It's Tenacity Tales time again, and this month we have the honor of showcasing a non-profit that's providing a service that's increasingly needed and often times forgot about: PTSD for students, teachers, and parents.
It's a heart-wrenching reality that bullying, attempted suicide, and active shooter drills and alerts are increasingly the norm in our school systems. When these tragedies strike we see the images on the news right away, but seldom do we hear about what happens to the victims in the aftermath.
Teachers Rising Up is the new non-profit out of Denver, CO that aims to provide healing, awareness, and support to all of the direct and secondary victims that need it so much.
Jake Nguyen met founder David Croft at a mutual friend's fortieth birthday party this past fall and immediately came on board.
"Once I got involved it was like a freight train!" said Nguyen.
Read more about Nguyen's journey and the Teachers Rising Up mission in our latest Tenacity Tales.
Jake Nguyen, Co-Founder and Chief Operations Officer of Teachers Rising Up.
What’s the obstacle that you’ve overcome that you’re most proud of?
David and I... officially incorporated in September 2019 with a website going live. We became a 501(c)(3) organization as of January 2020.
So just getting started and quickly getting our IRS nonprofit status [is what I'm most proud of]. The application process was quite an undertaking forcing us to dig deep into the details of the foundation.
The official logo of Teachers Rising Up. It features an open book punctuated by a horizontal stripe in school bus yellow. You can read the full story behind the logo on the Teachers Rising Up website.
What do you know now that you wish you’d known then?
How fast and slow everything moves in this sector of business.
David started developing Teachers Rising Up in 2017 on the eve of his retirement of over 30 years of teaching. He saw a gap growing between the expectations of teachers to the level of support provided, causing significant unaddressed trauma and burn out within the industry. We needed to change that.
Teachers are now first responders to our children and that's why Teachers Rising Up started. When events occur in schools, the impact on teachers, students, and their families are so great that much of the long-term support that is needed is overlooked (like mental health needs).
I went to college for early childhood education and was able to work in the field for about three years. Burnout unfortunately set in quickly with low pay, and limited growth potential, so I found myself entering the technology field in 2001. Combining the newly learned technical skills with an education background proved successful. Teachers Rising Up allows me to use all of my experiences in business and manage with passion for helping others. I couldn't be happier! So when talking with Dave about Teachers Rising Up, anyone could easily see his passion and I knew that this was going to be great. Even if we only helped one person it would be worth it.
What’s your best advice to other small business owners?
Every business has the same problems. Know your own limits and surround yourself with people that can help you navigate those problems.
Jake with his wife Lisa and son Decker. Lisa is a local teacher in Denver, CO where the family live, which makes Teachers Rising Up a family affair that's extra close to Jake's heart.
What’s a typical day like for you?
As founders, David and I communicate regularly throughout day. David's day is made up of connecting with people, and his ability to always be available to listen and share is what makes us successful!
For me, on weekdays, well I'm married to a teacher, and her day starts at 5 am. Shortly thereafter, our one year-old son wakes up. I'll wake up around the same time he does usually around 6 am, and then my wife and I "tag team" baby duties to get ready for the day.
She's out the door by 7 am, so it's mine and my son's quality time before I take him to daycare at 8 am. Then, it's off the office working at another Colorado-based nonprofit helping at-risk youth and their families. I am so blessed by their support for me. We have an agreement that allows me to be transparent between the obligations with them and to the foundation I've started. This allows me to take meetings during the day without impacting other responsibilities.
Like most careers, there's never really enough time in the day, so around 4:30 pm I force myself to start wrapping up to be home around 5 pm, so I can at least have dinner with the family before the little one goes to bed. Then, it's time with my wife, and chores around the house. She'll go to bed around 9 pm, and that's when the laptop opens and [I'm] off to emails, website management, and all the other responsibilities of Teachers Rising Up business. I don't try to stay up past 10 pm. Being in my 40's, sleep is critical for me!
The weekends are my time with my family— Period. I was consumed by my career in my 20's and 30's working for a multi-billion dollar corporation. I sacrificed a lot of personal time and connections between my friends and family for my career. Now that I have a family of my own, there is nothing more important.
A teacher and his students from Leonia High School in New Jersey reached out to TRU, inquiring about their programming. They also created wooden flag signs inspired by the TRU logo.
What’s next for you and Teachers Rising Up?
Two immediate things!
One: We're working with some amazing people to establish our Board of Directors.
Two: We've partnered with local counseling centers to aid in their goal to get more counselors into schools for the teachers and students. This campaign will initiate our fundraising events.
Our goal is for every school to know we exist and that we are here to fill the gaps in supporting teachers, students and their families. Support is a spectrum, from regular treatment counseling sessions, to a cup of coffee. If it helps, then no request is too small or too grand for Teachers Rising Up to try. We may not always hit 100%, but we'll always hit 0% if we do nothing. Being a victim takes many forms and we want to be the long term solution. We want this organization to unite teachers all over the world and become the symbol for supporting our schools, showing our duty as a community to help, and the reminder to remember those lost.
Today we get a lot of hugs. People are thankful that Teachers Rising Up is here, even though we feel we haven't done much... Yet.
Want to learn more about Jake and Teachers Rising Up?
Check out the Teachers Rising Up website.
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