Tom was born in Queens, New York and grew up on Long Island where he attended public schools, graduating from West Babylon High School. After a stint in music school as a vocal performance major, Tom attended Fordham University in Manhattan where he majored in philosophy and English. During his studies at Fordham, he worked as a production manager at Jazz at Lincoln Center supporting the rehearsals and performances of the jazz ensemble. It is there that Tom met Wynton Marsalis, whose approach to leading his jazz orchestra and commitment to music education was a primary reason Tom turned his attention to education as a profession.
Upon graduating summa cum laude from Fordham with departmental honors in philosophy, Tom enrolled in the English Education program at Teachers College, Columbia University for his MA in the Teaching of English and state certification. Tom’s first class at Teachers College was a one-on-one tutorial with education philosopher Maxine Greene, an experience that profoundly impacted the kind of educator Tom would later become. After completing his course of study, Tom was hired at the NYC Lab School, where he taught mostly 9th grade and 12th grade English, integrating various kinds of technology and media production into his classroom: the recording of literary criticism rap albums, remixing presidential speech recordings to convey socio-historical analyses, and the filming of modern Shakespeare adaptations.
After six years at Lab, Tom joined the newly forming Innovation Zone (iZone) team at the city’s Central offices. In that role, Tom supported the development of a program called iLearnNYC, which offered online courses to public schools, eventually becoming the program’s Director of Implementation responsible for 120 schools and ten implementation managers. It was in this role that Tom began learning more deeply about complex digital product builds, often translating the needs of education teams to technical teams.
After completing his doctorate at Teachers College, Columbia University, Tom joined the faculty at Pace University in 2012 as a professor of educational technology. There, he taught classes in adolescent literacy, educational technology, K-12 computer science, and education foundations. His research was published in journals like Research in the Teaching of English, The Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, and the Berkeley Review of Education. In 2019, Tom received the National Technology Leadership Initiative Award from the Digital Literacies in Teacher Education Commission of the National Council of Teachers of English for his efforts to bring computational methods to secondary English teacher preparation.
Tom has consulted with a wide range of educational organizations over the years, most recently spending hundreds of hours in the city’s struggling middle schools supporting literacy teams and school leaders fortify curricula, instruction, and digital technologies. He also architected and drove the initial implementation of WeTeachNYC, New York City’s digital resource repository and blended learning platform for its 80,000 teachers, helping secure $6.8M in philanthropic funding.
Currently, Tom serves as editor in chief of InsideSchools and education policy director at The Center for NYC Affairs at The New School.
Tom lives in The Bronx with his wife, Kerry, and their son.