Created by former school teacher Paul Edelman as a simple way to get more educational resources for his students, Teachers Pay Teachers quickly built a dedicated user base in the mid-aughts when it was founded. The company was acquired within a year of launch by education giant, Scholastic — only to be repurchased by Edelman in the middle of the financial crisis to return it to its former mission: make education better and more accessible.
Since then, Teachers Pay Teachers has grown remarkably and, last year, around 70 percent of all U.S. educators utilized the service. We caught up with some of the people behind the education company that’s changing classrooms around the country.
WHAT THEY DO: Teachers Pay Teachers is the go-to place for educators to find the resources, knowledge and inspiration they need to teach at their best. They offer more than 3 million free and paid resources, created by educators who understand what works in the classroom.
WHERE THEY DO IT: NYC, right next to Union Square.
UNIQUE PERKS: In addition to all the usual perks, employees enjoy a two-day camping retreat every year. The company’s offices also host the popular ‘Tech Talks for Technical Women’ series every quarter.
THE FOUNDING STORY: "When I was a newbie teacher in the early 2000s, there was very little teaching content on the internet that was good," Teachers Pay Teachers Founder Paul Edelman told Built In NYC. "So like most teachers, I had little choice but to create my own resources — materials that eventually my colleagues started using in their own classrooms."
Anthony Fowler, Recruiter
Anthony leads recruiting for the business, product and design teams — if you’re looking for a job, he’s the guy you want to talk to.
BEYOND WORK: Anthony is a museum aficionado — and when he’s not in the office, he’s probably at The Met.
You come from an education background, so what made you want to make the switch to tech?
This is a question I get a lot and one that I thought quite a bit about before making my transition. I came to Teachers Pay Teachers because I knew it was driving toward a mission that I believed in, in a space I was highly passionate about, and that recruiting was a field where I could make a lasting impact.
To me, an ideal candidate is someone who can show they’re really committed and excited about the work they’re doing.”
What can people in tech learn from the education world?
There’s so much to learn from the education world and everyone on Team TpT is constantly learning from educators. We have an internal team here that keeps us informed about everything that’s happening in the education world and how that relates to the work we’re doing. Sometimes we take company-wide visits to schools and we hold a speaker’s series with principals and teachers around the country. The opportunities for learning are everywhere here.
As a recruiter, you're the frontman for interviewing prospective TpT employees. What does your ideal candidate bring to the table?
To me, an ideal candidate is someone who can show they’re really committed and excited about the work they’re doing. Whether it’s through anecdotes or special projects, I like to hear about what makes them excited about their line of work. Additionally, I like candidates who are empathetic but also really comfortable speaking with candor and creating open dialogues with teammates and colleagues.
Jacqueline Kouri, Software Engineer
Jacqueline builds products, which includes coding efficient solutions, writing tests and shipping and maintaining various products.
BEYOND WORK: Fitting with her past as a Junior Olympic gymnast, Jacqueline is passionate about fitness and is currently training to become a group fitness instructor. Every day at 2:50 p.m. she runs a quick, office-wide workout program called ‘getJacqued.’
What was it like starting out as an intern at TpT? What's your internal growth been like since?
As an intern, I was treated almost identically to a full-time engineer. I was fully integrated into a team, attending all the meetings and working on projects that aligned with the team’s mission. The other engineers on the team were incredible mentors. They were patient and generous with their time, answering my questions, teaching me best practices and challenging me to grow.
It was such a great experience that I came back full time! Internal growth is present throughout the company — people work with their manager in weekly one-on-ones to establish their career goals and define a path to get there. My manager is my biggest cheerleader, and he champions my success.
When I’m wearing my company shirt in public, I often get stopped by teachers who are incredibly enthusiastic about Teachers Pay Teachers.”
Have you had the opportunity to continue improving your skills since coming on full time?
I am always learning — there’s never a day I walk home without having learned something new. As a company, we move pretty fast, so you don’t really have time to get bored. Just when things are starting to feel comfortable, there are new technologies, new responsibilities and new projects to start thinking about. I am constantly evolving and growing my skills.
Teachers Pay Teachers as a company cares deeply about its employees as individuals. We’re encouraged to bring our full selves to work. I’ve felt so supported in my career goals as well as my professional and personal development.
Do you feel like your work makes a difference outside of the office?
I know the enormous impact that Teacher Pay Teachers has on teachers. When I’m wearing my company shirt in public, I often get stopped by teachers who are incredibly enthusiastic about Teachers Pay Teachers. Just the other day, a teacher beelined over to me in the grocery store when she saw my t-shirt and started gushing about the company and asked where she could get a t-shirt. It is amazing to work for a company that has such an enthusiastic user base.
Bruce Hogan, Director of Growth and Integrated Marketing
Bruce is focused on growing the business through improvements in customer experience. It’s his job to understand the customer and figure out how to better support them as educators.
BEYOND WORK: When he’s not in the office, you might find Bruce on the golf course teeing it up.
You’ve been here longer than most people. What has it been like to be a part of the company during a period of so much change and growth?
It has been an amazing experience to be with Teachers Pay Teachers for the past four and a half years. I feel lucky to have been along for the ride. I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished and have never been more excited about our future. While we’ve grown a lot, we’ve also maintained our strong culture and relentless focus on empowering educators. So, in some important ways, the company still feels very much the same.
How has the company culture changed since you arrived?
Since I joined in 2014, a lot has changed — the team has grown, we’ve iterated our systems and processes, and we’ve moved offices twice. Despite that change, I’m impressed with how well we’ve maintained the most important elements of our culture.
I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished and have never been more excited about our future.”
How have you grown along with the company?
Teachers Pay Teachers has been a really rewarding professional experience for me personally. In 2014, my very first project was figuring out how our email channel should operate. Fast forward to today – we have a full marketing team with deeper customer understanding making a bigger impact than ever.
Where do you see Teachers Pay Teachers going in the next five years?
Over 5 million teachers use the platform each year and, in the past year, 70 percent of all U.S. educators downloaded a resource from us. In 2018, we launched TpT for Schools as a new way for administrators and teachers to work together to bring Teachers Pay Teachers to entire schools. Going forward, increasing the school-wide adoption of TpT and introducing new formats of content are big opportunities.