We had the good fortune of connecting with Brittany Naujok and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Brittany, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?

I am the owner and operator of The Colorado Classroom, where I create resources for teachers to use in the classroom to help their students learn, practice, assess, and grow within their knowledge.

I had been a sixth-grade teacher for about a decade when the idea of a business was presented to me by a colleague. I loved presenting at Professional Development Seminars and sharing my resources, forms, and ideas with my fellow teachers. I was going through CDs like crazy, handing them out by the handfuls at schools. This thoughtful colleague, Carolyn, suggested I sell my ideas, forms, and resources instead of just handing them out. So, the idea of a business began.

At that point, I visited the internet and searched for sites that allowed teachers to sell resources. I discovered that a few years earlier, a website marketplace had been started and that one teacher, Deanna Jump, had made a million dollars selling resources. I was amazed! First, knowing that such a marketplace existed for teachers to share resources across the continent and globe was pretty cool. Secondly, to realize that someone had already made a million dollars doing exactly what I wanted to do was mind-blowing. I was hooked.

Over the next two years, I set up my store, developed my brand, refined the resources for sale, and loaded them on the site. Working as a teacher full-time, a store manager, and a curriculum developer was challenging. I found myself only pouring into my store on breaks and holidays. But I also saw growth every time one of those breaks or holidays passed, so I knew what I was doing was worth the effort.

When health issues in the classroom reared their head, creating and selling my own resources allowed me to stay within education. Thus, my passion for education could still be fulfilled while my health issues were also being met. It was a true win-win situation!

My thought process behind starting my own business was to reach more teachers than I ever thought possible. I wanted to help fellow educators however and whenever I could, thus impacting more children than I could reach in my classroom. I wanted to share my love for education and my passion for curriculum design and organization with others who maybe didn’t have that love or desire, making their lives easier.

Building this business has let me achieve many of those goals. I’ve sold products to over 20,000 individual teachers, far more than I could have reached even at the largest conference. And those teachers have likely presented my work to hundreds of thousands of students, meaning that I’ve been able to touch more lives than I ever would have thought possible. So starting this business has been an amazing experience for me.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?

My work involves creating appealing and interesting lessons for students and resources for teachers. This could include anything from forms and lesson plans to student assignments, practice, games, assessments, and more. I tend to focus on social studies and math resources for sixth grade, although I have a fourth-grade Colorado history curriculum and some things for as far down as kindergarten and as far up as 9th grade. Social studies is my main love, and where I develop thousands of pages of lessons and activities for ancient history. I am very proud of this because I have shown the determination and stamina to create such extensive and comprehensive resources for teachers and students. I rarely do anything halfway or small.

Getting to where I am professionally has been simultaneously easy and a struggle. I love designing, so getting up and going to work every day is easy, and ideas tend to flow effortlessly from the head to the paper. On the other hand, gaining in popularity, dealing with mental health, and fighting the inner demons of imposter syndrome have all been challenging. I struggle with those items daily. Ideally, I just have to push on, persevere, and do what I know is correct, sound, and in the best interest of my well-being and society as a whole.

If I had to pick something I would like people to know about my brand or my story, I would like people to know that I love learning, engaging learners, and making lessons hands-on for students. I would want people to know that I genuinely care about students, teachers, education, and the future of our world. My heart is entirely in this.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?

I live in the best city in Colorado. There is much to do, see, experience, and enjoy in Colorado Springs. I love to take people on tours around the city and the area.

On one day, you must take time to see and hike the beauty of the Garden of the Gods. From exquisite red rock formations to expert climbers traversing them to wildlife and flora in abundance, Garden of the Gods offers a beautiful respite from the hustle and bustle of the city and allows one to commune with nature. The sheer forces of nature that caused the uprising of bright red spires of rocks are awe-inspiring. After hiking, walking, and driving through this majestic area, we would head to Briarmart, a local Mediterranean deli and international market on North Academy, run by a great guy named Sean. We would partake in the best gyros in town, incredible pita chips, Greek nachos, basmati rice with saffron butter, and chicken skewers. It’s a delectable delight.

I am a firm supporter of the Olympics and actually had a small part in bringing the Olympic Hall of Fame to Colorado Springs back in the 80s, so a day to tour all the Olympic hot spots would also be on our agenda. We have the skating rink training center, the Olympic Training Center, which offers full tours, and the Olympic Museum now, a mammoth building full of Olympic memorabilia and moments. Our day would end with another great meal at Jose Muldoons in downtown Colorado Springs. They are a local Mexican restaurant with two locations, and their authentic food is delicious, and the atmosphere is fun and neighborly.

Another day would be reserved for visiting our neighboring town of Manitou Springs. Walking around the city, tasting the free natural springs, playing at the Penny Arcade, and seeing all the interesting and unique businesses is a great way to spend a day with family and friends. Lunch at The Loop, a Mexican restaurant with authentic cuisine and gigantic margaritas, is not to be missed, as well as a relaxing dinner at the fondue restaurant Mona Lisa.

There’s still more to do in town and the surrounding area, and plans could be made to visit the acclaimed Cheyenne Mountain Zoo that our family regularly visits. Another possible sight could include the Air Force Academy, one of just five military academies in the country. Although its famed chapel is under renovation, it will soon be available for viewing again. We could also hike up the Seven Bridges Trail in North Cheyenne Canon, see the leaves changing in Mueller State Park, or possibly visit Cripple Creek for some historical sites and a bit of gambling on the side.

There are so many other places and restaurants we frequent as a family that it is hard to narrow it down to just a few. Colorado Springs is truly a wonderous town.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?

I owe so many people thanks and appreciation for where I am. Obviously, my family, my husband, Jeff, and my kids, Jason and Reagan, have been amazing throughout my professional journey. Their support, encouragement, patience, and advice have been tremendous.

I would never have thought to put my ideas and resources up for sale if it wasn’t for Carolyn Costantino suggesting it to me way back when. My dear friends and teammates who have encouraged and supported me throughout the years – Karen Knapp, Jill Ciolli, & Nichole Falkowski are incredible cheerleaders and friends.

Professionally, I am so thankful to TeachersPayTeachers (TPT) for allowing me a platform to sell my ideas and concepts to others. I also have dear friends who have been friends, mentors, and part of my Masterminds throughout my journey. They push me to grow, adapt, pivot and push through when things seem daunting. Without them, I would be lost. – Joyce Oberg, Ellie Nixon, Andrea Annas, Brigid Dober, Leah Cleary, Shelly Rees, & Amy Hughes. These women are great inspirations and mean the world to me.

Website: https://thecoloradoclassroom.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/colorado_classroom/

Linkedin: linkedin.com/in/brittany-naujok-0a32aa254

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CO_Classroom/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ColoradoClassroom

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4int3xZhGn0lj9w1Q1-0-g

Other: TPT https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/The-Colorado-Classroom Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/ColoradoClassroom/

Image Credits
Jonathan Betz Photography Brittany Naujok

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