Four plates of cookies,
three Starbucks gift certificates,
two coffee mugs and . . .
a pork chop still hot from the stove?
A see-through nightie?
A stolen necklace?
At a time of year when teachers are digging their way out from the holiday avalanche of cookies, candles, books and mugs, some student gifts stand out from the crowd, from the beloved preowned Teddy bear to the lingerie too racy to show the rest of the class.
So we asked veteran grade school teachers, which gifts are, well, simply unforgettable?
For Lynne Karzi, it was the pork chop. She was teaching at the former Mary Church Terrell school when a 2nd grader brought her a fried pork chop wrapped in tinfoil. He was very pleased with his gift and wanted her to eat it in front of the class."I ate it," she says, noting that it was hot and expertly prepared. "What could you do?"
Karzi, now a 2nd-grade teacher at the Ole A. Thorp Scholastic Academy in Chicago, also received a roll of Life Savers back at Mary Church Terrell. The present made an impression, she says."Every Life Saver meant a lot to me."
At Willard Elementary School in Evanston, 3rd grade teacher Fran Livatino recalls a necklace she received 20 years ago when she was at a preschool on the North Side of Chicago. A kindergartner named Troy with whom she was very close gave her a gold chain with a charm."They just didn't have anything," she says of the boy's family, "and yet he wanted so badly to give me something."Then there was the necklace another teacher received while working at a Chicago school."OK, where'd you get this?" the teacher asked, smelling trouble. From his mother's jewelry box, the gift giver admitted. Wouldn't his mother miss it, the teacher asked gently."Oh no," the boy said. "She's in jail."
Maris Herzog's most memorable gifts include a training bra. The bra had the "BabOOn" label, a status symbol along the lines of Tommy Hilfiger in Korea, the mother's country of origin."Along with my training bra, I also did receive a girdle," says Herzog, a preschool teacher at Walt Disney Magnet School.
Another student, a 1st grader, gave Herzog a sheer nightgown with two show-girl tassels."Oh thank you so much," Herzog said, stuffing the nightgown back in the box so the rest of the class couldn't see it. Herzog has also been favored with used soap, a single earring (her teaching partner got the other), a tattoo parlor gift certificate and Jell-O."I received lime and strawberry," she says.