Today, we’re launching our new initiative in support of public school teachers: The More You Nugget. Education has always played an important role at Nugget, from bringing together our co-founders to reminding us of why we do what we do. In fact, our original product testers were co-founder Hannah’s 3rd and 4th grade students, who helped us conceptualize what the intersection of toy and furniture could look like!
While our team has graduated from school, we haven’t forgotten our roots. Classrooms hold a special place in our hearts, and we will always love to support teachers. Since the company’s earliest days, Nugget has prioritized speaking engagements in classrooms, field trips to the Nugget office to learn about entrepreneurship, placing Nuggets in classrooms for back-to-school initiatives, and collaborating with nonprofits to raise funds for schools and educational centers. We’re thrilled to launch The More You Nugget to create the most impact with the kids and schools who most need it.
In honor of this exciting launch, Content Manager Allie took a stroll down memory lane with our Chief Creative Officer, Hannah, who was a play-oriented classroom teacher before she joined her college pals Ryan (CMO) and David (CEO) as their third co-founder, turning Nugget into the imaginative play brand you know and love today.
Hannah, what drew you to education?
I come from a long line of public school and early-childhood educators in my family. My grandfather started as a PE teacher and then moved to school leadership in Miami-Dade; I never got a chance to meet him but I remember always feeling inspired by the initiatives he created to keep kids engaged. It seemed like you could make a really big impact through public education.
My mom was naturally great with kids. She was the first in her family to go to college, and I remember her working at daycares while studying early childhood education in school, all with me and my brother on her hip. She delivered her lessons with so much energy and worked her way up from teacher’s assistant to classroom teacher to eventually the head of school! She even went to Columbia’s Teacher College and became an adjunct professor in classroom instruction.
As I got older, I enjoyed learning about Child Psychology in college, and had a job opportunity through a summer program to spend more time with kids. Student U gave me a crash course in educational inequity; through their program, I was equipped with the language around historical systemic racism and institutional barriers that create such drastic disparities in education. I saw an opportunity to make an impact.
My first teaching position out of college was down in Miami in the same under-resourced neighborhood my grandfather worked 70 years before!
What was your favorite part of teaching?
I was a very creative, silly, can’t-sit-still kind of kid, and in most of the classrooms I was in, playful energy was only for recess...until I had one fifth grade teacher (Ms. Woolford!) who brought music and jokes and laughter to her lessons — just like my mom did. Finally, I could learn and play! Applying that playful approach to the curriculum was a really exciting challenge for my brain every day. Honestly, my classroom would get in trouble because our lessons involved singing and dancing and making noise… we just had so much fun with each other.
What did you learn from your students?
My students were incredibly generous and sweet to each other. My kids would share everything. If someone was hungry, they’d give away their snacks. If someone forgot money on a field trip, they’d give away their money. I was always inspired by their tenderness towards one another. I love that about ages 8 to 10, that’s why I always tell families to cherish those ages! Now, my former students are in high school. I got to visit them during a trip to Miami and they are so grown up!
How did you use the Nugget in your classroom?
I did a lot of positive reinforcement and games or competitions in order to keep kids engaged. I would have these elaborate ways to get points in the classroom that could translate to fun things, like watching a movie and hanging out on the Nugget, or doing indoor recess and everyone could play on the Nugget that day. The many uses of the Nugget couch became the best way I could creatively reward kids for great behavior!
In addition, I started offering flexible seating in my classroom which gives students a little more daily choice and comfort. It was great that one Nugget could split apart into so many pieces that they could share — I’d have two kids on a cushion piece, two on a base, and a kid on each triangle pillow. I thought, this weird futon thing my friends made for dorm rooms is actually genius... for kids!
What do you wish people knew about the teaching profession? How can we better support teachers?
I wish people knew that teachers have some of the widest ranging skill sets of any profession. They have to be the entertainer, the caregiver, the therapist, the disciplinarian — plus make a thousand tough decisions every day, keep a smile on their face, and get 25-30 different personalities with varying levels of support systems at home all to the next grade.
Outside of demanding that educators are paid more? Everyone that knows a teacher can support them by:
- Offering them more grace (parents especially)
- Helping them with their classroom project wishlist
- Encouraging their boundaries as it relates to work/life balance. Teachers have families and personal lives, too!
If we want kids to benefit from healthy, creative, playful classrooms, they need a healthy, creative, and playful teacher! Let’s all pitch in to support the educators in our lives so they can make an even bigger impact.
Thank you, Hannah, for sharing your experience with us. We are so excited to launch The More You Nugget, a program supporting public school K-5 teachers. Know of an awesome teacher who would love a Nugget for their classroom? Nominate them here!