It was his sixth-grade teacher who changed it all for Santa Clarita resident Tyler Anderson. When others failed to see his academic potential, his educator stood by his side to help him succeed.
“This teacher took a personal interest in me,” said Anderson, owner of No Bugs Organic Pest Control. “Looking back I say, ‘Wow, that teacher made a difference.’”
Now he’s paying it forward, not only to Michael Pace, who was formerly a teacher at Wiley Canyon Elementary School, but to all school staffers with his organization I Love Teachers, which partners with businesses to offer discounts to educators.
“There’s discounts for sheriff’s deputies, veterans and seniors, but there’s none for teachers,” said Anderson. He recalled an instance where a law enforcement officer received exclusive savings for coffee, but a former history teacher, who happened to stand in line behind him at a coffee shop, did not receive a discount.
“I asked the barista if they could give the teacher a discount and said that we wouldn’t have a deputy or any other professional if it weren’t for our teachers,” he said. “And the barista said, ‘Sir, this is free.’”
I Love Teachers was created to make moments like those more frequent. To receive savings, teachers and staff sign up for the program and access scores of benefits and offers, ranging from automotive to restaurants and travel. The membership costs participants an annual fee of $6, $2 of which goes to a teacher assistance program to help educators in need and another $2 is designated to a scholarship fund for students interested in entering the education field. The remaining $2 goes toward operating I Love Teachers.
But it first began under his own pest control company, where he advertised free services for local school staffers during the summer of last year. After growing in popularity, other businesses wanted to jump on board.
Among those businesses was Pita Pit in Valencia. For nearly a year, the locale has been offering educators up to 50% off on their pitas. Employee Miranda Firth said, “Teachers are really appreciative of this and they can’t believe that the discount is offered because not many businesses offer discounts to teachers.”
Soon enough, My Tire Store Inc. in Newhall began offering free oil changes and tire rotations. Today, about 30 Santa Clarita Valley businesses are on board to offer teachers exclusive offers including, no wait time at Sabor Cocina Mexicana, complimentary yoga sessions at Yoga Yoga and 50% off appetizers at Saddle Ranch.
It doesn’t only benefit SCV educators and businesses. In February, I Love Teachers launched nationwide and now offers 1.8 million discounts, said Anderson. The organization’s website, iloveteachers.com, also offers ad placement for tutors and summer jobs.
In mid-June, Anderson expects to launch OurGrade.com, a companion website for I Love Teachers. The site will include a “report card” section where teachers can grade a business’ customer service with an aim to strengthen the symbiotic relationship between business owners and teachers, he said.
“Businesses can earn an ‘A’ or in the unfortunate event a lower grade that will show the business owner the areas that may need attention to improve the grade, to improve the customer experience. Like in school, a business could work to get their grades up if their performance was shown to be subpar,” reads a section of iloveteachers.com.
The organization’s growth has proved successful as more businesses are joining and more school staffers are receiving benefits, but Anderson said the biggest obstacle has been that “teachers ask, ‘What’s the catch?’”
“People are saying that it’s too good to be true,” he added. “Because this (service) is new, we’re running into buyers resistance for fear. On Instagram, people are asking, ‘What are you doing with my information?’ I say, ‘Wait a minute, it’s not too good to be true.’”
One of the ways I Love Teachers is working to improve its services and credibility, said Anderson, is by offering Apple Pay, PayPal and other accredited payment offers.