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by Abigail Van Buren

Best Gift for Teachers Is Appreciation of Students

DEAR ABBY: Get out the wet noodle for your answer to "A Parent in Oregon." As a public school teacher, I'd be insulted if I received a package of construction paper or pencils as an end-of-the-year gift.

The No. 1 thing teachers would like is respect. This can be demonstrated with a kind note (and a copy to the principal). A gift certificate to a bookstore or restaurant is also a wonderful way to show that a teacher is appreciated. The appropriateness of the gift, of course, will depend on the situation of the family, the school and the teacher -- but a gift from the heart of a child is always special. -- MARILYN FUNDERBURK, ARLINGTON, TEXAS

DEAR MARILYN: I was unprepared for the flood of mail I received from teachers, informing me that my suggestions were off base. A male teacher recently wrote to say he would welcome stock certificates and T-bills. In years past I have received letters from teachers who requested the items I mentioned. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: Having spent 32 years in the classroom, 30 of them in inner-city schools, what would be wonderful would be gift certificates to a moderately priced take-out restaurant for the times I'm too swamped to prepare meals (or to celebrate making it to the end of another year!). Also, movie tickets to use during the summer -- or even a gift certificate to a "dollar store" for those incidentals that a teacher can never afford for his or her classroom or home. But please, no school supplies at the end of the year. That's like giving a nurse a thermometer or tongue depressors. -- RETIRED IN SOUTH CAROLINA