Archive for Wednesday, December 15, 2010

First Bell: Appreciated — and appropriate — holiday gifts for teachers; thank an educator; boundaries catching board’s attention

December 15, 2010


So you’re trying to come up with a nice, appropriate gift for your child’s teacher for the holidays.

A card?

An apple?

A fruitcake?

A gift card?

Reader poll
Students and their parents may choose to provide gifts for teachers this time of year. What's the most appropriate form of gift?

or See the results without voting


In the Lawrence school district, you’d better check in with the boss first: Policy dictates that teachers may accept gifts only if the principal says it’s OK.

And it generally is, to a point.

First of all, teachers don’t expect anything and should not expect anything at all, said Frank Harwood, the district’s chief operations officer.

“There should be no expectation that a student needs to give a teacher a gift,” Harwood said. “We don’t encourage students giving gifts to staff or vice versa, but we understand that some students and some families think that’s something they’d really like to do.

“As long as it’s not something of great value, and it’s of very well meaning, that’s not a problem. But if it’s a very large gift, or a very valuable gift, it does create problems.”

Dave Cunningham, the district’s director of legal services, human resources and policy, offers his own translation of district policy: “Getting something nominal from a kid is OK. Getting something more substantial from a vendor is not.”

In the end, school principals are the ones who determine what’s appropriate, Cunningham said. Individuals giving gifts, or a room parent looking to coordinate the purchase of a class gift, might want to contact the principal to make sure that no lines are being crossed.

“You want to be able to control those situations,” he said. “You’ve got the kid who brings in the apple, and the kid who brings in the watch: That’s not something the principal wants to have happen.”

And don’t forget: The best gifts aren’t always the biggest, the most expensive or the most of anything else.

“They are always thankful for kids who are appreciative of what they do,” Cunningham said


Looking for a more public, less tangible way to say thanks to a teacher or staffer or volunteer who helps educate, nurture and encourage your child through school curriculum, programs or activities?

Send me a note. I’ll endeavor to put together a list to appear here in this space, leading into winter break.

Just write up some kind words and pass them along via e-mail:


Members of the Lawrence school board are talking about boundaries again, even if they have no clear plans to make any changes for the coming school year.

Board members have directed staffers to keep track of the history behind the district’s current boundaries, and to be mindful of opportunities that might be available for rethinking boundaries as a method for managing student counts — and the demographics of such school populations — in the years ahead.

Members of the district’s Equity Council were set to discuss boundary issues Wednesday evening, and district administrators have plans to monitor any recommendations from the Lawrence Elementary School Facility Vision Task Force for boundary implications. There’s also talk of administrators seeking input from members of “school communities” themselves, possibly through site councils, and from staffers and individual schools.

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BigPrune 7 years, 6 months ago

Arrr, hey what's grammar anyway?

wildhrt 7 years, 6 months ago

Re: "appropirate"

Aye Matey though my first reaction was Avast. And spelling as well, in an article about educators no less. A quick check of the Urban dictionary did reveal however, that "appropirate" means "pirate approved" as in "Have some rum, it's appropirate!" Perhaps the writer of this article fully intended to use "appropirate" to convey the sense that holiday gifts for educators should not only be approved by school principals, but ultimately by pirates as well.

Shardwurm 7 years, 6 months ago

My gift to the teachers is that I paid my taxes so they can remain employed.

Merry Christmas.

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