Glencoe Woman Provides 'Seed Money' For Classroom Projects Through Teacher Peach

Randi Brill’s creation helps kids throughout Chicagoland and beyond increase their confidence.

By Tim Moran (Patch Staff) - January 18, 2017 10:50 am ET

GLENCOE, IL - Entrepreneur Randi Brill discusses her creation, "Teacher Peach" in this interview with Patch.

Can you describe the inspiration for Teacher Peach?

I was inspired to launch Teacher Peach to more directly reach kids and help them grow more confident! I ran a creative product development company in the education space for over 30 years. We spent vast amounts of time and energy creating core curriculum products for PreK-12 students and teachers, yet in that business model, we were totally removed from the very people we worked so hard to help—the kids and the teachers.

So, in 2012 I founded Teacher Peach to reach the teachers and the kids more directly with products that build confidence in both teachers and kids. I also ran our product development company called Quarasan until late 2015. Since then, our team has continued to consult in the creative and marketing industries for companies that focus on kids while we use our creative energy to run this awesome company, Teacher Peach!

Because teachers are some of the most powerful influencers on tomorrow’s leaders and one teacher can reach many students, Teacher Peach helps teachers help kids to be their best! Confidence is about being before doing, which is why we help kids to be their best—so they can then do their best. Every teacher reaches many kids and is in a position to help kids to become confident contributors in school, at home, and out in the world.

Research supports that students who possess authentic confidence are likely to take greater risks to try new things, stand up against bullying, become stronger self-advocates, advocates for others, and grow into engaged, more self-reliant citizens. Peaches grow from seeds, as does confidence when it’s “seeded” well. This is why Teacher Peach focuses on teachers to help them focus on their students in ways that help us all to raise confident kids!

We do this in four ways:

1. Teacher Peach Classroom Products help students tap into and build their confidence with motivating products including certificates, greeting cards, positive postcards, stickers, tools, and other confidence builders that acknowledge both success and progress.

2. Teacher Peach Teacher Gifts make ideal confidence boosters for teachers. By rewarding and recognizing all that teachers do for kids, the cycle of confidence can grow and everyone can flourish! Confident, appreciated teachers help to instill greater confidence in their kids. When families acknowledge teachers for their amazing work, they model the power of appreciation for their kids, too.

3. Teacher Peach Universal Inspiration Products delight anyone and everyone, helping to spark, to inspire, and to entertain—all of which help to build confidence. You don’t have to be a teacher or a student to love and benefit from these upbeat goodies!

4. Teacher Peach donates 10% of the profits from every product we sell to help raise confident kids through a range of grants, programs, partnerships, and sponsorships.

What products are most popular?

Many Teacher Peach products are very popular on our website and on the enormous Amazon Marketplace, where Teacher Peach products often garner coveted above-the- fold search positions for teacher tote bags, greeting cards, positive postcards, certificates, inspiring stress balls, and teacher’s tool kits. Here are just a few links from Amazon to give you a range of the products that are most popular. Our customers love to shop on Amazon because of Prime free shipping and the convenience of Amazon fulfillment so the Amazon Marketplace is a key part of Teacher Peach’s customer service model and business strategy.

What programs has Teacher Peach Seeds supported thus far?

Last year, we created the “Granting Teacher Goals!” High 5 Initiative to test our granting process and it was a resounding success. The intent of this initiative was to create a platform to showcase and celebrate deserving teachers who strive to bring special confidence-building projects to their students. This initiative fueled the dreams of 5 educators, helping them bring some amazing projects to life! The judge for this competition was LeeAndra Khan, Principal at Gwendolyn Brooks Middle School in Oak Park, Illinois.

Teacher Peach awarded five $100 cash grants and a host of free Teacher Peach products geared to the needs and each project team. The winning teachers and their projects added incredible value to their school communities by boosting student confidence through five diverse initiatives. The five winning initiatives were:

1. Beautify the Door, a school community art project,

2. Blending authentic writing assignments with patriotism by “adopting” deployed US service personnel,

3. The Great Kindness Challenge, a kindness movement designed to banish bullying and create a positive school culture.

4. Operation Santa Soldier Stockings to provide goodie-filled stockings to deployed soldiers from Virginia, direct from their home state, and finally,

5. A dignified backpack project for those individuals and families who are currently homeless.

What has been the reaction from teachers who have benefited from this?

We were amazed and delighted with the ingenuity and determination that all of the teachers who applied for this grant displayed. The five winners went above and beyond in their efforts to make such incredible use of these funds and products. Each of these winning projects helped teachers and kids to make a difference. Their feedback and appreciation was both positive and consistent, reaching the school faculty, community, the kids and their families.

This small-scale test also provided the basis for the larger-scale work our team is committed to launching in 2017—all focused on helping teachers and families to raise confident kids. It was through this High 5 beta test that our own confidence grew enough to establish the separate nonprofit Teacher Peach Seeds Fund in 2016 (even though several advisors strongly suggested we wait at least another year). Teacher Peach is still establishing its national base and waiting a year would likely have permitted us to start with bigger grants.

Starting the fund in 2016 meant initial grant sizes are smaller, yet the $100 “seed money” grants for the High 5 Initiative made such “tree-sized” differences to the teachers and students who received them, that we decided to trust our gut and launch it now. Teacher Peach Seeds also permits Teacher Peach to fulfill its core mission and priority: to help teachers and families to raise confident kids. When problems are big, small solutions can seem inconsequential, like drops in a bucket. Yet, to those few who directly benefit, even small grants make big differences. We have big plans for 2017, and beyond. Teacher Peach, like any energetic, start-up company, is continually refining and redefining our focus to ensure we are best serving those who will best benefit from our work—the kids!