Teacher gifts don't need to be complicated — or expensive

The school year is rapidly coming to a close. And that means many students and parents are thinking about gifts for their teachers.

Two teachers from Surrey and Vancouver say that the gifts they truly love come from the heart, and often involve the written word.

Elizabeth Riegert, who teaches band at Vancouver Technical Secondary School, says in the teachers' lounge, her colleagues never talk about the gift cards, expensive candles or other material gifts they get. Only the notes. 

Riegert keeps all the handwritten notes she's received from her students throughout the years in a big box at home. 

"For me it's [about] however thoughtful you can make it. The notes from students, the handwritten things, are always my favourites ... things that they know are personal to me are the ones that hit home," Riegert told Laura Lynch, guest host of The Early Edition

She says many cards have brought tears to her eyes, especially if the student wrote about the great things she as a teacher had done during the year. 

"I received a card this year. [It] is going to be of one of those ones that sticks in my heart. A student who I didn't know was struggling with some things, said that band class was the class she enjoyed the most and the one that she came to school for. That was something really special to me."

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It's not about the money

Gurpreet Bains, head of the language department at L.A. Matheson Secondary School in Surrey, says because she works at an inner-city school, many families don't have the money to buy gifts. Instead, some of her students write their thoughts on a piece of paper.

"[They] draw a heart on there ... draw whatever they feel they're connected to in this classroom ... and to give it to me. I put it up on the wall and it's just a reminder to me about what I do and why I do it," said Bains. 

Bains says the best gift she's received was a large graduation photo with an essay on the back about Bains, and why the student chose to take her class.

"The reason [for giving a gift] is just to show your gratitude for what the teacher has done for you and that's enough for us."

Listen to the full story here:

With files by The Early Edition