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Kay Twelve-Kevin Stoller

Kay Twelve-Kevin Stoller

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Kay Twelve-Furniture for Adaptable Learning

Creating Better Learning Environments-Furniture Concepts to Enhance Student Outcomes

Speaker 0 00:00:03 Welcome to the Southwest life podcast with your host, me Vicki, to lose you where we will talk about things to boost your health, improve your relationships, find new things to do with your family and talk with business owners in the area and more thanks for being here and enjoy the show. Hi guys. Today we have Kevin Stoller with K-12 and he’s going to be telling me all about, and you guys all about his business. And so, Kevin, can you start me off with a little bit about your background and your family?
Speaker 1 00:00:44 Sure. Yeah. Vicki, thanks for having me. yeah, I’m I been in Arizona for three years, so kind of going back, I grew up in Chicago area and, , just, , kinda just love sports and was really into all everything sports. And then I went to college in Ohio and thought I was going to do like sports documentaries and actually did a documentary on Michael Jordan, kinda, and, , met my wife there and we were in Ohio for about 20 years and, , found out,, that I’ve really wanted to be a business owner. I just didn’t have really good, good idea. And, just worked for a few companies and then brought in one of my friends to a company that we worked with and we said, you know what, we can do this on our own. And, and with, with us breaking off, we kind of stumbled into this world of, of school furniture and learning environments. And we actually kind of found a passion for it from there, even though, , you know, I can’t say I had it before. I just started seeing how much impact, the interiors and the types of furniture impacted the way students learn and, and what their school experience was like. So that’s a, that’s really kinda been, my focus is making sure that everyone has better learning environments because, we know we’ve seen it, that the studies have been coming out and we’ve seen the results. So, yeah, that’s, that’s my quick, my quick intro,
Speaker 0 00:02:15 , did you have a hard time sitting on a regular chair when you were a student cause your chairs aren’t like the normal kind of chairs. People will have to go to your website to see this?
Speaker 1 00:02:27 Yeah, I mean, we, we do a little bit of everything, but we’re always saying is, is your school’s should fit the mission of the school. You know, like Arizona there there’s, you know, a lot that kind of have more of the classical, , philosophy to it and really want the straight rows. That’s not boy, you know, like that, that’s not the way that I learn best. And, but you know, like it’s, it’s kinda cool in Arizona that there is that choice, for, for students and parents to kind of pick the style that’s best for them. But I would say the, the overwhelming majority of schools around the country before COVID, we can talk about COVID did to this after was looking at flexible environments where students had more of choice of where they were learning and knowing that it doesn’t have to be the same thing all the time.
Speaker 1 00:03:15 It doesn’t need to be that same straight, straight rows teacher up at the front. Like we see in every movie and every TV show for the last, you know, that we have nightmares about exactly, you know, it’s all, and it’s never like the kids are super engaged. It’s always, you get another heads on the desk and you know, they’re not paying attention. so we’re always looking at ways of how to get students engaged and, , and a lot of the times that means a total variety from like kids standing to beanbag chairs, to, wobbles stools, to all, to, you know, like a variety of different things. And, and it’s really cool to see how students can choose their own environment and what they’re comfortable with. And knowing that it’s not the same every time there might be times where they need to stand out. There may be times where they need to get up, you know, like really close and times where they needed to go into groups and, and, and it’s really cool to see how quick the environment can change once you address it and how the students respond to it.
Speaker 0 00:04:15 Yeah. so who has been some of your biggest clients?
Speaker 1 00:04:20 Yeah, here in Arizona, we we’ve worked with a lot of the public districts, so, , we’ve done a lot of work with queen Creek lately. they’ve had some new schools we’ve done work with Wilson elementary school district, which is just South of downtown. , and that’s a perfect example of a school that, , totally change it, you know, like it’s typically considered kind of a lower income area and they have some of the most innovative classrooms that you would see in the country. , and then we do work with some of the, charter school networks, like great hearts. so, so we, we do work with a variety of schools and, you know, we always say like, every classroom shouldn’t look the same and, and that’s kind of result of who we work with. Everyone looks totally different and it’s all kind of based on what they see as the mission and the vision of their school.
Speaker 0 00:05:17 So no more cookie cutter classrooms that you see in the building.
Speaker 1 00:05:20 Nah, we’re trying to get rid of them. Yeah. I mean, we’re, I’m a little nervous about what kind of like the CDC is requiring and what they’re recommended recommending, for schools to, to open up here. But yeah. And then obviously now it’s the home environment as well. How, how, you know, like where you’re talking to schools a lot about that of saying, Hey, like, you know, like we can’t just have kids just sit in front of zoom all day long. We gotta make sure that we’re, we’re encouraged him to have the right environment.
Speaker 0 00:05:52 Yeah, absolutely. , where is, Oh yeah. And we were saying about Kobe, like, how is your business pivoting with Coke?
Speaker 1 00:06:02 Yeah. I mean, what’s interesting is, the schools are still buying stuff it’s just different right now. And, and we’re really trying to be an advocate and trying to be the one that’s kind of looking forward and saying like, I understand you have a really tough situation right now of trying to get schools reopened and kind of accommodate the general public as well as the staff, , and creating safe environments. But we’re saying they got a lot of money to make improvements and to prepare the schools. And some of them are taking that opportunity to think, well, what is our school going to look like over the next, you know, like 10 years and some of the schools are looking at like, what is our school going to look like the next three months? And we’re, we’re really trying to help them look at more long term because I mean, we’re selling a lot of plexiglass and I’ll just be really honest.
Speaker 1 00:06:56 It’s, it’s super frustrating. because I don’t know anyone who thinks the plexiglass is a good learning environment and that it’s going to prevent COVID from spreading it’s, it’s more kind of wasting money for show. So we’re, we’re, we’re pretty vocal about it. We’re definitely the ones in the industry that are challenging that status quo and saying, Hey guys, like, can you look at stuff that maybe can have some physical distancing right now, but when, you know, we’re more comfortable doing some more collaboration that they can work in the groups and that they can move them freely and be able to rearrange the classroom really easily. Yeah.
Speaker 0 00:07:34 It’s a little dystopian.
Speaker 1 00:07:36 It is. It’s, it’s super fresh. Cause we were making a lot of progress. Like just the education industry in general was making a lot of progress. Yeah. So I it’ll come back and, you know, we just keep being vocal about it and, and trying to guide the schools, you know, in, into, you know, they, a lot of them are just scared right now, you know, like they’re just trying to protect themselves and make sure they, they are contributing to people getting sick, which I understand nobody wants that, but
Speaker 0 00:08:07 It’s a scary thing. I mean, I see some of the chairs and I know I said, I sit at a, sometimes a ball, especially when I was pregnant. Sometimes I sit with my leg on the wall and my husband’s like, Oh goodness. So I can imagine what seven year old.
Speaker 1 00:08:23 Yeah. Cause how old are your kids?
Speaker 0 00:08:25 , my kids are 10, eight and seven.
Speaker 1 00:08:27 Okay. So, I mean, I’m going to assume they don’t just sit like at a desk all day long. He kind of just straight. I mean, I mean, I’m assuming they’re like our kids and other kids, like they’re laying on the ground, they’re walking around there. Yeah.
Speaker 0 00:08:43 Yeah. I was actually looking back in my Facebook memories and it was kind of a silly story, but I’ll share it for the listeners. So one of the kids had a old school, you know, the metal chairs and the kid got his, , elbow stuck behind the desk chair. And so the teacher had to, get, , she’s sanitizer to try to get the kid’s arms on stuff. And I just like have this thought in my memory is like this kid getting like a dinosaur turtle back, trying to get the chair off. And so maybe there’s other options because that kid was obviously not happy in the chair.
Speaker 1 00:09:26 Yeah. I know. Oh man. Yeah, that reminds me. We were at a wedding once when we had our oldest was with us. And at the time he was like only like three years old and he got his head stuck in a folding chair at the wedding. We were like the only ones that had kids. And so we got them out, but
Speaker 0 00:09:48 I hope the photographer took some pictures.
Speaker 1 00:09:50 Yeah. I wish I would have it. Great.
Speaker 0 00:09:52 I mean, for the budding couple, because I mean, that’s precious. You have to have it for memories, the wedding. That’s awesome. , so who provides you inspiration for your furniture?
Speaker 1 00:10:06 Yeah, so we work with a variety of manufacturers. I mean really around the world. I mean the vast majority of them are here in the U S , but there are some really cool companies that are thinking about design and thinking about how schools, how students can be more engaged. And, and so we work with a variety of them. Most of them seem to kind of be in like Michigan, Wisconsin, Midwest. There’s a lot of manufacturing there. And then the other, there’s a lot in Texas as well. And , and they’re doing some really fascinating stuff. Like when I, when I show people what, what they’re doing and they’re like, wow, really? Like, they’re really doing this in schools. I’m like, yeah, they are because they, there are studies that show that this is more effective.
Speaker 0 00:10:51 Yeah. How do you become a test subject to try out these?
Speaker 1 00:10:54 Oh man. , if I can find a school that’s already, , doing it as a good way to do it, but I mean, for the schools, that’s what we do all the time. They want to see it and we, we set up, we’ll bring them samples for them to try it out and, and, you know, and get feedback from them. yeah. When, when, when COVID hit where like, it was like all the schools closed up, so we were like, we didn’t have anyone to even talk to. And so we were like, well, let’s, let’s come up with some different things. We actually can’t like, we did some videos of, , how to like how to do a home learning environment. And it was really cool. It was a lot of fun. My kids were in the video and we took, you know, a lot of other furniture that wasn’t the school and said like, Hey, if you just get like one or two kind of pieces, it can, it can change everything.
Speaker 0 00:11:45 Yeah. Are you finding people are purchasing it for their home? Yeah,
Speaker 1 00:11:49 We are. , it’s, it’s interesting though, because you know, like home environments, so different, you know, like the things that we sell typically have to meet requirements like national requirements, to go into a school. So it’s things like they have to be built for it to last like 10 years, like have a 10 year warranty and they have to be made like, with like, they call them green guard requirements that are, so there’s not chemicals and things like that. And it’s not like that in the residential market. So a lot of the things that we have are honestly, it’s, it’s too expensive for residential. I mean, we tried doing it. so we’re seeing a lot of places like Ikea and Wayfair have like an inexpensive stuff that still kind of does a job, but, it’s yeah, yeah. They’re kind of like knockoff. I mean, there’ll be like, you know, like some stools and things and some, you know, cheaper desks and things which work out really well for residential. It just hasn’t, it doesn’t really fit for, for what we do. , but we’re, we’re definitely trying to help the schools, make the right recommendations to the parents. Gotcha. Yeah.
Speaker 0 00:13:05 Especially if they’re on computers for a long time.
Speaker 1 00:13:09 Yeah. The one, the one that I, I love that we have for our kids, it’s called a rock Herat. And if you go to dot com, it’s rocker. So R O C K E R O T T I think it’s awesome. And my wife at first she’s like, I don’t want to have like any of your commercial furniture in my house. And this was the one that she was like, wow, that is pretty cool. Like,
Speaker 0 00:13:34 Is it one of those stools that Todd tunnels back and forth?
Speaker 1 00:13:38 It rocks, it’s like an Ottoman. You, you can use it in like five different ways and it’s super light and there’s cool colors to it. And it’s really easy to clean, like it’s bleach cleanable. So they’re, but they’re so lightweight that like the kids can just like move them around and use them in different place. So my kids had fun kind of throwing them around the house and use them different ways.
Speaker 0 00:14:01 Oh, that’s awesome. you’ve also written a book. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Speaker 1 00:14:10 Yeah. A lot of this was when we recognize this, when we started working with schools, they, we found out that every school was going through the same thing. They were like, we know this doesn’t work anymore, these straight rows and kind of this furniture, bulky furniture doesn’t work, but we don’t know how to w how, how to improve it. And so, since we are working with hundreds of schools around the country, we’re just like, Hey, why don’t we just write a book for the, for the person who knows that there’s something better, but they don’t really know how to do it. So we wrote the book, creating better learning environments specific specifically for the, for those people. And, you know, it could be a teacher, it could be a principal. It could be, you know, like anyone in the administration, but it could also be like a parent or a student that picks it up and says, Hey, like how, how do we do this?
Speaker 1 00:14:58 And we look at kind of how students learn and, , and then also kind of show some different examples of schools around the country of what they’ve done and the research that they’ve been doing. And, and it was really meant, you know, really for those people. So we give it away. I mean, really, if any of your listeners, if you want it go and just ask us for it, we’ll at least send you, the, you know, the PDF version of it. But even if you want a hard copy, just let us know. Well, we’ll send it to you. Cause it is, it’s a, I mean, we just feel like it’s so important. it’s like one of the easiest things to immediately change the whole, the whole school experience for a student.
Speaker 0 00:15:41 Yeah. I always tell like other moms that are homeschooling too, sometimes you just need to change what you’re doing and just change the scenery, like move a couple of people around and everything can kind of change your perspective. And yeah,
Speaker 1 00:15:55 When you say like, Hey, we need to go outside for a minute. And just like that little change just changes. Yeah.
Speaker 0 00:16:00 Yeah. Absolutely. Or in my teacher’s case, they would just move me to another PR person thinking I wouldn’t talk to them and I would still be friends with them and keep on talking. It didn’t work in that case. So, sorry, teachers, I would still talk to everyone. They’re like, aren’t you not friends with anyone? I can be friends with everyone. was there anything else you wanted to tell our listeners?
Speaker 1 00:16:24 Yeah. I, I love what you’re doing. I think, you know, like that kinda lines of kind of what with me of like, we’re just wanting to build community and, you know, and what you’re doing with, you know, a surprise and for moms in particular, I just feel like community is needed so much right now. So I, yeah, I love what you’re doing and yeah, if there’s ever anything I can do to help would love to
Speaker 0 00:16:47 Thank you so much. I really appreciate it and appreciate you being on. And, , hopefully, , you know, people who are listening to this, if they have any questions about some furniture as I’ll reach out to you guys and or if they want to know how to set up their classrooms differently to get at them a little bit more organized, or maybe even a little less organized, I can, I guess you could say,
Speaker 1 00:17:10 Well, that’s funny. A lot of people say like, well, what’s the one thing I can do. And Emily, and it, literally, our first response is always like clear things out of the room, get things out before you worry about putting anything in clearing out and do that. But yeah, but I mean, if you do have any listeners that, you know, are involved with schools, we do. I mean, we do all that consultation and design for free. So if they, you know, if anyone wants to go to our website and, and request that, and it’s pretty cool to see some of these three D renderings and look at what, what it would look like.
Speaker 0 00:17:44 Yeah, that sounds really cool. Well, I’ll put everything in the show notes, so they’ll know how to contact you and, , get everything that they need. , so thank you so much, Kevin. I appreciate your time. Have a good night. You too.

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