Highland Park shop caters to educators
Randi Brill, owner of Teacher Peach!, organizes the store in Highland Park August 20. | Curtis Lehmkuhl~Sun-Times Media
Name: Teacher Peach!
Specialty: Teacher-oriented products for classroom use and professional development
Location: 458 Central Ave., Highland Park
Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Friday; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday; Sundays by appointment
www.teacherpeach.com; (847) 926-7298
Updated: September 9, 2012 10:00PM
HIGHLAND PARK — The bright red apple long has been symbolic of education, but Randi Brill chose to brand her Highland Park store and new line of teacher products around the less clichéd peach.
A banner inside Teacher Peach! at 458 Central Ave. explains it all, starting off with “Because an apple for a teacher just isn’t enough anymore.”
“Teaching is like a peach,” noted Brill. “It is fuzzy, it is juicy, and it is full of the pits. We are here to help teachers tackle all of the pits.”
The store’s products — many of which are less than $10 and none more than $25 — cater to professional educators, as well as parents or grandparents looking for a token of appreciation or resources to help their own youngsters.
One popular item is a twin set of “rock, paper, scissors” dice that teachers use in classroom management, letting chance decide the outcome of minor disputes.
Brill, an experienced entrepreneur, has a keen understanding of the pressures on teachers as they try to implement new standards and comply with higher demands for accountability. The centerpiece product is a Common Core State Standards Kit that provides teachers with a structure for working on goals and keeping records of their progress in reaching individual students. That kind of self-scrutiny and reflection is imperative under the new teacher evaluation model being rolled out across suburban school districts this year.
Brill expected Teacher Peach! would be an online venture, but customers kept asking, “Where’s your store?” The inventory also was encroaching on space in her downtown Chicago location. The front of the store features Teacher Peach! products, all evaluated by professional educators, and those of other companies.
Items include notepads that provide teachers a friendly way to relay messages to parents, such as “Please give me a call; I’d like to catch up,” or “It was a great day, I’d like to tell you more.”
As a Glencoe parent, Brill happened to receive a letter in the mail from the school district announcing that Molly Cinnamon had decided not to return as principal of South School. “I thought, oh, my gosh, I can talk to Molly,” recalled Brill, of the the natural fit for her new business. “I never would have approached her while she was there.” Cinnamon, who previously taught music at Hubbard Woods School in Winnetka, said she felt a need to work with teachers in a different way than as their supervisor and evaluator. She continues to teach Educational Leadership for aspiring school principals at National Louis University’s Lisle campus.
“Teachers will talk to me differently as their teacher about their hopes, fears and aspirations,” said Cinnamon, “than when I am their boss.”