Former Teach for America, Kauffman leaders launch education startup

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Posted: Wednesday, April 24, 2013 12:00 am

The five-person team at myEDmatch has locked in 100 schools in 17 states to pay for the chance to connect with teachers through the site.

Kansas City startup myEDmatch wants to remedy the educational equivalent of spending nights out at the bar hoping for a chance encounter with your soulmate.

Six months in, co-founders Alicia Herald and Munro Richardson possess lesson plans they believe will streamline the hiring process for K-12 teachers and administrators. Their idea: "online dating for education jobs."

Herald, the former executive director at Teach for America, turned to online dating while attending business school last year, and was impressed by its efficiency. She sent Richardson, then vice president of education at Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a 4 a.m. email last September about her idea for matching good-fit teachers with schools. He was leading the creation of the Ewing Marion Kauffman School, an urban college prep charter school in Kansas City, and had trouble finding the right teachers for the school's mission.

A day after the email, the two met for coffee, and three weeks after that both gave notice to their employers they would be leaving.

"What I loved about it was you literally could take what was proven in another industry and port it into K-12 education," Richardson said. "We built it to solve problems we already knew teachers and schools had."

Those problems are revealed in statistics Herald quotes, such as: 20 percent of teachers leave their classrooms at the end of the year, nearly 50 percent leave teaching before five years and principals spend up to 70 percent of their time in second semesters recruiting teachers. Teacher turnover costs U.S. schools more than $7 billion a year, according to the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future.

"We want to change the current thinking that teachers should be happy to get any job," Herald said.

With experience in the field, the two of them were able to quickly turn the research they had done over the years into a stable of personal metrics that help answer, "What school is right for me?" Richardson said.

On myEDmatch, job-seeking teachers and administrators can market themselves by creating a profile with the free service that identifies beliefs (right) like mission, culture and school environment, which creates a "Match Score" coinciding with job openings schools post to their profiles. In addition, teachers can share stories, lesson plans and videos.

For schools, myEDmatch offers a chance to highlight strengths, focuses and expectations while streamlining hiring to a standardized form that only puts best matches in front of them.

When searching, both schools and teachers can filter out results by a range of criteria, which is a stark contrast to current search tools, Richardson said. Google Search, Craigslist and job boards are by far the most widely used sources, he said.

The five-person team has locked in 100 schools in 17 states so far to pay for the chance to connect with teachers through the site, which is currently in beta testing. The goal is to bump from about 2,500 teachers currently signed up on the site to 25,000 in the next couple months as more look for jobs at the end of the year. This is a realistic number, Richard said, which comes from about 250,000 who will be looking for a job or thinking of leaving the profession and about 150,000 new teachers entering the field.

The startup has received $150,000 in its seed round, which was finalized in February, and is currently working to close an additional $100,000. The investors also make up their advisory board, which includes Build-A-Bear founder Maxine Clark, Freightquote CEO Tim Barton and Barkley president Dan Fromm.

"In terms of solving the pain point of finding a good-fit teaching job, there isn't anything there," Richardson said. "If it was, I'd still be at Kauffman and Alicia would be at Teach for America."

Here's a promotional video from the company providing an overview of myEDmatch:


Credits: Screenshots and video from myEDmatch's website. Alicia Herald and Munro Richardson from LinkedIn.

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