Students' guide to the holidays

Dec. 21, 2001, midnight | By Annie Peirce | 19 years ago

Ideas for what to give teachers

Winter break is on its way and the race for presents is on. The tie for dad; the earrings for mom; the candy-canes for friends, all are wrapped and waiting for delivery. But there is one part of teen's life that is sadly forgotten during the gift-giving festivities: the teachers.

Here's the students' guide to buying presents for teachers.

According to several teacher sources, they usually receive presents from five to ten students a year out of the approximated 150 students they teach. Thus, any present is appreciated, not as much for their materialistic value but rather for the acknowledgement that the students were thinking of them.

Food is always appreciated and the most common gift given by students to teachers. Various species of chocolate, pound cakes, and home-baked goods are distributed daily in the teacher lounges and figurative brownie points are awarded in the minds of teachers for children who can achieve the most "oohs" and "aahs."

Cards are also a standard, along with gift certificates to "Borders," "Starbucks," and other local stores and restaurants. Gift certificates are one of the most appreciated presents by teachers; they show thoughtfulness and still allow teachers to choose their own non-consumable gifts. Social Studies teacher, James Mogge says the "best present ever" was one of his students gave him a gift certificate to a Chinese restaurant for his entire family.

Social Studies teacher Cherie McGinn, recommends giving useful gifts "which you can never get enough of," such as note cards with funny sayings, post-it notes, and notepads. Social Studies teacher Jake Lee also raves about a set of really nice pens given to him by a student.

For those who are more ambitious gift-givers, social studies teacher Anne Manuel suggests mugs and plants as a popular gift. Great for both male and female teachers, mugs are useful and fun, especially if they have fun patterns themed for the teachers' interests. Plants also make great gifts, adding beauty and color classrooms often sadly lacking in life.

Once a student gave Manuel a package of fancy bath products, but she didn't read too much into the underlying message of the gift. "I tried not to assume that they wanted me to bathe," says Manuel.

For the more creative types, English teacher Richard Rhodes speaks with admiration of students who have given him original poetry as gifts. Mogge also has fun with mix tapes that students have made for him in the past.

Teachers love to get presents, so long as there is no manipulation involved. Math teacher, Paul Grossman described how one of his students gave him a pound cake and said, "I got an A for this in sixth grade, what's it worth now?" Grossman laughed at the memory, but admitted that it was one of the better tasting cakes which were handed around the math office that day. Even so, the student's grade was not affected.

Although Grossman acknowledges that he may be short-changing the thoughtfulness of many students, he believes that presents more often come from appreciative parents than appreciative students. "Parents who have respect for teachers [buy presents for teachers]," he says.

Even if gifts are appreciated and accepted by teachers, students should never feel obligated to buy their teachers gifts, says social studies teacher Patricia Anderson. However, as the saying goes, the best gifts are free. Grossman says that the best presents he has had were the thank-you letters which students have given him in return for college recommendations. "Non-material [presents] are by far more important," says Grossman. "The best present from students is their undying loyalty and diligence."

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Annie Peirce. Annie Peirce is a senior in the Communications Arts Program and the public relations manager for Silver Chips. She is also an opinions editor for Silver Chips Online. She was born on October 25, 1984, in a hospital somewhere in Prince George's County; but doesn't … More »

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