After teaching in New Orleans for just one week, Tom Hayes experienced a personal uproot and a change in the New Orleans education system due to Hurricane Katrina. After helping out and working for FEMA for some time, Tom began working for Teach for America once the schools were open again.
Fast forward a few years. Tom has now experienced first hand the shortcomings in the school system and come up with a way to make them better. He founded Haystack EDU to connect educators to learning institutions. Think of it like Match.com for education purposes.
Tom founded the company with the idea that it can be the talent hub for the 21st century teachers and schools. This past summer, he participated in a month long 4.0 schools program which helped launch the company.
With a passion for education, Tom is interested in combining two things: the importance of human capital and the notion of the promise of technology. He hopes technology will help personalize learning for students. Technology has the potential to be an enabler of the new learning models beginning to develop.
After speaking with Tom, he said, “ [my] ultimate belief is that we teachers are professionals and should be treated as such…” We should, “provide them the opportunity to really distinguish themselves and to find greatest possible opportunities.”
Haystack EDU’s platform will help replace more traditional methods of teacher placement such as job boards and headhunter organizations.
So far, the company has placed a number of teachers mid-year. Within six months, Tom expects a successful placement season to be completed in both New Orleans and Chicago with additional goals of getting 5,000 teachers registered and 150 schools actively using the site.
Haystack EDU will participate in this year’s New Orleans Entrepreneur Week, pitching at both an angel pitch and the education pitch throughout the week. Alongside 42 other startups, Tom hopes to raise enough funding to keep his dream going.
As for technology helping or hurting the education system, Tom said, “As we work to implement technology, we need to think about it in terms of how it will also impact social development. There is a big drive towards achievement based thinking, hitting standards, and being successful academically. We need to think about social development and becoming a good citizen and tech should enable us to do it even better.”
The site will be launched within the next week or two. Keep a lookout for another announcement and visit HaystackEDU.com to learn more and register.