About Us

Fiji apple with green leaf

About I Love Teachers

Our Mission

It is our purpose to introduce teachers, their families, and friends to businesses in their communities that take the lead in showing honor, respect, and appreciation for what they do. It’s a cumulative effort to say thank you.

Ho We Do It

We introduce teachers to participating local businesses that want to express their admiration and appreciation by way of donated or discounted everyday services or products. This allows business in your community to put their words into action and say to their teachers – “Thank you for all you’ve done – We owe you so much.”

Tyler

About Tyler Anderson

Affectionate husband, protective father, full-time minister, LASD Chaplain, business owner of No Bugs, Pro Treat, and I Love Teachers, a proud son to an awesome father who left him many lessons in life to live up to, who loves taking care of his mom. Passionate about helping others and has now turned his attention to Teachers. Believes that giving should be a direct process and not through organizations. That true happiness is achieved when something is given without the expectation of something returned. That a “thank you” and a “please” still mean something. That taking care of our children, who are our future, starts by respecting our elders, educators, and neighbors.

I Love Teachers - The Story

I never set out to start a business dedicated to rewarding teachers…My life was already plenty busy. I was a full-time minister, business owner, husband, father, and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Chaplain. I hadn’t given much thought to the plight of teachers, nor to the massive impact the teachers of my youth had had on me.

No, “I Love Teachers” didn’t start because of me. “I Love Teachers” all started because of a teacher. A teacher I met totally by accident who opened my eyes to all of the heartaches and disadvantages teachers are facing today…

THE VALUE OF A TEACHER

I met that teacher back in February 2017. I was sitting at the airport waiting for my flight to Freeport when I noticed a woman sniffling nearby, unsuccessfully attempting to hold back tears. I couldn’t help but want to help, so I began to talk to her to see if there was anything I could do. Her emotions and anxieties all came flooding out. In a quivering voice, she said that she was going to visit a family member who was very sick, but that she could barely afford the plane ticket she just paid for. Not only that, but also she really couldn’t afford to take time off work, and she was terrified that she might even lose her job because of having this family emergency…

She was in some serious financial trouble…I wondered what kind of a job she had that made all of this so financially difficult, so I asked her what she did for work. Her answer was she was a teacher…Frankly, I was stunned and did not know what to say.  My first thought was, why is it that teachers have it so hard financially? I sat there contemplating the average teachers plight, and this feeling of both compassion mixed with some outrage started to overcome me.

Then I thought about that one teacher who made a huge difference in my life, my 6th grade teacher, Mr. Pace. You see, up until the 6th grade, I looked at school as my own personal playground where it was about making friends, making them laugh, talking more than listening, and getting by with the least amount of effort possible. I was lazy, always looked for a way to beat the system, and usually got my way. Some teachers tried to break me of my bad habits, but none of them were successful…but when my family moved to a “nicer” part of town when I was in the 6th grade, things were different. Mr. Pace was my new 6th grade teacher. And he wasn’t going to let me have my way anymore.

Homework assignments.  He did not take “no” or “I can’t do it” for an answer. He wouldn’t let me make excuses for not studying. And when I tried to outsmart him, he would outsmart me! I could not get way with anything! And he held me accountable for everything. He gave me the hard cold facts that I was going to have to work harder than any other student if I was going to graduate the 6th grade. He gave me the hardest time of any teacher I ever had…

After battling Mr. Pace in what felt like an actual personal war, I finally gave in. I realized that it would be easier to just do the darn homework than to fight this new, more-determined-than-I teacher!

So, I studied. Mr. Pace kept reminding me that I was way behind, and that I had to catch up. So I studied harder. I did my best to catch up, but to the principal and other school staff, it wasn’t good enough. I wasn’t good enough. They were going to hold me back anyway, despite my new-found determination to do well. All my extra effort was for nothing! But who stood up for me?  Mr. Pace…He fought for me to not be held back, and he won, we won. We both won. I am sure that if it weren’t for the lessons learned from Mr. Pace, and so many others that went out of their way to help, I wouldn’t have founded three successful businesses by now. He taught me the value of working hard and never giving up—both indispensable qualities for an entrepreneur like myself.

Sitting there in my airport seat, I suddenly realized that I was lost in memory of Mr. Pace and that my new teacher friend was waiting for me to respond. To break the silence, I thanked her for what she does and mentioned I had a teacher who really helped me and who made a huge difference in my life…

MOVED TO ACTION

Just then, the gate attendant made the overhead announcement for pre-boarding for those special people who could pre-board. “Anyone who is military, older ones, those with kids, or with special needs may board now” she boomed over the speaker system to all of us waiting. Right then I asked myself, why aren’t teachers like this teacher I just met given special privileges too? Why military but not teachers? It just didn’t seem fair to me. 

Moved to action, I briskly went up to the gate attendant and asked if she could make an announcement over the PA system again, but this time to include teachers. I told her there was a teacher in the crowd who was going through some hard times and I thought it would be great to help lift her spirits if this announcement could be made inviting all teachers to pre-board the plane too. The gate attendant quickly told me this is only for older ones, those with kids, or special needs, or the military and not teachers. Not quite yet giving up, I told her that it was too bad we can’t include teachers because if it wasn’t for the teachers, we would not have the military or even the captains flying the plane!

This gate attendant didn’t really like my line of logic and promptly told me to take my seat. She made clear in her tone she did not like me asking this, nor my suggestion to include teachers. Really? How hard would it have been for her to include teachers? And who in the crowd would have objected? Who doesn’t love teachers? Standing there talking to the gate attendant, I realized that I was fighting a losing battle. Then she told me to take my seat again, so I did.

I stopped pushing the point, but as I walked back to my seat across from my new teacher friend, I truly internalized just how important teachers are to society. My appreciation for them welled up inside of me like a small inferno, as I thought about their value, and how greatly our society undervalues them.

Something inside me was ignited – a fire in my heart and belly to do something to correct this wrong. Meeting that struggling, distraught teacher in the airport that day set me on a course to right this wrong, to give back to teachers in a big way, and to change societies view of teachers.

But at this point, I still didn’t know what I could do really…

BULLIED AND BELITTLED

One month later, my memory of that fateful day in the airport had dimmed a little. I was lying in bed, scrolling through Facebook posts by those almost-strangers we call friends, when I came across a video—a video of an LA student aggressively bullying his teacher who was a frail older man who had clearly lost control of his class. The student was threatening to punch his teacher if he didn’t give him his confiscated phone back. The teacher was backing away, evidently very frightened. Meanwhile, the rest of the class was recording the scene on their phones while laughing at the teacher!

I was horrified and deeply saddened by what I saw. Once again, I came face-to-face with a teacher who was totally unappreciated and even abused.

Around that same time, there was a tragic school shooting in Parkland, Florida. I overheard a lot of talk on the news of putting guns in the hands of teachers to defend the students and shoot anyone who trespassed into the school. Again, I was shocked. I thought of the immense burden that would place on our already overwhelmed teachers—the trauma and responsibility of having to shoot someone, in Parkland’s case, a former student.

Imagine what the job description for teachers would look like!

“Teacher Wanted—30k-60k salary. You’ll be overworked and underpaid. School supplies will come out of your own pocket. Must carry a gun at all times, in a class full of children. In the event of a school shooting, we’ll expect you to shoot one of your current or former students!”

STRUGGLING TEACHERS EVERYWHERE

Teachers already have it bad enough. Wages have stagnated, so teachers now earn less on average than they did 30 years ago. Many have to work additional jobs to support their meager salary, and they’re still expected to pay for school supplies out of a shallow pocket. They are truly not fairly compensated for the work they do, and society does little to thank them.

According to a Time magazine article titled, “’I Work 3 Jobs And Donate Blood Plasma to Pay the Bills.’ This Is What It’s Like to Be a Teacher in America,” 52-year-old teacher Hope Brown sells her blood twice a week in order to make ends meet. And Hope is a well-educated teacher with a masters degree in Education!

According to this same article, “in 1994, public-school teachers in the U.S. earned 1.8% less per week than comparable workers, according to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), a left-leaning think tank. By last year, they made 18.7% less.”

So, teachers now make on average almost 20% less than comparable workers in the work-place, a growing downward trend…

Hope and my airport teacher friend are not the only struggling teachers of course. Meet teacher Rosa Jimenez who is quoted in the same article saying, “’My child and I share a bed in a small apartment, I spend $1,000 on supplies and I’ve been laid off three times due to budget cuts.’ I’m a teacher in America.”

Or, meet NaShonda Cooke who teaches at the Carroll Leadership in Technology Magnet Middle School, where she teaches in Raleigh, North Carolina…

“’I have 20 years of experience, but I can’t afford to fix my car, see a doctor for headaches or save for my child’s future.’ I’m a teacher in America.”

Those are just a few teachers. In another article by “The Guardian,” titled, “How I survive: American teachers and their second jobs – a photo essay,” it shows eight more struggling teachers and what they do to survive. They all work second jobs so that they can do what they love – teach…

Then there’s the article in “Education Week.”  The title is, “To Make Ends Meet, 1 in 5 Teachers Have Second Jobs.” The title says it all…

Despite all their financial struggles, teachers still work tirelessly to educate and raise our children.

The more educated I became about the plight of teachers everywhere, the more I wanted to help and the more I wished there was something I could do to alleviate their dreadful financial problems…

FREE COFFEE MAKES HISTORY

It wasn’t long before I found an opportunity to give a little back. The very next morning, I stopped at Starbucks on my way to my office to get my daily coffee. A line of four sheriff deputies were in front of me, and I was pleased to see how the barista interacted with them. She brightly smiled as she spoke with them and gave them a discount. As a sheriff chaplain, I see first-hand what they deal with every day and the rough environment in which they work – they certainly deserved the support that discount showed.

I ordered my usual coffee and paid full price – as I expected to, and as I believed I should. While waiting for my drink, my former high school history teacher (and my school’s girls’ basketball coach) “Coach” Herrick came in and got in line to get his coffee, too. I had interacted with Mr. Herrick a great deal over the years – he’s very well-known in the community and was always very excited to see his former students. I was pleased to see him and talked to him a bit as he waited to order. When he eventually did order his drink, I noticed that the barista did not give him a discount.

Feeling somewhat upset, I marched right up to the counter, interrupted the barista’s conversation with a customer and said to her, “Excuse me, I noticed you gave the deputies a discount for their order – which I fully support. Those men work hard to protect us and others. But this man is a teacher, and he’s someone who truly deserves a discount. If it wasn’t for our teachers, we wouldn’t have any deputies – or even your business executives who build and manage Starbucks, allowing you to have this job and receive the benefits you do. I’d really appreciate it if you could extend this man the same show of support you did to the deputies.”

The barista looked flustered and surprised, but seemed to agree with me. She handed the teacher his coffee and refused to accept his money…

Coach Herrick beamed at me with pride. The look on his face alone told me that I did the right thing. He thanked me and told me I didn’t need to do that.

But the way he said it, the way he looked at me – it marked a shift in our relationship. I went from former student to friend and supporter. I saw how standing up for him made him feel valued, appreciated, empowered, and clearly – a little shocked.

No one had ever done something like that for him before. I told him he was the one who really deserved gratitude. Teachers are usually not acknowledged and appreciated, and so they aren’t used to better treatment like the others…

We sat together and remembered the time he kicked me out of his class. He sent me to my school counselor because he wanted the school to place me in a more advanced class that would really challenge me. At the time, I just felt annoyed – his class was easier and involved way less homework! But throughout the year, I saw how his decision really helped me. I learned much more and developed better work habits. I sincerely thanked him for helping me out. As I left to go to work, I told Coach Herrick, “This coffee is on me – thanks for the extra homework!”

 

THE REAL SUPERHEROES

Helping Mr. Herrick felt so good. Even simply getting a special discount made him feel respected and revered. I thought back to the teacher in the airport and to that teacher who was bullied in the video. How is it that teachers go so unappreciated? How could kids make them feel that way – and how could their parents allow them to treat them so poorly?

Truly, I could not figure out why our society doesn’t show more honor and respect to our educators. They do so much, especially in our day and age. Children often spend more time at school than at home for the first eighteen years of their life – it’s their teachers who work tirelessly to educate them, to show them love and even to raise them.

As I went home from work that day, I thought back to my days as a fireman. Kids would come on field trips to tour the station, and we were like heroes to them. They looked up to us and dreamed of doing what we did. Some of them would even dress up as us for Halloween. It made me feel like what I was doing really made a difference, and that people were grateful for what I’d chosen to do with my life.

So many professions are put up on a pedestal and looked up to by adults and children alike: firemen, doctors, nurses, policemen, businessmen, actors, athletes, inventors. Each of those professions has one thing in common – they all have teachers who helped them get to where they are. Teachers are the silent, unsung heroes behind the celebrated heroes.

Despite being overworked, underpaid, disrespected, and largely unsupported, teachers who raise our kids and teach tomorrow’s leaders tirelessly return to their classrooms day after day to do it anyway…

Why?   Because they love their students and believe that what they do makes a difference…and it does.

Teachers are the real-life superheroes. They deserve even more recognition than all of those other people we and our youth look up to. The question I wrestled with was: How do we get our society to start treating teachers like the way they deserve?

The answer came to me by accident. I realized that it starts with people like you and me – ordinary private citizens, the parents of tomorrow’s adults.

THE START OF SOMETHING BIG

By the time I arrived at my office the following morning, I had an idea. I wanted to achieve the same result with all the teachers in my hometown of Santa Clarita that I had seen with my high school teacher at Starbucks. That was definitely a bit of a loftier goal, with six school districts, sixty schools and hundreds of teachers in the valley.

I started with the business that I had the most control over: my local pest-control business, “No Bugs.” I put together a simple ad and posted it on Facebook and Instagram that same day. It said:

“No Bugs Loves Teachers. Free Pest Control to all of our teachers for the summer. No initial setup fee, no monthly cost.”

My only intent was to offer the teachers in Santa Clarita Valley a service they could benefit from if needed – to be bug-free during the summer, when the most bugs bug us!

I didn’t expect the response we got. A few teachers started calling the office and signing up almost immediately, which of course we had anticipated and hoped for. But family and friends of teachers started calling the office and signing up as well. Even though they weren’t teachers themselves, they wanted to support a business that showed support for teachers. Suddenly, we had much more regular business than normal…

The word started getting out more and more from there. A local magazine picked up the story and started running an ad to bring even more attention to our offer. After that, teachers were calling constantly from all over the city asking if the offer was real. One teacher who saw the ad while we were at a home and garden expo even started crying out of gratitude for our show of support. It sounded too good to be true! It was the best feeling to be able to tell her and so many others that it was true and to personally get to thank them for the work they do.

It then occurred to me that I ought to inform our current customers about what we were doing and our reasoning behind it. I was concerned about their feelings – I wondered whether they’d be upset that we were offering a free service to others, the same service they pay hard-earned money for. We sent out an email thanking them for their loyalty and telling them about the promotion. It went on to say, “YOU – our valued customers – also deserve a thank you for helping our local teachers. Without you hiring and trusting No Bugs over the years, we wouldn’t be in a position to help the way we’re helping.”

 

The following week, our phones rang off the hook and my inbox was constantly flooded. Our customers were so impressed and happy to be included that they were reaching out to thank us! They started referring other people to us, resulting in us getting even more business than we’d ever had before. Some people who called to sign up said they didn’t even have any bugs—they just wanted to support a business that gave back to teachers!

My heart was so full. I realized that so many people felt exactly what I had been feeling over the last few months – a sense of gratitude and indebtedness to the incredible educators who had changed their lives and their children’s lives. So many individuals shared stories with me of that one special teacher who put them on the right path and helped them when they needed it most. The public was ready and willing to show their support for teachers. Many just didn’t know how.

THE WIN/WIN/WIN IDEA GETS BIGGER

The success we saw in the community got me thinking: What if all of the businesses in Santa Clarita offered discounts to teachers? Could it change how we all view teachers and their contribution to the community? After seeing the public’s reaction to the No Bugs promotion, I thought it might.

I wanted businesses to form a sort of force field around our city’s teachers – a “protective hedge,” as the bible book of Job put it. Offering them special benefits and discounts would help teachers feel as valued and as beloved as they are. It would shine a new light on them.

But in that, I saw an opportunity not only to reward teachers, but also to help small businesses as well. All good, small businesses need support too. They need a constant, steady flow of customers and clients. Most small businesses struggle in getting and retaining customers – it’s a constant problem…

But when a business offers discounts and/or free services to teachers, they get instant support from the community, and subsequently, more business…

It’s a win/win/win for everyone! Teachers win, businesses win, and the community wins…

And then I started to think of the “accidental benefits” to businesses. Here is the list that I came up with:

  • An increased business profit by decreasing customer acquisition cost.
  • Referrals from family,  friends and the public because you’re a forerunner in directly supporting our teachers.
  • An increase in sales form referrals and repeat customers. Teachers that truly benefit from your gratitude will share their experience to friends, family and other teachers.
  • An increase in business growth through community involvement. When consumers hear about the support given to their educators, they’ll be more driven to support your business.
  • An Increase in company moral. Saying “Thank You” to those who helped you get where you are today transcends humility and appreciation: two key qualities to instill in your employees
  • And most of all – The Success of Giving Back – it’s a great feeling when you see the eyes of appreciation fill with tears of thanks.

I knew that offering benefits for teachers would bring along a newfound support and enthusiasm from like-minded individuals in the community. Furthermore, I knew from recent experience and my bible studies how much joy there is in giving. I wanted other Santa Clarita businesses to experience the same joy I felt when I offered a free service to teachers.

There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving! When a sandwich shop offers teachers a free sandwich, when an auto shop gives free oil changes to teachers, or when a restaurant allows teachers to go first, they too get to experience the happiness of giving back.

They get to give back to the same teachers who built them into what they are today, and in return, they get the joy of giving and the support of like-minded people.

That show of goodness and support is sure to have a result in the surrounding community as well. Say a local restaurant starts treating teachers like the heroes that they are by saying, “No waiting for you! If you’re a teacher, you get the next table. Thanks for all the hard work you do.” That sort of reverence and respect would undoubtedly rub off on our youth. Kids would start looking up to teachers, longing to be one someday—just like they now think of firemen, doctors, and the like. One child at a time, one business at a time, we could change the culture for our educators.

BUILDING A PLATFORM

I had the idea, and I was excited to recruit local businesses to help our teachers out. But I realized that teachers would then need an online platform that compiled all the businesses that offered discounts and free services to them.

What I envisioned was a mix of services like Craigslist and Yelp. Craigslist is a simple, easy-to-use classified ad website good for disseminating information. Yelp allows users to join the conversation as well, offering their personal experiences and reviews – though their secret algorithms, refusal to delete dishonest reviews and paid advertising have always left an ugly taste in my mouth. Still, it works great as a modern-day phonebook.

Then I thought, if I could create something as straightforward as Craigslist and combine it with the good, experience-focused side of Yelp to help people find businesses that want to show appreciation and support for teachers, that would really be something special. I pictured the site listing businesses first by category, then by discount.

I took my idea to Small Dog, a local marketing company that had created a site for my other business. I liked their work and they seemed to be in touch with business needs. As I told them about my experiences with teachers and the emotional impact No Bugs’ promotion had had on so many, they were mesmerized. They couldn’t believe the good that simple promotion had accomplished, and agreed that teachers deserve much more than they get.

I explained to them exactly what I envisioned for the site. Along with the review platform, I wanted commercials and testimonials of businesses expressing their gratitude for teachers and the offer they were willing to give them. I wanted there to be clear pages about how the relationship mutually benefits both teachers and businesses. In addition, I wanted it to show how teachers get support from their community and special offers from local businesses, while businesses get the joy of giving back, referrals from teachers, and public support.

I asked them if they would build my site for me. Small Dog said they’d love to help out, and told me a site like this would usually cost anywhere from $30,000 to $70,000. Now, I didn’t have that kind of money, but I did have a whole lot of contagious passion and enthusiasm for the project. I told them that if they’d be willing to donate some of their resources, I would pay direct expenses and labor and we’d be able to both see where this great idea led us.

They liked the idea, thought it over, and two days later they agreed to help me build the site. So I bought the domain name I Love Teachers – a simple name that defined our organization’s purpose perfectly – and the site was born…

Small Dog had initially told me that the site would take around four months to build, but I knew teachers just didn’t have that kind of time. Teachers across the nation were going on strike. Legislators were still pushing to arm teachers in schools. Big-name news media like Time and the New York Times were reporting on teachers all over the country not getting the support they needed. So, I asked the team if we could have the site done in two months. They stared back at me in silence, just long enough to make me feel uncomfortable, and finally said, “Well then, we’d better get started!”

We met every week. Nine weeks later and just over two months after seeing my previous high school teacher at Starbucks, we had the site up and running. It was everything I had imagined and more.

GETTING THE WORD OUT

Once the site was underway, all I had left to do was spread the word about I Love Teachers. I reached out to numerous local businesses to help them see why offering discounts to the city’s valued teachers was such a good idea.

To start, I called a local auto shop that maintains my trucks for my pest control business. I met with the owner and started to tell him why I’m trying to help teachers. I didn’t even get halfway through my story before he was moved to tears and asked me how he could help, too. He told me about a teacher that had tirelessly, selflessly helped his son with special needs, and how he’d never be able to repay her for the good she did as long as he lived.

I suggested that he offer a special discount to teachers. I wanted to see if what happened with No Bugs was an isolated event. He agreed to offer a free oil change and tire rotation to all teachers, and I agreed to help advertise it on our new I Love Teachers Facebook page.

The ad went viral. In only a matter of days, it got nearly 20,000 views and a flood of referrals. Not only were teachers getting free oil changes and tire rotations, but also regular work for this auto shop greatly increased too – a total win/win…

I felt encouraged and excited. So many people wanted to show their support for teachers! I thought I’d try again.

I visited the owner of a locally-owned Pita Pit franchise and related my experience. He was moved to offer free lunch to teachers. Again, in just days the response was overwhelming. Teachers were rewarded and honored. Regular business for Pita Pit increased. Another win/win!

That’s when I knew that my experience at No Bugs wasn’t unique. Both other businesses experienced the same results as I did – overwhelming public support, and the glowing pride of giving back to teachers… 

I started getting the word out to many other local businesses via social media, newspaper ads, videos, and phone calls. I wasn’t content with the success we’d seen; I wanted to completely rearrange our culture until teachers everywhere enjoyed a new level of public respect and recognition.

TAKING IT NATIONWIDE

We saw a lot of success in the Santa Clarita Valley. More and more local businesses started pairing up with I Love Teachers to reward teachers for all their hard work. Our Facebook page was getting some hits, people in my community were familiar with our mission, but I started to think bigger.

Around Mother’s day, I decided to promote our Facebook page so teachers all across the nation would see it. I budgeted $1,000 for Facebook advertising for the month and thought I’d just sit back and see what would happen.

Within minutes, my phone started getting alerts—people and teachers from all over the country were liking the ad and the page. I started getting all sorts of messages asking for more information as well. My daughter looked at me in disbelief and said, “Dad, what’s up with your phone? Turn off your alerts!”

I went to my account and realized I had made a huge mistake. I didn’t budget $1000 for the month, I had budgeted $1000 per day for the whole month! Facebook was spending my ad money to make our page viral all over the country. Within minutes, our page had over 1000 new likes! I turned off the ad once I noticed my error, but that experience told me something. I Love Teachers wasn’t just something special for Santa Clarita – people from all over the country liked what we were doing and wanted to learn more. I learned that all the idea needed was a little push to really take off. But I knew I had to be careful regarding growth – the traction we got that day was more than I was prepared for!

A teacher from Arizona reached out to me after seeing the Facebook ad. She was calling representing Red for Ed, a group of 50,000 Arizona teachers. I had heard about them on the news – they went on strike and didn’t show up to work for four days in an attempt to get better wages.

I learned from her that while teachers all over the nation are suffering, in Arizona they have it especially bad. Arizona ranks dead last nationwide in elementary school teacher pay, with an annual average salary of just $42,474. That’s more than $13,000 less than the national average. The lack of funding for public school teachers in the state has caused a crisis-level teacher shortage, with more teachers leaving the profession than entering it every year. My heart broke for them…

The Arizona teacher also asked me a few questions about I Love Teachers and our mission. She was grateful for what we were doing, and wanted to help spread the word about us. After our brief conversation, she promoted and forwarded our Facebook page to her friends and followers…

Yet again, my phone alerts started going crazy, and our page started getting a lot of likes from Arizona teachers. I kept in touch with the teacher who had called me and decided to fly to Arizona to meet her and the other teachers who were touched by our mission.

The day before my flight, the sandwich shop owner I had previously spoken to asked me to meet an associate of his – the Pita Pit franchise manager. We met the day I arrived in Arizona. I told him all about I Love Teachers and how it came about. He was in awe of the good I Love Teachers has already been able to accomplish. His fiancée had just bought a Pita Pit franchise just outside of Phoenix, and he wanted to help us get her store on board and as many others as he could as well. His fiancée, Jennifer, was once a teacher. She absolutely loved the work, but had to leave the job because it didn’t pay the bills.

When I met Jennifer, we hit it off right away. She asked how I Love Teachers started, and she got the long version (the one you’re reading!). I showed her our site, and she asked if she could help. She loved our message and goal, but had noticed many distracting errors on our site. She offered to correct those errors for us and did so within the day.

FAIR REPORT CARDS FOR BUSINESSES

As generous as that was, her edits weren’t the biggest contribution Jennifer ended up making to I Love Teachers. By just being herself and doing what every true teacher does, she added a whole new level to our site and what it can offer teachers and businesses.

We didn’t have a whole lot of content for Jennifer to edit, but she gave it all a professional touch. She emailed the word document to me with all of the corrections marked in red—classic teacher move, right? At the top was a grade: C-!

It was a cute joke, but also, reality. I loved it. Jennifer graded my work on a fair scale – the number of words and the number of corrections made produced an overall grade. I saw in that the answer to a huge problem facing all businesses across America…

What if every teacher who visited our site and accepted an offer could give the business a calculated letter grade in exchange for their generosity? It’s something teachers are great at – they’re professional graders!

Each report card would be based on customer service, delivering a fair overall letter grade based on the business’s strengths and weaknesses. It would be a way to provide clear, professional feedback to businesses on a positive basis. And grades wouldn’t have to be permanent – like in school, businesses could work to get their grades up if their performance was shown to be subpar.

In contrast to Yelp’s unclear, unchecked, and permanent reviewing process, we now had a superior system that would be fully transparent, professional, and constructive.

With Jennifer’s help, I now had a few new tasks: to get every business in America to jump on board, place them into one of sixteen business categories on our site, assign a report card to each business for the teachers to grade, and assemble the results of each report card in a transparent way to produce a clear overall grade. I needed Small Dog’s help once again.

I LOVE TEACHERS—MOVING FORWARD

 

Ten days later, I met with Small Dog’s top dog – the decision maker, the one I really had to convince. I told her the story of I Love Teachers from the beginning, along with everything that had happened in Arizona just over a week ago.

I wonder what she thought of me. Small Dog had just barely launched my site, the one they partially donated and rushed to complete. And here I was, adding a level of complexity that would likely require a whole team of programmers, script writers, and designers—along with a totally revamped platform that could grow as businesses and teachers were added. Plus, I didn’t just want the site to include K-12 teachers anymore. What about counselors, principals, administrators, private school teachers, college professors? All of them shape our children and help form the future leaders of tomorrow. The site I now envisioned had to be big and extraordinary, with plenty of room to grow as the movement took off.

Miraculously, Small Dog’s executive was totally on board. She saw what I saw, and what I’ve made my goal to help everyone see – that teachers are worth helping and supporting. Everyone deserves to be able to show their gratitude for the teachers who made them who they are today. Every business deserves the joy of giving back, and the added benefit of new business and fair feedback. And every teacher deserves the honor and respect of society.

Adding the Report Card element to the site really strengthened the symbiotic relationship between business owners and teachers. When more teachers frequent a business, that business has more information to measure and monitor their business. In order to get more teachers to use their business, that business needs to offer something special to get them in the door. Better offers lead to more report cards, which leads to stronger grades, which leads to more value added to all consumers.

I Love Teachers puts teachers in a position of respect, where their opinion and experience genuinely matter and affect the public. It rewards them and lifts them up to where they belong. We as a society owe so much to teachers – now, we can both show appreciation for them and give them a chance to provide even more value to the public by using their grading skills.

Going forward, I Love Teachers plans to offer sweepstakes giving teachers the chance to win vacations and other incredible prizes donated by businesses. I Love Teachers will also offer scholarship opportunities to current students who wish to become teachers, as well as financial support for teachers in need and their families.

From humble beginnings, I Love Teachers is now weeks away from going nationwide with over 1.38 million national offers and benefits to teachers. We are constantly working to improve the lives of teachers everywhere and we are committed to growing our reach. We and businesses everywhere, big and small, are doing our part to show teachers nationwide how much we love them.