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Ten People to Thank for a Good School Year

Add to Your End-of-Year and Holiday Gift List

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When it comes to holiday and end-of-year presents, teachers are usually at the top of the list. You may be used to thinking up teacher's gifts for your child to hand out, but don't forget all those other people who make a school day successful for your child. Your remembrances don't have to be lavish -- a small package of home-baked cookies or box of candy, even a nice note would do. Consider adding some of these school workers to your gift-giving rounds.

1. Teachers

You've probably considered your child's classroom teacher, but there may be other teachers with whom your child interacts on a daily or weekly basis -- gym teacher, music teacher, art teacher, librarian, resource-room teacher. Often, your child may see these same educators year after year even as classroom teachers change. Give them some thanks.

2. Paraprofessionals

Chances are, your child in special education interacts with paraprofessionals -- maybe known as aides in your school -- throughout the school day and year. They may be assigned to your individual student, to a group of students, or to assist the teacher in the classroom. They work hard and don't get a lot of recognition. Give them some.

3. Therapists

School therapists are also people your child sees every week, all through the year, and often from year to year. It may take a little planning to gift them at holidays or the end of the year, since they may not be in the school on the last day. It's worth some planning and asking around about scheduling, though, to make sure they're included in your gratitude.

4. Service Providers

If your child gets special services like a sign-language interpreter, assistive technology help, or tutoring, consider recognizing that individual's efforts when you're passing around the thanks.

5. Lunch Room and Playground Aides

Not every kid develops a relationship with the workers who help out in the lunchroom and on the playground -- but if your child is one of them, and often tells stories about what Mrs. So-and-So said and did, a little gift is a nice gesture for someone who's made an effort to interact with your child.

6. Bus Drivers and Aides

If your child takes the special-education bus to school, he or she spends more time with the bus driver and aide on a weekly basis than with therapists or other school personnel. These are also people who do a very stressful job without much appreciation. Especially if you've been happy with the bus service and the way the bus workers have handled your child, give a small gift and a heartfelt thank you.

7. Principal

Maybe your child's contacts with the school administration haven't been so nice, and the last thing you want to do is say thank you. Some kids, though, do have a happy relationship with the school principal, and that can translate to more tolerance for your child and a little more behavioral leeway. If that's the case for you, let the principal and other administrators know how much you appreciate it.

8. School Secretary

Maybe you get more calls home than most parents. Maybe you're running in to school with things your child has forgotten more often, or sitting in the office waiting for meetings with teachers and child-study-team members more often. If you've struck up a friendship with the school secretary, or benefited from that individual's kindness and understanding, a gift is a great way to keep the good vibe going.

9. School Nurse

Children with special needs may have a more familiar relationship with the nurse than many, whether for routine medication distribution or management of medical crises. The nurse's office can also be a safe place for a kid with coordination problems to dress for gym, or a vulnerable child to use the bathroom. If the nurse does a lot all year to keep your child healthy and happy, show your appreciation.

10. Child Study Team

Sure, a lot of times what you'd really like to give those folks is a piece of your mind or a kick in the pants. At those other times, though, when your child has had a good year and supports put in place have worked and compromises have been reached and respect has been paid, let the paper pushers know that you appreciate their work. It may help you have more of those good meetings and fewer of those infuriating ones.

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