WHEELING - Students shopping for their favorite teachers this year, remember this: the best gifts teachers receive are the ones that remind them of their students.
This holiday season, instead of the standard mug, candles or bath products, a personalized gift that took some time to put together will be what warms teachers' hearts on cold winter days. These gifts don't have to be just for teachers either. Principals, counselors and staff would love to be on the Christmas list, too.
A photo album of any size makes a wonderful memento for a teacher to really show thoughtfulness and care. To keep costs low, there is no need to buy a large scrapbook size album. A smaller one that holds just a handful of favorite photos will be just as appreciated.
A variety of photo albums available at Ben Franklin Crafts make great gifts for teachers.
"A student gave me a photo album one year and it was the best thing ever," Kristyn Fetko, a counselor at Ritchie Elementary, said. "It means so much to me, and it made me feel so loved. The things students make are so much more meaningful."
To score bonus points, the album can be in the school's colors and decorating them with stickers or attaching small notes adds a delightful touch. If you don't have photos on hand now, ask the teacher if he or she has photos or bring a camera to school and start clicking away. Also, don't worry if there are some unfilled slots in the album. This will give the teacher a chance to fill it with photos taken after Christmas.
Shawn Kusich, fifth grade teacher at Ritchie Elementary, said that the best present he received in recent years was a stamp with his name on it that he could use to sign school papers. The gift wasn't flashy, but it was personalized and useful, two qualities teachers appreciate.
"Instead of signing my name over and over again, the stamp had my name and said 'signed and returned,'" Kusich said. "It saves me a lot of time."
Before you buy gifts, it is a good idea to ask you teacher how long they have been teaching. If a teacher has only been at that school for a few years, he or she might still need some classroom supplies. Make your way to the Imperial Teacher's Store or the nearest dollar store and find some items for the classroom. Buy an inexpensive colorful plastic bucket and fill it with classroom supplies such as dry-erase markers, scissors, tape, chalk, stickers, construction papers or crayons.
For teachers who don't need more supplies, think outside of school for a gift. Teacher Elaine Sedilko said that other than perfect attendance from students, the one present she would like to see is a donation made to a charity in her name. For teachers who don't need more supplies in the classroom, stop by their favorite charity and give a donation of any amount in the their name. Some local charities include the Soup Kitchen of Greater Wheeling, St. Vincent de Paul Society, the Ohio County Animal Shelter, Wheeling Health Right and the American Red Cross.
When shopping for a teacher, students should keep in mind that they don't need to spend much to give a great gift. Teachers agree they don't want their students spending all their money on them. A price range of $5-$20 is an appropriate amount to spend on a teacher. Just remember the best present for a teacher is personal, thoughtful and low-cost. Keep those qualities in mind for a gift they will never forget.