A personal touch gets extra credit.

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Many students love their teachers and want to give gifts as the school year draws to a close. But do teachers really need another coffee mug?

They don’t. It’s hard to figure out what to buy them, however, because most teachers will tell you that a child who excels is their best reward.

For those of you who are going to give a gift anyway, or help your child give one, here are a few suggestions from metro Atlanta educators.

“The best teacher gift I ever received was a jar of the student’s family backyard honey,” says Paul Siegel, a teacher of freshman literature at Dunwoody High School. “It was unique, delicious, and mixed well in tea. So much better than more candy. Almost as good as an Amazon gift card.”

Blair Rostolsky, an English and special education teacher at Decatur High School, says gifts that demonstrate how well the student knows the teacher are particularly affecting.

“For example, I eat very healthily,” she says. “My students know that I don’t eat cookies, candy, etc., so I’ve had students give me gift cards to Whole Foods and write something like, ‘Now you can go get lots of vegetables!’”

Starbucks and Whole Foods gift cards, various prices
Starbucks and Whole Foods gift cards, various prices

A potted plant is the gift that keeps on giving, says Lilian Bryan of Atlanta, founder and trainer emeritus of Montessori Institute of Atlanta. “They can be enjoyed for a long time in my home — and they are not fattening,” she says.

A teacher in a Fulton County high school who prefers to remain anonymous says movie passes are a wonderful gift. “Get us two tickets to take our significant others out. It shows us you know we are human and that maybe we just need to see that new ‘Night of the Living Dead 3’ while it is still on the big screen,” the teacher says.

A Huffington Post story on the topic suggested donations to charity in the teacher’s name, handmade cards, drawings, and, “The best one of all: a letter from a student or parent that comes from the heart. No present can replace the feeling of knowing you made a difference.”

Margaret Ciccarelli, director of legislative affairs at the Professional Association of Georgia Educators, asked her members about teacher gifts, and says “teachers love books for the class library and gift cards. A heartfelt thank-you note or picture drawn by a student is always appreciated.”

Gifts can sometimes veer into the questionable, or the inappropriate. Do not give alcohol-related gifts, for example.

Better to stick with a Starbucks card, says Fulton special education teacher Tessa Wilber. Best of all are heartfelt letters, original poems and drawings, she says.