Arlington Co. considers limiting gifts to teachers

WASHINGTON – Maybe your child has a favorite teacher who went above and beyond to help your child this year. So you want to give a holiday gift, but what’s appropriate?

School districts across the country have rules for gifts to administrators from outside contractors to avoid conflicts of interest. And some school districts have adopted rules, and set limits, on what can be given to teachers.

Arlington County’s Board of Education was scheduled to vote on a measure Thursday night that would limit gifts to $100 for any teacher during a school year.

But what do teachers want?

On her blog, fifth grade teacher Vikki Wynne of Winder, Ga., says gifts aren’t necessary. But she understands and appreciates the impulse to show appreciation to teachers. So she says, keep it simple: school supplies are best.

That may sound boring, but Wynne explains at the beginning of every school year, teachers get a box of supplies. And with each succeeding year, that box has gotten smaller, and smaller due to tight budgets. By December, a teacher’s classroom resources can use a refill.

“We really do use sticky notes every single day. I use Sharpie markers every single day!”

Wynne says non-school related gifts are nice, but again, should never be expensive. Wynne works in a rural school district with a sizable number of kids on free and reduced meal plans.

“We know sometimes, those families struggle to make ends meet and we don’t want to be the reason their budgets are blown.”

She says one student noticed that she drank tea, so gave her a box of teas. Another knew that Wynne, who teaches science as well as social studies, loves manatees, so the student gave the teacher a stuffed manatee that always goes on school field trips.

But the best gift, says Wynne, comes without ribbons or wrapping.

“Having the parent say how much we mean to them and their kids’ educational journey, that just to me and to so many teachers, can mean so much more than a tactile gift that we can hold. We just love knowing that the kids appreciate us.”

You can read Vikki Wynne’s blog on holiday gifts here.

WTOP’s Kate Ryan contributed to this report. Follow @kateryanWTOP and @WTOP on Twitter.

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