GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Parents are always looking for ideas for gifts for their children’s teachers to show their appreciation. Six teachers from West Michigan took time to share what tokens of appreciation have meant the most to them.

Andrew Otten teaches math for Northview Public Schools and loves to see his former students. He said a handwritten note or email is a great way to let an educator know you’re thinking of them. Otten showed off one gift he received last year from a student — a handmade calculator. “It’s something small, but it makes me think about that student and I know they were thinking about me when they made it,” he explained.

Marli Oliver is in the same district as Otten, teaching sixth grade English at Highlands Middle School. She received a handwritten card from a student as part of Teacher Appreciation Week and shared a similar sentiment.

“What means the most is getting a card or letter from a student where they really speak from the heart,” Oliver said.

With more than 20 years of experience teaching Kindergarten, and 15 of those years at Caledonia Community Schools, Kelly Petersen has received her fair share of gifts from students and parents, but what she appreciates most is the gift of time.

“When students and parents really take the time to get to know me and communicate with me, and they become part of our family and our team … I feel so appreciated when we can come together to make our community better, make our lives better, and just to make our school a family,” she explained.

Alissa Chase teaches second grade in Caledonia. While she loves receiving anything from her students that has meaning to them, she said there is one thing parents can do to help teachers.

“Continue to raise kind, compassionate children. It goes a long way, and it helps other kids who maybe don’t have those skills yet,” Chase said.

Alex Giarmo and Oliva Miller both teach at East Kentwood High School. Like their peers, they also love the handwritten notes from parents or students. Miller has a former student who keeps in touch, which means a lot to her.

“Once a month, she makes me baked goods, like a birthday cake for my birthday, or cookies,” she said.

Giarmo appreciates when families have faith in him. He explained that parents should “trust the teachers your students have, or if you’re a student, trust that your teachers are professionals. They’ve done this before … and they’re a person who really does care about you. You don’t choose this profession if you don’t care about students,” Miller said.