Stranger 43, Day 43 – Meet Terry, the “Entrepreneurial Teacher of Teachers”

Stranger 43, Day 43 - Meet Terry

Ah, yes, today’s Stranger is yet another oh-so familiar face I see all the time, but know nothing about her. In fact, we courteously smile at one another and wave, but that’s it. It really is a strange thing that we should see someone so often, and yet, say… nothing for so long. How great it was, then, to finally meet today’s Stranger as she waited in line at Starbucks. As they say, “better late than never”.

Meet Terry, 32

Who are you?

“I’m originally from New Jersey. I moved here 10 years ago, and I teach 5th grade.”

Terry tells me how she works best with “direct, exact questions”.

“I’m just a teacher trying to find my way.”

What are your passions?

“I make teaching resources for other teachers, and I sell those online outside of school. That’s something I’m more passionate about right now.” She talks to me about how she’s “teaching the teachers”.

“… more than just education. It’s marketing. It’s advertising. It’s creation. I have fun with that. As hard as a teacher, the more you do, you don’t get any more for it, so it’s nice to have something else – the harder you work… You see results as a teacher, but you see it from students, but not from administration or the district. So this is something more like the harder you work, the more you get. It’s incentive-based.”

Why did you start this?

“It started because I need resources myself. There’s a site where teachers can sell their materials to other teachers. I started buying on it, and I was, ‘they’re just like me’, so I could do this, too. So I started selling.”

She tells me it’s going well. She also shares how she’s hoping to work on resource creation full-time at some point in the future.

She shares how she has a blog, too, but it’s “so hard to keep up with. It’s a lot. As much as I like writing, I’d rather speak in front of a camera than write.” She does do Facebook Live and the like and post on her blog.

Where do you want to take this?

“I would really love to do this full-time, and maybe volunteer in schools, or something like that. The bureaucracy of education brings me down. It just drains you, and you feel like you’re running in a hamster wheel everyday. You can never get ahead. You can never get caught up. So it’s just mentally draining and exhausting. I would love to do that… this full-time. Creating.”

What are a couple challenges you’re facing right now that’s keeping you up at night?

“Financial. Just trying to get to where that’s enough for me to live off of. Right now, it’s not. That’s the tough part. There’s realities of you have to have health insurance. So I’d have to have private insurance… just stability. So I need to keep my day job.”

When you think about going full-time…

“It’s terrifying.” She talks about all the bills of home ownership, bills, etc.

“I think I can do it, but I completely sacrifice my social life which is tough.”

She explains, “I’m the type that when I’m in a creative mode, I’m in it for a week, so I can’t do anything else. I have to work the second I wake up till I go to bed.”

As you’re doing this, who’s been your biggest supporter(s)?

“My mom. She’s definitely THE most supportive. Then, I’ve got some other people that sell on the website that are very collaborative people to work with and get ideas from and marketing tips… business ideas. Most of my family are really awesome about it.”

“Then, I have a coworker that I got to start selling on this, too. So, he and I are always going back and forth talking about business, which is awesome.”

Would you say that’s what gets you out of bed?

“Oh yeah. I love experimenting with Facebook ads. Instagram… social media advertising. Just seeing if it’s growing.

Was there anything part of this journey that you’ve been surprised about that you didn’t think about before?

“I didn’t think about the fact that… when I see people actually using the stuff I make in their classrooms. Like I had a kid who moved to my school from another school in the district. My coworker gave her this pre-assessment for math, and she was like, ‘I’ve already taken this,’ at her other school. That’s pretty cool that there are people around the country doing my stuff… which is fun.”

“You don’t really think about the fact that it’s actually happening somewhere else, you know? You sell stuff, and it’s fun and everything. But when you see a picture someone took and they post it on social media… my creation… that’s fun.”

Anything else you think is going to help you be successful?

“I think just taking a leap of faith, and possibly risking stability and security for the unknown.”

Why do you want to take that leap?

“Just to see if I can do it.”

“I also think being comfortable makes me… I don’t want to say lazy, but just not as hungry. Although, right now, I’m hungry to do all of it so I can try to take the risk.” She admits that she’s not sure it’ll happen, but I hope she does.

“I’ve been at my school for so long, so I’ve established my reputation, my routines, and just my location. So if I get rid of that, the chance that maybe I can go back is scary. Or I have to go back somewhere else, and maybe I won’t like it as much as where I am. It’s a little scary… frightening.”

Why are you where you are today? (Thanks to Mallory, Stranger 42)

“Well… I made a bunch of very rash decisions in my 20s that kind of change the course of my life,” she laughs.

“First, it was changing from advertising to education, and then it was randomly leaving to Atlanta.” She shared with me how she actually wanted to be in musical theatre, but at the suggestion of her father, she should take business (“normal degree”) – why she started in film and then into advertising. But when she moved into education and started teaching, she taught drama before now moving into 5th grade teaching.

It was some family who convinced her to move to Atlanta as a town to get away from New Jersey.

What would you like to ask tomorrow’s Stranger?

“I want to know what someone’s biggest obstacle that has kept them from reaching their goals.”

After the handshake.

Like I said to start, I had seen Terry a lot. She goes to Starbucks often as she continues to focus on her business beyond her “regular job”. So it was that much greater for me to meet her because I got to learn that she was an entrepreneur. After the handshake, we talked a little about what I’ve done in my startups and with my current role at the startup I work at. I would have never known if I continued to just smile and wave at her. It’s really been fascinating how I can connect with so many people for things like entrepreneurship, but indeed, so many other areas.

I hope Terry does take that leap to pursue her business full-time. It’s scary, for sure, but I also hope she finds the plunge invigorating like me. I don’t believe she’ll have to sacrifice her social life in the long-term. Instead, I hope she maintains stability in a couple areas as I wrote in a separate blog piece with Randy Zuckerberg and one with University of California Riverside’s 7 Dimensions of Wellness.

Meet Terry. No longer a Stranger.

 

 

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