Located in San Mateo, California, Reach And Teach is a peace and social justice learning company dedicated to transforming the world through teachable moments. Our co-founders, Craig Wiesner and Derrick Kikuchi, launched Reach And Teach in 2004 as a subsidiary of their award-winning educational consulting company, WKMN Training, LLC.
The road to launching Reach And Teach weaved through Silicon Valley, Mexico, El Salvador, Israel/Palestine, New York and Afghanistan. While running their successful multimedia education consulting company, Craig and Derrick became increasingly involved in peacemaking and social justice issues.
Derrick and Craig traveled to El Salvador in 2000, visiting and working with the people in Communidad Octavio Ortiz. There, they learned the stories of people who had lived through the horrors of civil war, torture, assassination, and the ever-present voices and weapons of "Norte Americano" soldiers who supported the Salvadoran government. Despite the damage inflicted on these people and the pain they endured, they welcomed their American friends into their homes, fed these guests their best food, gave up their own beds, and showered their guests with complete hospitality, kindness and love. These people who had so little gave so much to visiting strangers.
In that community seeds were planted that began to grow inside Craig and Derrick, moving them deeper into a quest for a more peaceful and just planet. Derrick became more deeply involved in border justice (California/Mexico) and Craig began speaking out about the violence between Israelis and Palestinians. September 11th brought war with Afghanistan and soon after the Taliban fell, Craig and Derrick were asked to be part of an interfaith delegation to Afghanistan to bring together people who'd lost loved ones on September 11th with Afghans who had lost loved ones, been injured, or lost homes in the war that followed.
The scenes of destruction and the stories of those who suffered, died, lost loved ones, were horrible. The realities of war could not have been made more clear. Black and white became gray, over and over again, as the mixture of stories about the horrors of the Taliban blended with the horrors of cluster bombs and bunker busters raining down on innocent men, women and children. Yet once again, amidst the blood and tears, hospitality and love were abundant. Wherever the delegation went, all were welcomed with open arms and whatever food and drink could be found. Jews, Christians, Muslims, and Buddhists, were honored guests in the rubble of homes, offices, mosques, and schools.
The delegation had been arranged by Global Exchange, a San Francisco human rights organization, and one of the requirements for going was that you had to promise to speak about the experience anywhere and everywhere you could for up to one year after returning. Craig and Derrick spoke in schools, libraries, community centers, churches, and on TV. Their two hour presentation included incredibly powerful stories and stunning photos as well as clear calls to action for ways to help the Afghan people and others caught up in war.
Video from Global Exchange covering 2002 Peace Delegation
On the day before the Iraq invasion in 2003, they were invited to speak at Palo Alto High School's "International Day." While most of the parents and teachers organizing that day wanted it to be completely upbeat, one teacher felt that the students needed a place to talk about and deal with the fact that the country was about to go to war again. Craig and Derrick shared the stories from Afghanistan and also talked about what was about to happen in Iraq. They filled two classrooms twice, with standing room only. The kids paid rapt attention and asked powerful questions.
After the second presentation, as Craig and Derrick were leaving, a young man came up to them to thank them for the presentation. He then said "I don't know what you two do for a living, but whatever it is you should stop. This is what you need to be doing. This is how kids like me need to learn about the world."
He walked away. As they put their stuff in the car to leave, they knew he was right and that they needed to change from being part-time peacemakers into full-time....... what? The idea for Reach And Teach was born.
Today, Reach And Teach creates and distributes books, games, puzzles, toys, curriculum, posters, music, DVDs, and other products that help to transform the world through teachable moments. Reach And Teach is a treasure hunter, searching the planet for that special something that mainstream bookstores won't promote. Whether the products come from a non-profit or a small publisher, we see our job as making sure that great content can be found under one virtual roof.
We're dedicated to helping parents, teachers, grandparents, community organizers, youth leaders, and all people, from infants to raging grannies, to know that they can make a difference in the world and to provide them with the tools to do so.
Co-founder Derrick Kikuchi is a graduate of UC Santa Barbara (BSEE/CS) and Stanford University (MSEE). As one of Hewlett-Packard's first firmware and software engineers, Derrick spent nearly two decades at HP, including HP Labs. Intrigued by emerging distance learning technologies in 1991, Derrick founded the HP Media Applications Learning Lab (MALL), helping the company move away from purely classroom education (Same Time, Same Place) to an Anytime, Anyplace paradigm. Derrick co-founded WK Multimedia Network Training in 1994, developing the first interactive e-Learning CD-ROM for 3Com Corporation. Derrick designed additional e-Learning for Cisco Systems, Hewlett-Packard, and IBM.
Derrick has been deeply involved in peace and social justice issues through his work as a Presbyterian Elder at the First Presbyterian Church of Palo Alto. He has been on the board of directors for Northern California Presbyterian Homes and the Council of Churches Santa Clara County. He was an editor for Open Hands, an ecumenical quarterly journal on LGBT inclusion in communities of faith. He has traveled to El Salvador, Mexico, and Afghanistan on peacemaking and solidarity delegations and often lectures on theology, church history, economic justice, and peacemaking.
Check out his blog justlists.wordpress.com which is a collection of interesting lists on a variety of social justice topics.
Co-founder Craig Wiesner is a graduate of the University of San Francisco with a degree in Organizational Behavior and Adult Learning. Craig also spent several semesters at San Jose State University in the (K-12 instructional media) Masters program. Craig spent eight years in the United States Air Force, developing and delivering foreign language education. Craig received a Joint Services Achievement Medal after his team redesigned a 47-week Korean course, resulting in a sharp rise in student retention and significant improvements in end-of-course language skills tests. Craig applied his expertise in education to the emerging computer networking industry, leading education departments for two Silicon Valley pioneers, Vitalink Communications and SynOptics (Nortel Networks). Craig was a co-founder of WK Multimedia Network Training, developing classroom and e-Learning courses for clients including industry leaders 3Com, Cisco, Hewlett-Packard, Lucent, Nortel Networks, and Packeteer.
Craig has been deeply involved in social and economic justice issues and the peace movement for the last 10 years. He is a member of the steering committee for Multifaith Voices for Peace and Justice, a Bay Area interfaith peace organization. Craig is a frequent contributor to the KQED radio perspective series and a prolific writer whose opinion writing has appeared in Tikkun Daily, CommonDreams.org, the Christian Science Monintor, and the letters sections of Newsweek, the NY Times, the San Francisco Chronicle and the San Jose Mercury News.
Senior Research Fellow And All-Around-Nice-Guy Drew Durham is first and foremost a human being with the same beautiful imperfections, complex and baffling ironies, and creative, original thoughts as we all have. In an effort to surmount the challenges of life, enjoys writing poetry, reading nonfiction, daydreaming, dreaming, and working for Reach and Teach, all while attending online grad school at San Jose State University for which he maintains a blog aptly titled a bard in the library!
Drew enjoys his life (most of the time) in all its challenges (disguised opportunities) and aims to reach out to as many people as he can, trying to help each person do their part to transform the world! Drew has special interest in helping others with library-based research and in helping solve the social problems of poverty and homelessness and is eager to contribute to Project IVY.
Reach And Teach was honored to be selected as two of the Palo Alto Media Centers Local Heroes in 2008. It gave us a great chance to share our story about the path that led us to form this company. Please watch this video to learn more about Reach and Teach...
Our Advisors consist of parents, clergy and other interfaith leaders, activists, teachers, university professors, psychologists, business professionals, and school administrators from across the United States. In order to ensure diversity of input, we've selected advisors from a broad range of schools including Title 1 schools, public schools in more affluent communities, charter schools and private schools. We are also advised by University Professors specializing in K-12 education as well as leaders within non-profit organizations with education as a component of their missions.
If you would like to be an educational advisor, please let us know!