Publisher offers aid to teachers

Teachers often are forced to pay for classroom materials out-of-pocket - and in this current economic climate this is undoubtedly more difficult than ever.

But the La Jolla-based independent small press, WOCTO, is coming to the rescue with its offer of free online lesson plans, flash games and glossaries.

The idea came about approximately two years ago, when WOCTO founder Lin Jakary traveled the country talking to educators. The company, whose mascot is a walking octopus, premiered online in the fall of 2008 and entered the retail market in 2009.

Jakary’s computer-savvy business partner, Ryan Olson, who previously worked for Disney and Nickelodeon, handles the technical aspects of the company.

“I was really shocked at how much [the teachers] spent out-of-pocket,” she said. “I’m talking almost two years ago, and how their budgets even then were being cut.”

WOCTO hired an educational consultant who had taught in both the U.S. and Europe to design classroom materials in line with the higher state standards, namely that of California and Michigan. The materials cover language arts, math, science and social studies and are organized by grade. They can also be used by home schooling families or parents seeking enrichment for their children.

“We’re really, really getting a great response, because teachers can bring the books into the classroom, get the kids excited about the books, then they go online and play some of the Flash games, so it’s really a whole package for them. If they want to associate it with a lesson plan, they could download them and use them as a springboard,” said Jakary, who also said she plans to make the materials as long as people are interested.

The March release of the materials also coincided with Small Press Month, and WOCTO is one of the few small presses based in San Diego. The company also has a green focus, using an American manufacturer to keep jobs in the U.S., and their books are lead-free and use soy-based inks.

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