­cluded his first-grade teacher. She was de­lighted to know her teach­ing had made such a last­ing im­pact.


A pret­tily wrapped quick bread, a small bas­ket of cook­ies, jams and other pre­serves, herbed vine­gars, home­made gra­nola — there are many de­li­cious ways to ex­press ap­pre­ci­a­tion for a teacher.

Moshura loves get­ting baked goods from stu­dents, some­times with the recipe at­tached.

Fi­nally, you can al­ways go with the clas­sic shiny red ap­ple (a hand-picked one is a good call).


A stu­dent ex­presses grat­i­tude to a teacher in a letter in­cluded in a hand-bound book. Many teach­ers say home­made gifts like these are bet­ter than those pur­chased in stores.


Stu­dents cre­ated a teacher ap­pre­ci­a­tion box and filled it with notes and mem­o­ries as a thank you.


Par­ents and stu­dents thank teach­ers and staff at a New Mil­ford, Conn., school with home­made cook­ies.

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