In her 30-year career as a teacher and trainer, Gail Greenbaum discovered that the best way to help kids learn and achieve goals is to present information through clear concepts that they can relate to their daily lives. She also knew that in order to be more engaged in learning, young people needed encouragement to develop better eating, sleeping and exercise habits. The best way to do that, she felt, was for teachers to set the example. In addition, by drawing analogies of these habits from the stories, teachers could teach more compelling lessons.
Gail, who spent most of her profession teaching English at a very high performing school, put her ideas to the test when she spent her final year as a teacher in a low-performing New York City school. Pass rates improved dramatically. “I realized that I had the centerpiece of a training program that could benefit all types of schools, and help re-ignite teachers’ passion by showing them the power of improving their own healthy habits,” Gail says. “Since all of my experience was as a teacher, however, and I knew nothing about marketing or how to create a viable business, I knew I needed help.”
Schools that are using Gail’s training are getting some equally incredible results. One saw its students’ math scores increase by 31 percent. The school is now applying T.E.AM. to its English classes.
Gail says that the experience of working with SCORE itself is a valuable lesson for entrepreneurs of any age. “The outer world is changing so rapidly that young people don’t always realize the value of experience since many basic elements of human nature never change,” she says. “It’s wonderful to have a program like SCORE that honors experienced people.”
At a friend’s recommendation, Gail contacted New York City SCORE and outlined her training program idea to a volunteer mentor. The mentor immediately realized that Gail’s then-business partner was actually a liability. He recommended an attorney for her to consult. “He left a lasting legacy,” Gail says. ”The lawyer he recommended has become an invaluable advisor.”
Gail has similar praise for her current SCORE mentor, Elliott Merberg. “He’s simply terrific,” Gail says, noting that one of the first things Merberg recommended was renaming her program “T.E.AM.” for Transforming Education in AMerica. “This defined exactly what I wanted to do,” she says. “That clarity made me even more motivated to make this idea work.”
Elliott also worked with Gail as she developed a sales presentation for schools. He accompanied her to the first appointment, and offered some follow-up ideas for improvement. “Within a couple of days, I had sold the program to three schools, which was exactly what I felt I could handle starting out,” Gail says. “The effectiveness of Elliott’s advice and support was incredible.”
Elliott is now helping Gail think about how to expand T.E.AM. from a one-woman effort into a successful business. Among the issues they’re discussing are investing in a dedicated marketer and creating a structure to hire and compensate a team of trainers who can bring the program’s benefits to many schools.
“Elliott is always expanding my awareness, and making me think about the next step,” Gail says. “I’m very appreciative to him and SCORE for helping me learn how to make this a viable and sustainable business.”