Yesterday we received a lovely email from devoted reader (and friend!), Kelli:

One of my very bestestest friends in the world has just found out thatnext year she will be going from long-term substitute teacher tohaving her very own 4/5th grade class at her current school startingthis fall. I wanted to send her a congratulatory gift in the mail butdon't really know what I should get her. I can't decide if I shouldcater to her personal life (she loves cooking and baking and running),or get her a classroom starter-kit themed gift. I'll probably have tokeep it all under 50$ or so, but I think creativity and innovation canstretch my dollar! I just want to let her know that I still love hereven though she lives hours away and I never see her, and to remindher that she better not mess up all her adorable students if she wantsthem to be as awesome and teacher-admiring as I am.

First of all, tell her congrats! Teaching is the most rewarding job, and she's going to love it. I definitely thought long and hard about giving the right answer for this email; being a new teacher can be a rollercoaster, but having the right elements in your life can make the little everyday things seems so much easier to handle. I would start with something I literally cannot live without and use every single day: my trusty tote-bag! While I love both L.L. Bean's and Land's End's bags, I have to say I prefer Land's End's bags simply because they have pockets on the inside! I store my cell, wallet, keys and sunglasses, but the medium sized bag is also perfect for folders, tests, papers, and those occasional treats you bring into the kids. If you get the medium sized bag, with a monogram (of course! Make sure to get Ms. HerLastName!), than the bag comes out to around $33. Not so bad, of course. But, we're not done yet. The trick to being a great teacher is having little things around in case a kid needs some cheering up, or that extra little "I'm proud of you" gift. Fill her tote bag with the cutest, most fun, and colorful little school supplies you can find! Check your local Michael's or Target for their dollar bins (or a dollar store!), but if you don't live near one of these, check out the assortment of goods from Oriental Trading Company. I love their interesting and fun pencils, erasers (middle schoolers have a weird obsession with erasers), and pencil sharpeners. Having some of these fun goodies around her desk will surely make her a hit with the kids! And, if you happen to have a little leftover, get her a good box of tea; some days, all that a teacher needs is a delicious granola bar and a hot cup of tea to get through the day! (I love Larabars!). Good luck to her, with your gift at hand, she's bound to be great! Let us know what you end up getting, Kelli!

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