DEAR ABBY: I teach aspiring elementary school teachers in a credential program in California. The family of one of my students came up with a great way to celebrate her graduation from the program and help her prepare for her new career as a teacher. They threw her a "teacher shower."
To help her start her classroom library, each guest brought a hardback copy of his/her favorite children's book. She was also given baskets of teacher supplies such as Sharpie pens, Post-Its, stickers and colored paper for the school copier.
Other gift ideas are class sets of small white-boards with markers, board games, membership to teachers' organizations like the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and the National Council of Teachers of English, subscriptions to children's and teachers' magazines, art supplies, a museum membership, P.E. equipment like balls and jump ropes, etc.
I know the shower meant a lot to my student, and in states like California, where teachers often spend hundreds, if not thousands of dollars of their own money for classroom supplies, throwing a teacher shower can be a terrific way for families and friends to show their support for the new teacher and for education in general. I hope you will print this, Abby, to help spread the idea of teacher showers and show support for the next generation of classroom teachers. -- JULIE, A TEACHER'S TEACHER, BERKELEY, CALIF.
DEAR JULIE: Dedicated teachers are among the unsung heroes in our country. They guide and shape the members of future generations, and rarely receive the credit or the income they deserve for their efforts. I love the concept of a teacher shower to help young, idealistic educators get off to the start they need, and I hope the idea will be popularized not only for new teachers, but also more experienced educators who would find it helpful. I'm sure there are many.