Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A New School Year and My Philosophy on Gifts for Teachers and other School Staff

In a former life (from the age of 26 to 34) I worked at a school. I did many jobs in the school, I mean it, at one time I drove a van/mini bus shuttling students between campuses, I was the yard duty lady, one of the lunch ladies, I was a part time Art Teacher (you gotta work at a high school for that to be a full time job), the Activities Director, the Office Lady, and finally the Assistant Director. Im not giving you my resume here. Im telling you this because, even though I was not a student, I learned a lot working there. In the staff and teachers, the Director(s), the parents and students I found some amazing teachers.

This school where I worked was a bit of a posh private affair. The families came from the local community and the four corners of the earth. We welcomed students from all over the world on a regular basis and it was an amazing experience.

So. I didn't have kids at the time and frankly working with all those kids and their parents was an excellent birth control. But long before Pinterest or even Facebook I was building an idea of what I wanted my kids lunches to look like (Bento!) and what teacher gifts should be like. Our parents were so generous! If this is how educators are treated in other countries then we are really missing the boat. I came home with a car full of gifts every Christmas and a weeks worth at the end of the school year. We were not paid a lot by the school, but the students and parents showed us so much love daily and showered us with gifts on holidays, they unknowingly made up for it in a lot of ways.

My husband says Im nuts, that my expectations are out of whack. I don't know about that. What I know is this. There are people taking care of my kids. Heck, they are EDUCATING them. If I can't give them a little something special, not outrageous, just something that I have thought about and planned, if I can't take the time to show them how thankful I am to them, what's the point? Good Teachers put a lot of themselves into their work and I don't care how much they get paid, that pound of flesh they give to our future every day will never be fully paid back to them.

Last year my oldest daughter started Kindergarten at our local public school. This was a new experience for me. I mean, I attended public school from K-4th grade but that was a million years ago! I had only worked in the private schools so I had no idea what to expect. Thankfully the principal is fantastic and the office staff not only put up with my 1001 questions but they made us feel welcome.

Im not big into a lot of the trends to be frank I don't have the money or the time to go chasing whatever comes after birds or mason jars. However last fall I was well aware of the mason jar trend and saw this fantastic, and giant version at Target. I had been collecting items all summer to put into a basket for the start of school and I figured this would be a perfect receptacle.
The thing about this gift at least in my mind, is that the giant jar is a a gift in itself!
Here is a list of what I put in last year's jar.
two packs of scotch tape
cute pencils
hand sanitizer
various sizes and shapes of post it notes
small note cards
a small $ gift card
a note saying how excited we were to have her as L's teacher

Last year L's teacher was a runner so her gift card was from Jamba Juice.
My favorite color in all the world is orange so that was the color ribbon I used. I tried to put in items that she might need and would supply for the classroom herself.
Here is how it turned out-


It's not a full day pass to the local hot springs/spa or Nordstrom gift card but I thought it was a cute gift. The entire thing ran me about $35 including the $17 jar (from http://www.target.com/p/ball-collector-s-jar-1-gallon/-/A-12794404#prodSlot=medium_1_4&term=mason+jar) and the $5 gift card.

At some point I posted a picture of it on pinterest, that sucker has blown up in the last two months! I have watched in amazement as it went from 0 re-pins in June to over 100 last week. Seems there are enough people out there who feel the way I do. Im glad to know they are there!

This year I went out and got two of the jars and I'm doing a slightly different version for F and L's teachers. Watch this space and find out how it went!