Great Gifts For Teachers and Educators

** This post is sponsored by The Wright Stuff Chics -- trendy gifts for teachers and educators. As always, all opinions are our own. Thank you for supporting the brands who support our blog! **

I feel like T.J. and I can't write about our elementary school days, and the impact teachers had on our lives, without showing you what we looked like back then. You know, back in the 90's when hair cuts were weird and turtlenecks were all the rage. So, here goes... let me set the scene for you. 😂

Enter: T.J. Mousetis. Cool guy. Apparently loves really big sweatshirts and watches. Got his head to fit into a hat for a school photo. Loves to play POGs.

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Enter: Brooke Courtney. Most definitely cool. Can twirl a baton and play the clarinet like nobody's business. Pulls hair back way too tight into ponytails. Loves cats. Kept Puppy Giga Pet alive for weeks inside school desk.

I mean, can you even handle those photos? I'm dying from laughter. Thank goodness T.J. and I barely knew each other back then... or I'm not sure we'd have ended up together. 😂I'm kidding, of course we would have. I mean look at that hair!

When our friends from The Wright Stuff Chics reached out and asked if we'd feature them in a post, we immediately said yes. We love that they provide great gifts for teachers. Much like our shirts are made to start a conversation about faith, we love that their shirts help teachers proclaim their love for teaching, kindness, and making a difference in kid's lives.

I also immediately thought of our longtime fan and friend of walk in love., and all around awesome teacher, Mrs. Krouse. (T.J. has spoken to her 3rd grade class several times about owning your own business and what it's like to sell t-shirts. Their 3rd grade questions are always the best!) She and I caught up last week as we walked around the elementary school where she teaches, and chatted about what we remember about our teachers from when we were kids, the impact she aims to have in her classroom, and obviously what Netflix shows we're watching right now.

While I don't remember too much about the day to day activities of Elementary School, I definitely remember my teachers, and the unique ways each one helped me to grow, learn and be creative.

I am still friends (Facebook friends, that is) with my kindergarten teacher, she comments on photos of Junie and Sunny and it makes me so happy. I remember "beach day" in 1st grade where the classroom was transformed into a beach for the day and we sat on towels under umbrellas and did our lessons. In second grade my teacher kept some of my projects as examples and I’d never been prouder. 😂 In third grade I remember the long term substitute we had, and that she had a tattoo on her shoulder, and that she was easily the coolest person I’d ever met. She talked to us like we were real people and not just kids and I loved that. In fourth grade I remember starting clarinet lessons and this one green turtle neck I wore a lot. I loved my 5th grade teacher because apparently (according to my Mom), I came home from school one day and say "I love my teacher because she doesn't let the boys get away with anything!"

T.J. lived in California up until 5th grade, so his memories are quite different from mine. He remembers being being the minority in his classrooms, where most kids were Vietnamese in Southern California, and that somehow he got skipped over when learning the state capitals. Apparently in California they do them in 5th grade, and here in Pennsylvania they do them in 4th. So... he never learned them. 😂 It's okay T.J., we still think you were super cool back then in your yellow sweatshirt and hat. 😉

T.J. also told me that he won Student of the Year in 2nd grade. No big deal.

In addition to asking about what shows she loves watching, I made sure to ask Mrs. Krouse why she began teaching in the first place, and I adore what she had to say...

"I initially pursued education because I really love connecting people with resources. In the first few years of teaching , I thought this meant connecting children to the "right" method or answer. But year after year, I realized my purpose evolved. Now after 10 years, I believe an educator's purpose is to connect children with *opportunities*. Truly, that's all they really need. Opportunity to explore, to engage, to challenge, to redefine, to create. And if I can create that opportunity and they're not told WHAT to see, or HOW to get the answer, they begin engaging in authentic learning: curiosity, imagination, experimentation...failure! And, they're not doing something for me, or for a grade, or for a parent - they're doing it for themselves. If I can connect them with the opportunity to learn, it unlocks something much bigger inside themselves, much bigger than anything I could give them. Really, isn't that what we're all searching for? To me, that's the value and purpose of being an educator." -Mrs. Krouse, 3rd Grade Teacher

Geez! Inspirational much!? How awesome would it be if each of us, as teachers or educators, as parents or spouses, aimed to live that way? If we aimed to create opportunities for our loved ones to explore, to engage, to challenge, to redefine, to create!

Teachers never get enough thanks, so if you can, take a minute and say thank you with a gift like one of these t-shirts, a heartfelt note, a phone call or a Facebook message. I try to reach out to my favorite teachers who really had an impact on my life from time to time, in hopes that they know I'm so thankful for all of the opportunities they created for me. I hope you'll do the same.