Here are some of our favorite answers to this question. Read all the responses on CTA’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/californiateachersassociation. Want to add to this? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Melina Yamarone: Butterflies (pinned with their Latin name) in a frame with about an inch of dust… as if he took it straight off the wall of his house. I loved it and display it in my class to this day.
Nora Allstedt: A sign stolen off the wall of a restaurant in Germany along with picture of dad taking sign off the wall.
Mallory Moore: A Costco size bottle of Listerine, shampoo, and conditioner.
Jay Davis: Five years after he graduated, a student let me go from a speeding ticket after lecturing me on citizenship. He had joined the local police force.
Camille Alfred: I received a double-barreled rubber band gun at the end of the year from a student who said it was for “crowd control.” I have never laughed so hard!
Leticia Gallegos: A kindergarten teacher friend received a pack of condoms from a student who thought they were Band-Aids.
Cheryl Thompson: A clear vase filled with different colored origami stars. The girl told me it took her six months to make. It is gorgeous, and on bad days, I look upon it and remember her and the positive impact I have on students.
Diana Naccarato Archerda: A made-for-TV facelift kit. Complete with a video and neck tightening machine. Geez.
Chiara Macciardi: A nameplate made of steel, welded by my student. But he didn’t proofread it, so it’s Mis Chiara… It sits on my desk. I love it.
Mark Galipeau: A pedicure! My first one.
Aja Cook: A papier-mâché rat (the thing is truly grotesque)… Made shortly after finishing the book Of Mice and Men.
Mary Lub: A leek from a migrant education student. My first-grader had broken his collarbone, so I agreed to go to his house after school to be his home teacher. His mother was very proud to give me something that dad brought home from work.
Brianna Heinrich: A boat made out of cross sections of a seashell. I love it.
Nadine Loza: A toothpaste and toothbrush set. Made me think, “Is it the coffee?”
Carolyn Friedman: A vibrator. It was obvious that Mom did not know the child had wrapped and brought it to school. It was accompanied by a sympathy card signed by this severely disabled seventh-grader. It was Christmas. The child knew people gave gifts and cards. She could not read, so…
Christina Spain Temple: Dried seasoned codfish.
Ryan Cole: A small vial of water with the title “Tears of Children” written on it. Makes collection so much easier.
Diana DeCamp: A used breast pump! It was 1986 and my first year of teaching. I was single and childless. A little boy took it from his mom’s closet, put it in a bag and handed it to me with a smile… dry milk and all! :)
Olga Garcia Cabrera: A rock about the size of the palm of my hand… it had a sticky note that said “Hola Señora.”
AnnElena Bacon Fors: Chicken feathers.
Shelley Templeton Bennett: Flan, buttermilk syrup with a recipe for pancakes, and Oreos… all homemade from three brothers I’ve had in the last five years. Delicious! Lucky for me, there are two younger siblings.
Monica C de C: A fifth-grade student gave me a 5-foot teddy bear! I still have it… But you should have seen me try to put it in my small car.
Spencer Holmes: A dead shark in a jar, and a frozen pet hamster. :-/
Trent Stillman: Korean silk embossed good luck sign. Hangs over my doorway. Supposed to bring good luck, wealth, and happiness.
Birdie Forsythe: A pair of zebra slippers. I keep them under my desk and put them on after school when I need comfort!
Elizabeth DeFrancis: A hot dog, because he said he ran out of apples!
Betty Schulz: A Jack in the Box antenna topper.
Lisa Phinney Berghaus: A used electric razor. It was pink and obviously her mom’s. I was teaching third grade. I will never forget it, lol…
Sonia Díaz: Anti-wrinkle cream :|
Erika Bruce Dryer: Sheets “) so my clothes would smell good.
Leslie Brandon Machado: An old motorcycle magazine from one of my 6-year-old students who lived in the dorm at a school for the deaf. She found it at her house and wrapped it with a piece of string all by herself. She was so excited to give it to me! I’ll never forget her or her heartfelt present.
Dena Elfers: A lava lamp…
Elizabeth Bernhardt: Last year for Christmas I got a purse with deodorant in it.
Dede Heimbigner: $2.50… It was his lunch money :-)
Samantha Carr: A 99¢ Store year-old mug with candy from Halloween, as a Christmas gift! A little dust included :)
Sharon M. Donovan: A cupcake with all the frosting carefully licked off!
Jennifer Keb Broussard: A gummy bear from the child’s pocket. One year I was presented with a used change purse full of little treasures… Barbie shoes, a quarter, a baby chick foam craft, and string. She’d gone shopping in her room!
Shirley Casallas: Rod Stewart’s greatest hits CD. I teach kindergarten, and our school is two blocks away from the Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles… how rock ’n’ roll of him… he’s in eighth grade now :)
Carrie Brown: A completed puzzle of the Constitution and a flag. It was glued onto newspaper. Orange lace and pearls were hot-glued to the edges. I opened in class and as I ripped the paper a ROACH crawled out… Instant chaos.
Chuck Olynyk: A surprise birthday party for the (recently) single teacher, which involved inviting every single pretty teacher and substitute on campus.
Mary Furlong: An Eiffel Tower made of gingerbread cookies! Beautiful!
Daryl Myers: An Edgar Allan Poe bobblehead. He has a raven on his arm and shakes his head instead of nods. “Nevermore,” indeed!
Teresa Whiteside: A live chicken! I had to walk it home on a leash I had made from my shoestrings… I was teaching in Nigeria and had no idea how to carry a live gift!
Taiann Knetge Gordon: A used Christmas Santa teakettle and mugs that were all chipped. But I liked it.
Mary Knaus Sampson: Dinner for my family and me at her family-owned Chinese restaurant.
Wendy Dillingham-Plew: 6-foot-long air-pressured water balloon cannon. For science, of course!
Lorelei Yates: Letters and visits after many, many years! :)
Sonia Cruz-Plancarte: An angel-teacher with books.