Santa Clara High School special education teacher David Smedley and necessity have mothered a new invention that lets teachers literally wipe the slate clean every day. Smedley’s creation, which he named Teacher’s Pet, lets him wipe the whiteboard clean as fresh snow every day, time after time.
Smedley, with 15 years of experience erasing classroom whiteboards, was frustrated with the marker residue left behind using a standard eraser and the spray-on chemical cleaner that leaves streaks. Rummaging around his home linen closet, he found a microfiber dish cloth that did a better job but wasn’t quite good enough.
So Smedley spent a couple years developing and field testing a more effective microfiber cloth. Finally hitting the right mix of fibers, and with his wife onboard with the venture, he risked part of his retirement nest egg to produce an orange microfiber mitt with eyes that make it look like Grover from “Sesame Street.” Or is it an orange Cookie Monster? A student gave him the idea of adding the eyes—and the fun—to the mitt.
“It’s scary when you write a big first check to some company in a communist country that hasn’t been over for dinner,” said Smedley.
Teacher’s Pet is manufactured in China. The packaging, designed by an artist in Latvia, is printed in Little Rock, Arkansas. Smedley hosted packaging parties at his Santa Clara home, and friends and family packaged the mitts. He started selling the Teacher’s Pet in November 2016 through social media.
“This is the cutest thing I’ve ever done in my entire life,” said Smedley. “It has made me busier than I’ve ever been in my entire life. It’s been wonderful—to have an idea that catches on and people give you awards for it.”
A couple of his earlier ventures never quite caught on. Leftover flip flops with a toe strap made of parachute cord and wool sweaters from Scotland still take up closet space. But Teacher’s Pet is a 2017 National Parenting Product Awards Winner, an Edison Awards 2017 Nominee and a Learning Magazine 2018 Teachers’ Choice Award winner.
“It’s been more fun than I ever would have imagined. Sleepless nights, too,” said Smedley. “I tell my students that having ideas and dreams is wonderful and great. But if you have a plan, you can take those dreams and make them into something.”
Smedley calls his funky “eraser” the #1 whiteboard eraser on the planet. Others agree.
“I’m done filling out order forms for dry erasers and sprays every couple of months. The Teacher’s Pet cleans my board completely. No streaks, no residue. Spotless, every time, with the same Teacher’s Pet I got myself 18 months ago. Teacher’s Pet=clean. Everything else=Dirty,” wrote SCHS teacher Mike Evans in an email.
“Love my new Teacher’s Pet! It erases quickly and removes all marks on the whiteboard. The students love it because I told them that it is our class pet. Fun, yet practical design,” wrote Washington Open Elementary School 1st grade teacher Janine Barraclough in an email. “I have students sensitive to smells and using this requires no harsh spray chemicals. Students can use this eraser, too. Great product and so creative!”
“You don’t have to be an engineer or computer programmer to be successful,” Smedley tells his SCHS students. “If you have an idea and you’re willing to work at it, you can find your own success.”
For information, including other uses for Teacher’s Pet and a sneak preview of child-sized mitts planned for 2018, visit the website: www.teacherspet4u.com. Order directly from Amazon at www.amazon.com/Deep-Dealz-LLC-Teachers-Pet/dp/B01MFFLHJJ. Be sure to follow the washing directions on the cute packaging.