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COVER STORY
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Rachelle Cracchiolo

Founder and CEO – Teacher Created Materials, Huntington Beach

OC METRO's Hot 25 for 2011Published: November 01, 2011

Status: Two adult daughters who work in the family business
Your proudest moment: Winning 3 Golden Lamp Awards in the last 10 years, the highest award given in educational publishing
Hot Factor: Rachelle Cracchiolo started a business to help teachers teach. Her kitchen-table venture grew into a company that industry experts value at $30 million.

When the orange phone rang at the Cracchiolo’s home, the children knew to play the “quiet game.” The orange phone was for clients of Rachelle Cracchiolo’s new book business aimed at helping teachers. Not all teachers – mostly those who weren’t artists at heart but had to come up with art ideas for their classes. The first book, sold with a partner, was a huge hit, and several books followed.
   
That was more than 30 years ago. Today, with her two daughters working alongside her, Teacher Created Materials has grown from a kitchen-table operation to thousands of teaching-aid products sold in 89 countries and in more than a dozen languages. According to industry estimates, the business is valued at $30 million.
   
Last year Cracchiolo was awarded the highest individual honor bestowed by the Association of Educational Publishers: She was inducted into its Hall of Fame.
   
One daughter, Corrine Burton, was a natural to work in the family business, because she was a teacher herself. But Deanna Mendoza, the other daughter, says she had a difficult time convincing her mother to hire her, even after she got a master’s degree.
   
“She said I needed more experience,” Mendoza says. “It wasn’t until I actually started teaching at USC that Rachelle (the daughters call their mother by her first name) decided I had enough experience.”
   
One of the company’s most successful ventures was a book that teaches algebra visually to students who fail in the subject.
   
“I think my mother’s success comes from her understanding of how tough it can be to teach,” Mendoza says, speaking for the business at her mother’s request. “Teachers seldom get the respect they deserve.” She adds, “I’m just so proud of my mom. ... All she wants to do is help teachers.”

Editor’s Note: To see who made our “Hot 25” lists in prior years, visit our Archives page.
   
And, we’re now on the hunt for exceptional women who are impacting O.C. If you know someone who deserves to be on our 20 Women to Watch list, please let us know at our Nominate page.