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How 1 founder – inspired by his grandfather – wants to change homeschooling forever

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How 1 founder — inspired by his grandfather — wants to change homeschooling forever

A user-friendly app is opening new pathways to access learning.

An image of two men standing next to each other on the left, while the right features a side profile of the younger man's face

A day in the life of Tyler Gay is pretty standard: Wake up, work, change his newborn’s diapers, have lunch, and … lead a groundbreaking initiative that can break down the barriers for individualized education

Gay is the founder of Haskel Education Network, an ingenious education initiative connecting families who want more education options with educators who provide them. 

Gay was homeschooled as a kid, so he knows from personal experience how much knowledge you can get from outside a traditional school. Now, he’s part of a growing movement of parents and educators providing that same experience to kids throughout the United States. 

The unlikely inspiration for Haskel Education Network

Gay’s inspiration to help people pursue a non-traditional education comes from a man who was one of the wisest persons he had ever met despite never finishing any formal education: His grandfather, Kenneth Haskel Gay. 

“He never officially finished fourth grade, but he was able to source his education through people that he knew through learning on the job or finding ways to learn things. He had a very passionate thirst for knowledge,” Gay says. 

“He was one of the most successful people I’ve known. The way my family looked up to him. The way the community looked up to him.” 

In addition to his personal experience in homeschooling, his grandfather’s story showed Gay how much knowledge and fulfillment people can get outside the traditional classroom.  

 

Haskel Education Network’s goal: make homeschooling easier 

Gay is not alone in knowing the value of non-traditional education.  

A picture of Tyler Gay with his grandfather in front of the U.S. Capitol building
Haskel Education Network gets its name from Kenneth Haskel Gay, left, the grandfather of Haskel Founder Tyler Gay, right.

Polls show parents want more autonomy and a student-centered approach to their child’s education. Most think they should have a bigger role in their child’s education. More than 70% of parents are interested in non-traditional education programs, and 79% think learning can and should happen everywhere. 

The good news is there is an entire ecosystem of educational programs for parents to choose from, and homeschooling is one option many families are selecting. 

“For a lot of families, the word homeschool brings these mental images of mom and dad at the kitchen table trying to teach Johnny everything, and that picture is pretty intimidating for a lot of folks,” Gay says. But things have shifted a lot. “Now, homeschooling is a term that many people use to include anything outside of the traditional public – or even private – school.”   

That said, it is still very challenging for parents entering the homeschool world to find educators and vice versa. 

As Gay explained, teachers advertise themselves using word of mouth or ad hoc Facebook groups. Neither of these options are very user-friendly for parents, nor do they help new teachers get a foothold in the market. 

“Teachers have very limited resources and zero in advertising budget,” Gay says. “They’re busy working on what they are good at, helping educate folks, and giving opportunities for folks to learn,” leaving them with little to no time to get people to know their work.   

Tyler felt the urge to do something to help. “I started looking through things, and I’m like, ‘What are some things we can do to help people, to get those barriers down?’”  

This was when Haskel Education Network was born.  

Haskel Education Network is born, a new platform for a new type of homeschooling 

A picture of Tyler Gay standing in front of a set of glass doors
Tyler Gay was homeschooled growing up. He founded Haskel Education Network so other students could pursue non-traditional education pathways.

The idea behind Haskel is simple: Make education as easy to find as other products. 

Tyler got much of his inspiration for Haskel from apps such as Yelp and Uber. 

Seeing how they completely changed the game in their industries, Tyler asked himself, “Can I do the same with education?” 

Tyler knew the answer was a resounding yes, and after encouragement from his wife he started Haskel Education Network. 

Haskel Education Network aims to redefine how we think about education by providing an easy-to-access, free-to-use platform that allows parents and teachers to connect and make individualized education a user-friendly experience. 

It’s a bottom-up solution to education. Instead of assigning teachers to parents, Haskel allows families to see what teachers are available and pick the best for their kids. 

For many educators, Haskel is a game-changer. Gay says one teacher using Haskel found it allowed parents and students nearby and far away to find the classes she offered. It prompted her to expand class offerings to accommodate their specific needs.  

It also goes beyond just homeschooling. The website helps those providing education options to advertise their services, from those offering traditional homeschooling and microschooling services, to hiking and dance instructors. 

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Next stop: Breaking education barriers in all 50 states 

A side profile of Tyler Gay's face
Tyler Gay’s Haskel Education Network seeks to connect learners and educators.

Although Haskel is still a very new initiative, it is aiming big. 

Currently, the platform has a big presence in East Tennessee. Still, Tyler wants to expand it to other states near the region to keep the momentum going. Tyler’s ambition is to make Haskel a national staple. On the site, teachers from all 50 states can connect with families nationwide. 

Haskel’s objective is to reach 500 users by next year and reach a 1,000-user milestone by summer 2025, in time for the start of the 2025-26 school year search. 

During its first few months, Haskel was a rudimentary website with few teachers. Today, Haskel is a VELA grant partner with a modern website that gives many entrepreneurial educators a chance to thrive. Ultimately, Tyler wants people to recognize the Haskel brand, so that whenever people see the logo, “they immediately know that’s a place they can go to learn something.” 

Tyler’s story shows us how social entrepreneurs are made. You don’t need a pool of gold or too much free time. You only need an idea, the urge to do something and initiative. 

Haskel Education Network is supported by the VELA Education Fund, which as part of the Stand Together community supports everyday entrepreneurs who are boldly reimagining education. 

Learn more about Stand Together’s education efforts and explore ways you can partner with us. 

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