We talked to Ami Shah of Peekapak about the social-emotional learning curriculum students will love and here is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Ami Shah: Thanks for asking! We are keeping healthy and feel fortunate that many of us can work from home and are keeping safe and healthy.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Peekapak.
Ami Shah: I’m the Co-Founder & CEO of Peekapak, an award-winning Edtech platform and an online game world that teaches emotional intelligence skills self-regulation, empathy and teamwork in the class and home. Peekapak currently engages and empowers over 400,000 educators and students. I gained extensive marketing experience through various roles at Procter & Gamble, and most recently, as Director of Retail Marketing at a consumer products startup. I’m passionate about improving youth education, and have previously taught in K-4 classrooms and advised & volunteered at education-related non-profit organizations.
How does Peekapak innovate?
Ami Shah: Peekapak aims to empower the next generation of globally aware, enthusiastic and empathetic citizens – whether learning is in-person, virtual, or hybrid. Since our start, this mission has led us to build an award-winning social-emotional learning (SEL) platform that helps elementary students learn life-long skills like self-regulation, empathy, and teamwork through original stories, evidence-based lessons, family activities, and personalized learning games. Peekapak’s curriculum seamlessly integrates into English Language Arts and literacy instruction to save teachers time. As a technology platform, Peekapak captures data across all stakeholders and uniquely captures students’ sentiment data to help educators be proactive in curbing future mental health issues. Behind-the-scenes, teachers and administrators receive real-time reports showing a student’s progress and emotional state. This allows educators to be proactive in helping curve future mental health issues and promote positive well-being in the classroom.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Ami Shah: The pandemic has raised awareness for the need for social, emotional learning and mental health supports. In 2020, Peekapak took a leadership position to help school leaders provide the needed mental health and well-being resources to support students through the pandemic. We created a pandemic specific storybook about returning to school and a series of lessons to help students make sense of this ‘new normal’ and manage their emotions. Peekapak has also developed customizations to its platform to save teachers time to teach virtually with Peekapak and engage students in meaningful learning experiences. Peekapak’s resources are flexible to support both in-person and remote learning settings, making it ideal for schools facing potential school closures.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Ami Shah: With all the uncertainty we wanted to make sure our users were supported through the pandemic, so we quickly checked in and called many of our customers to get a sense of what modifications and ways we could provide support. We also decided to provide 100% free access to our platform for the rest of the 2019-2020 school year to support the broader community to have access. This meant we didn’t see revenue for some months, but in the end, we believed it was the right thing to do and were able to grant access to educators serving over 700k students around the world.
What specific tools, software and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Ami Shah: In many ways, we’re all practicing what we ‘preach’ – by practicing many of the skills we’re helping students learn. For example, things like journaling, practicing mindfulness and exercising helped me balance the work and stay calm through the pandemic.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Ami Shah: In our industry, many of the other players work collaboratively or help each other out. For example, many of us are on a council for SEL providers, where we all learn from each other.
Your final thoughts?
Ami Shah: We hope that we all continue to recognize the importance of student well-being and mental health, and we all look out for each and being there for each other.
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