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A gift for teacher: How to make a lasting impression of thanks on a limited budget

Everyone that has ever been a parent of a student has been faced with this dilemma at one time or another. How do you show appreciation to a teacher that puts up with, not only your little genius, but also 20 other little genius' all day long?  We all recognize that most teachers are underpaid and overworked, yet most of us are dealing with the current economic crisis and are not able to be as generous as we would like to be when it comes to thanking them with a gift.  Here are a few ideas I've accumulated from both personal experience and some field research that would put a smile on any teacher's face;??

  • Gift Cards:  I know, I know, a perennial favorite but also overused.  Borders and Starbucks are usually a good fit.  Why not try a gift card to a teacher supply store (since most teachers have to pay for a lot of classroom materials on their own).  A few good ones to check out on line are  www.schoolbox.com or www.teacherstorehouse.com.  
  • Or, for the younger grades, a gift certificate to the local dollar store to supply the ever-present "treasure box" might make sense.  Better yet, visit the dollar store on your own and present her/him with a box of ready made giveaways for prizes!??
  • Make lunch/breakfast for your favorite teacher(s):  Why wait for teacher appreciation week or the last day of school.  Teacher's need support all year long.  Find out their favorite snacks/latte flavors and gift them in the middle of state testing week.  Always a hectic time of the year for the staff and a much better time to offer relief than mid-June.??
  • Volunteer your time:  If you are on a strict no-spending budget, why not volunteer to be a class aide once a week or even once a month (make coupons to give the teacher as a representation of the time that you can commit).  The schools are woefully understaffed and any teacher would appreciate an extra pair of hands to help out.??
  • Photo Book: There are a myriad of websites that can help you make a photo scrapbook from pictures that you (and other moms) have accumulated throughout the school year.  They are inexpensive and easy to put together.  Plus, you can make an extra copy for your child as a memento of the school year.  Check out www.shutterfly.com or www.snapfish.com to get a quick tutorial on the process.??Whatever you decide to do for your child's teacher, remember, the price of the gift does not have to be extravagant to make an impact.  It is the thought and the effort that really count.

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