BUFFALO, NY - Timothy P. Weibel ’00, MS ’04 relished his days as an educator. For 10 years, he taught reading and math to third grade students at Cayuga Heights Elementary in Depew. When he wasn’t correcting homework, Weibel tinkered around at designing an education-related website. The result? SuperTeacherWorksheets.com which became a way to share with other educators the classroom lessons Weibel created for his students. Very quickly, the website earned high praise and millions of visitors each month.
“It caught on for a few reasons,” Weibel said. “There wasn’t nearly as much competition in 2007 as there is today.”
Because the website offered high-quality content free-of-charge, Weibel said he was able to attract a large base of loyal users.
Soon it became apparent that SuperTeacherWorksheets.com had the potential to become a viable business venture, and Weibel was faced with a difficult decision.
“I loved being a teacher but at the same time I had the opportunity to pursue something else that I really enjoyed,” he recalled.
Opportunity won out.
Weibel left the classroom to dedicate himself full-time to the business. He rented office space in Tonawanda, enhanced the website architecture to support more traffic and changed SuperTeacherWorksheets.com from a free service to a paid subscription site, available to individual teachers and entire school districts.
Today, Super Teacher Worksheets employs a team of 12 people who create more than 10,000 printable resources for K-5 elementary teachers including math worksheets, reading comprehension games and spelling lists. The business has more than 180,000 subscribers and averages two million visitors each month.
“We have subscribers from the U.S. and 210 other countries such as Australia, the United Kingdom and India, because they teach students to speak English as a second language,” Weibel said.
The swift success of Super Teacher Worksheets can be attributed to Weibel’s education and experience. He holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in education from Canisius. He also knows what teachers want because he was one. Therefore his worksheet fonts look “just like the letters young students are learning to write.” Math dittos provide students “with enough room to show their work.” In-house graphic designers add engaging visuals and worksheet activities are tested in local classrooms.
“We spent a recent summer working with a group of teachers to be sure that all of our worksheets aligned with the New York State Common Core standards,” Weibel said.
While classroom lessons still require paper and pencil, new technologies such as laptops, iPads and digital whiteboards are quickly becoming commonplace in the classroom. This prompted Weibel to launch ModernChalkboard.com in 2012.
“Most teachers are educated in SMART Board technology but don’t have the time to create in-depth lessons to present to their classes,” he said.
A single lesson can take up to 10-plus hours to create, Weibel explained. “Our goal is to make teachers’ jobs easier so we provide them with ready-to-use digital content.”