A+ Gifts for Teachers

A+ Gifts for Teachers

Simple, no-fail ways you and your child can say Thanks.

Ask any teacher if he or she needs another #1 Teacher mug, and you’ll probably get the answer you expect: not really. But that doesn’t mean your kids’ teachers don’t enjoy being remembered and celebrated. There’s perhaps no better time to do this than during Teacher Appreciation Week, which occurs the first week of May. Apple mug jokes aside, what most teachers truly want is to hear—directly from students and families—that they’ve made a difference: that their hugs got your fearful 5-year-old through his first week of kindergarten, that their gift of turning math into an adventure gave your fourth-grader a love of numbers, that their open-door policy and willing ear helped your high-schooler through a tough time. 

So what is the best way to show how much you appreciate those efforts? Don’t worry if you failed elementary-school art and don’t have a Pinterest account: even the least crafty parent-and-kid combos can find meaningful ways to thank individual teachers or a whole staff. 

From You and Your Child

A heartfelt letter: Hands down, this is the gift that all teachers want—and the one they’ll always treasure. Resist the urge to write your child’s letter for him, but if he doesn’t know what to say, provide him with some prompts: “What was the most interesting thing your teacher taught you this year?” “When you think about your teacher, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?”

Colored-pencil vase: Take a clean glass jar or vase and arrange enough new colored pencils around it (point side up) to cover the outside. Secure the pencils with tape; then cover the tape with a ribbon. Bonus: Eventually, she can use the pencils! 

From a Class

Gift card flowerpot: Either solicit voluntary cash donations from parents and buy several gift cards (to a hair or nail salon, a bookstore, a Panera Bread® bakery-cafe, a big-box store), or suggest that each family buy a gift card of their own choice. Have the kids make paper flowers on pipe-cleaner or plastic-straw stems, and tape each card to a stem near the flower. Arrange the “flowers” in a small pot.

Stamped canvas tote: Teachers always have books and supplies to cart around; give yours a large canvas tote that the kids put their stamp on—literally. Buy a tote and some fabric paint at a craft store, and have the kids stamp the tote with store-bought stamps or with cut fruit (an apple half is a no-brainer). Or have them paint their names and the date. 

Summer relaxation kit: Teaching is hard work, and summer’s coming! Put together a kit designed to help your teacher relax into summer break: books or magazines, sunscreen, a gift card to a yogurt or ice cream shop, sunglasses, a beach towel.

School supplies: You might not think that gathering up a big box of crayons, markers, pencils, composition books, folders, and Post-it Notes is exciting, but many educators, especially in lower-income districts, end up buying supplies for their students themselves. That deserves appreciation!

From the Whole School

Lunch of the day: Ask teachers how often they get out of the building for a non-brown-bag, non-cafeteria lunch. Not often, right? As a school-wide effort, parents can chip in to provide potluck dishes from home, or catered trays from your local Panera Bread, and lay out a daily spread in the teachers’ lounge.

Coffee bar: Less involved than lunch but just as welcome? A morning barista bar. Set up a few single-cup coffeemakers and offer various options for coffee and tea. Sweet treats optional!  

Massages: Collected a decent fund? Hire a massage therapist to set up a chair and offer complimentary head-and-neck rubs during free periods.

Panera Bread Fans Say Thanks with Sweets

Teachers (and those who love them) share their favorite Panera Bread thank-you’s.

“I’m a preschool teacher, and I love the Triple Berry Scones. Delicious to give and receive!” —Jerry M.

“Panera’s Bear Claw is absolutely the best way to say Thanks and I love you!” —Jim R.

“One time a mom gave me a loaf of Panera Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread, and that child made my day!” —Mary D.

“A Panera gift card is the best idea. Teachers and school staff love to be treated, and taking their loved ones with them is even better. When I get a gift card from Panera, my husband and I can’t wait to go and chill and talk over coffee and a bagel.” —Christy B.

“All teachers love everything at Panera—cookies, bagels, soup, salad, sandwiches, muffins, and coffee!” —Terri W.

“Honestly, teachers just like being appreciated. Any sweet treat with a thank-you is all teachers need. I loving being in education because I get to see all the good that is in those little hearts.” —Sonia D.