Teams of Tomorrow Director Debra Wood has a love for working with children. Starting as a home economics teacher, and then as a kindergarten teacher, she has had her share of teaching and sharing moments when a student understands a concept or accomplishes a feat for the first time.
Debra’s other side is all business. With clear-cut conversation and a go-getter attitude, Debra creates and seizes opportunities to prosper, including the startup of a company called Frog Street Press. Her company developed pre-kindergarten and kindergarten curricula and classroom décor for teachers instructing students up to junior high age.
When Debra found out about TOT, the program was another opportunity to empower a synergistic blend of her inner teacher and her sharp business skills. Her daughter, Lauren, had visited a close family friend who was a TOT director. Lauren saw a TOT performance during her stay and knew the program would be great for her mom.
After her daughter urged her to try TOT, Debra watched a webinar, prayed and made the decision to become a TOT director for east Texas in April 2011.
Debra’s region serves about 45 schools with seven preschool TOT teachers and three upper TOT teachers. As for Debra, she stays on the business end, though she occasionally fills in for an absent teacher.
“I was just really and truly going to manage the area,” Debra said. “I love to teach, but I love to do sales and marketing [too].”
When halftime performances kick off, Debra said she usually finds herself at a school gymnasium every Tuesday and Friday night in December and January.
“The most rewarding part of being a TOT director is putting your feet on that court during halftime performance…and having everyone come together as one,” Debra said. “Once that music comes on, that ‘Hello, Hello’ song, [the students’] faces just light up.”
Debra cherishes the time she spends with her daughters through TOT; they often help with performances and other areas of the business. She also emphasizes an important point: TOT starts with basketball but goes SO much deeper! Listening skills, following directions, self control …. so many of the skills that young children need to prepare for school AND life!
“I tell my girls, ‘We’re in a mission field,’” Debra said. “Put a smile on your face and spread the sunshine throughout the day.”
Debra said she believes TOT directors and instructors can also brighten the day for teachers at TOT schools and directors at preschools and daycare centers.
Debra is also quick to put the spotlight on her TOT teachers when it comes to how the program has changed lives. Debra wants her TOT teachers to have a flexible and easygoing experience. She also encourages her teachers to remember to take care of themselves, including taking advantage of breaks in between classes to chill out or run a few errands.
“As a director, you’re only going to be as good as your teachers are,” Debra said.
As for her TOT teachers, Debra said she aims to hire the best. Debra encourages all TOT teachers to focus on having a good time during classes and performances. She believes in order for the students to have fun, the teachers need to be having fun as well.
She said her biggest challenge is competing against other preschool motor skills programs. However, TOT makes many other areas of directorship easy by providing support and materials to run a business.
“Starting a business? Now that’s tough,” Debra said.
Yet Debra’s experience with a franchise like TOT was eye opening. Purchasing a franchise proved much smoother than launching a business from scratch, Debra said.
“I would say that TOT is an opportunity of a lifetime,” Debra said. “If your life situation allows you to take this step, take it.”