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Give Teachers the Gifts they really want for the Holidays


ChristmasClarksville, TN – You have a few children in school, each of whom has one to six teachers. You want to do something nice to say thanks to each teacher, but you’re definitely on a limited budget. Here are some ideas that may help you out.

Christmas Classroom

Christmas Classroom

First, never underestimate the power of a hand-written note that expresses your appreciation. Of all the gifts I’ve received from parents, those heartfelt notes mean the most.

When I was a young teacher in Florida, I included every child in the Christmas program. (This was in ancient times when everyone in the community had grown up there, had gone to church together, and it was still politically correct to mention “Christmas” as the reason for the program.)

At the end of the evening all the kids entered the auditorium, filled the aisles holding up tiny flashlights that resembled candles, and sang together, “Let There Be Peach on Earth.” It was a moving experience that I, for one, never forgot.

An example “Thank You” note

Dear Teachers,

This is a note to say “THANK YOU” for all that you have done and are doing for our child. The words “Thank You” convey our Gratitude, love, prayers, blessings and best wishes to you all.

…Seeing our child perform on stage, made our eyes water and hearts swell with pride. This was possible only because of your efforts. We thank you very much. Your patience, love and painstaking efforts were evident during each moment of the “Show”…

Thanking you. In appreciation and Gratitude,

Yours sincerely,

The next week I received a beautiful letter from the mother of three of my students. This woman had been abandoned by her husband when he learned that she had a progressive illness that would end her days in a wheelchair. (He claimed he was too young to be tied down to a “cripple”.

Words I’d like to use describing him are inappropriate for this format.) She struggled alone to rear her children, all of whom were model students. In the entire school of 550 students, she was the only parent who spent the time to thank me for the work it took to coordinate that hour-long event. I have never forgotten her amazing kindness.

On the other hand, if you want to spend a little money for a gift, consider school supplies of any kind. All teachers spend an amazing amount of money providing for their students. Your remembering to give a box of chalk, a few pens or pencils, a package of index cards, a box of erasable markers, some pushpins for the bulletin board, or even a package of copy paper will delight your child’s teacher.

school_suppliesAnother gift that truly gives every day is the insistence that your child respect his teacher. The child who uses good manners is the child who makes a teacher’s day. Every child, at one time or another, has a complaint about her teacher.

When you listen and reply that you understand the child’s concern, remember to state that adults make mistakes too. Check with the teacher to get the other side of the story before you begin to criticize the teacher in front of your child.

A child who begins to believe he can manipulate his parent into believing any situation he names at school—whether it is real or imagined—is an unhappy child. Many problems for the child and the teacher can be avoided by a conference with parent, teacher and child present.

If you truly want to spend more than a dollar or two, you can choose a gift card, a flower arrangement or a box of thank you notes. All are gifts that most teachers appreciate.

Not every teacher is competent at keeping a live plant living and all of them are overloaded with mugs. Many teachers have health issues that preclude eating sweets. Some are allergic to perfumes and soaps or candles that are scented. Most teachers have a houseful of “knickknacks” already.

signUpSheetThe bottom line is that you don’t have to feel a necessity to gift your child’s teacher with a thing. Volunteering to help out in the classroom will give you an insight on what a teacher’s day is like. The teacher will appreciate the extra pair of hands and you will get an education you might never have imagined.

The grandfather of one of my students was talking with me recently. Along with his dear wife, he is now rearing his three grandchildren. He insisted, “If every parent or guardian had to spend one day a year in school, some real changes could be made when the person sees what a teacher goes through. Too many people think teachers are just sitting around. They have no idea what teaching is like today.”

The holidays are a time of sharing good will. Be sure to include your child in deciding on a gift for the teacher. His uniquely wrapped present or her carefully drawn card will show the teacher that thought and effort went into the gift’s selection and after all, that’s what showing appreciation is all about.

About Sue Freeman Culverhouse

    Sue Freeman Culverhouse

    Author of Tennessee Literary Luminaries: From Cormac McCarthy to Robert Penn Warren (The History Press, 2013) Sue Freeman Culverhouse has been a freelance writer for the past 36 years. Beginning in 1976, she published magazines articles in Americana, Historic Preservation, American Horticulturist, Flower and Garden, The Albemarle Magazine, and many others. Sue is the winner of two Virginia Press Awards in writing.

    She moved to Springfield, Tennessee in 2003 with her sculptor husband, Bill a retired attorney. Sue has one daughter,  Susan Leigh Miller who teaches poetry and creative writing at Rutgers University.

    Sue teaches music and writing at Watauga Elementary School in Ridgetop, Tennessee to approximately 500 students in kindergarten through fifth grade. She also publishes a literary magazine each year; all work in the magazine is written and illustrated by the students.

    Sue writes “Uncommon Sense,” a column in the Robertson County Times, which also appears on Clarksville Online. She is the author of “Seven keys to a sucessful life”, which is  available on and; this is a self-help book for all ages.

    Web Site:


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