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  • Tim Lieber

I dropped out of my teaching certification program with one semester left. Here's Why...

Updated: Jul 28, 2023

This introductory blog post explains who I am and where I came from. This is the generalized short version of my story, I hope you join me as I fill in the details!

There are many problems with our schools but going through the system and the university education program gave me an insider perspective on what is going wrong, and it’s way worse than you think.

I'm one of the lucky people who had their lives changed by a great teacher.

Growing up in a broken home with big issues it was difficult for me to find consistency. I had one set of rules at Mom's house, and another completely different set of rules at Dad's. They were at odds with each other, and I was mostly stuck in the middle. No hard feelings though.

At the beginning of ninth grade, I was a new kid at a new school. I quickly found a new home in the band room, under the direction of my high school band teacher. After a rocky first few months I dedicated myself to become a better musician. I'm glad I did; my band director quickly became the stability my life always lacked. There is a large part of my conscience that still sounds exactly like her, especially when I'm about to do something I know is wrong.

I'll iron out the lessons I learned from her later, just know she has had a major impact on who I am and I'm glad that she's still there today if I ever need guidance.

Life after college

Several years after graduating from college and as a newlywed, I was looking for my purpose in life. I had tried and failed at many careers, businesses, fields, and ways to make a living doing something important. After much turmoil and deliberation, I decided to become a teacher. Substitute teaching was the only job I ever genuinely enjoyed, and I figured if I could make it there, I could make it anywhere. I called my Alma Mater, Grand Valley State University, and re-enrolled for the Fall semester of 2019.

They have a program called the Graduate Teacher Certification Program, or GTC, where anyone with a bachelor’s degree and a teachable major can earn a teaching license within a one-year graduate program. My first major hurdle was the teachable major. My first degree was in Film and Video Production and I wanted to teach social studies, no none of those classes overlapped. It was going to take three years to get my teaching license. Two to get my teachable major, and one doing the GTC program, which largely consisted of student teaching. Luckily by the time I was finished I would only be a few classes away from having a Master’s Degreee.

In my time between graduating college and signing up to become a teacher my life went through a drastic transformation. I went from a young and naïve college student to a married young adult, complete with the responsibilities you would expect. My worldview changed drastically after college. I became a Christian and significantly more conservative. No more late nights stumbling home drunk after hanging out at the bar with my friends, much more volunteering at church and spending time with my wife.

One of my hopes was to have the opportunity for my future students to understand the lessons I had learned and why my life was measurably better with a more conservative lifestyle. Not to indoctrinate them to vote Republican, but to at least act as an example of someone who understands that they are in control of their destiny, and hard work and responsibility still pays off in America today.

Back to school

The school year had started. I’ve always been good at school. I like the structure. I see it as a game. Show up, do the work, write the papers. Note taking was never something I ever did or worried about, I just remembered the material, at least just long enough to ace the test.

I was signed up for a bevy of social studies classes. Geography, economics, world history, American history, and global politics. Leading up to the first days of school I was so excited! I was going to dive in, read as much as I could, absorb everything! Make friends with all my professors who I was certain would be my new mentors.

Then classes started and reality hit me. Hard.

I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in 2015. There was always a liberal bias to the material, but at this point these professors had lost their freaking minds. The 2016 election and Donald Trump becoming the president broke these people and turned their classrooms into a full-blown Liberal Land Looney Tunes circus.

I signed up for a Geography class. I was given a “The World is Going to End in 12 years from Climate Change” class.

I signed up for an American History class. I was given a “Why White People Ruin Everything” class.

You get the idea. I’ll go into the details of the clown show in later posts: it’s remarkably entertaining!

Disappointment and preposterous rage took away the hope and optimism I had just a few weeks before. But I wasn’t going to let these unremarkable partisan professors get the best of me. Depending on the class and how insane the Professor was, I would challenge, ask questions, give alternative viewpoints, and do my best to uphold my Christian conservative values the best I could. Some professors wouldn’t allow that, so I instead wrote nonsense that I called “Democratic Party Fanfiction” just to shut them up and get my A and move on with my life.

Worked every time.

Coronavirus and the 2020 Election made the whole thing much worse, but I was almost finished with my program – student teaching was just around the corner! By this time in life, my wife and I had two kids, and I was working mornings at UPS to pay for tuition, which was good because it also gave us unbelievably good health insurance for our growing family. We also bought a house and moved out of the city and into a more rural area.

Finally, the time had come.

Student teaching

I aced my Michigan Teacher Test for Certification exam on my first try and was placed at our local high school for Student Teaching. I had been given two “mentor teachers” for my placement. The first semester of student teaching I had to be there for the second half of the day five days a week. No problem! I just withstood two years of liberal clown world, and I was in my new conservative leaning small town, I was so excited to meet my new students and become a fixture in the community!

Before long disappointment and preposterous rage took away the hope and optimism I had just a few weeks before. Student teaching was even worse than the Liberal Land College Campus! The lockdowns destroyed any shred of normality these students deserved. Things were insane! The students had lost all respect for their teachers, academic rigor took a backseat to packets and open note quizzes, and I have never met a whinier group of complaining grouches than those teachers who had to get out of their pajamas and go back to work full time.

I’m going to digress for a moment to say that there are many sincerely amazing teachers out there doing the best they can within our public school system, but the system itself creates and perpetuates mediocrity. I’ll be getting into this later in this blog, but please know that I am not against good teachers, they are unfortunately too few and far between in the backwards government-ran institution we call the public school system.

Student teaching was rough. I did not realize the extent that the lockdowns and inconsistency decimated the student’s education. The big cloud over the whole experience was the nobody cared. The principal at the school didn’t care. My so called “mentor teachers” didn’t care, and everybody just phoned it in until the end of the school day. Students were given three days of school time to complete packets that would have taken twenty minutes if they would have focused on completed them. My “mentor teachers” used old and outdated slideshows they created during the Bush administration to teach from, and the students just copied them down word for word instead of listening or learning.

It was a joke. Actually, it wasn’t - jokes are supposed to be funny and this was downright pathetic. Keep in mind this was the school in the town where I live: I’m supposed to send my kids here. Day after day I became more bitter and upset, lots of drama and stupid situations occurred that deserve their own blogs, you won’t believe the nonsense that occurred in these classrooms. I couldn’t take it anymore. I knew there had to be a better way to teach to kids to love learning. There had to be an alternative.

During my day job at UPS I have plenty of freedom to listen to content on my phone, so I almost exclusively listen to podcasts and audiobooks. I was listening to a podcast and the host boldly proclaims to pull your kids out of the public school system and to homeschool instead. He said that his kids were in the middle of reading Huckleberry Finn, and that they were in the process of building a raft in their backyard. I thought that sounded like the coolest thing in the world.

Unexpected opportunity

The only experience I had with homeschoolers was one family I knew about fifteen years ago, and their kids grew up to be weird. Super weird. If there was a stereotypical viewpoint to have against the homeschooled that was my position. No social skills, doing math, science, and social studies in the basement, and not knowing anything because how can you learn without a teacher. Then I read some books and did my own research. My mind was changed quickly as I began to see homeschool as a potential solution to my kid’s school!

Looking for more information I googled “Homeschool near me” and a website popped up for a site called “REACH” which stood for “Reliable Educators and Community-focused Homeschoolers”. It was this thing I had never heard of before called a Homeschool Co-op. Essentially, it’s a school that meets once a week that is ran by parents. I emailed them for more information and scheduled an in-person visit with my wife.

From the second my wife and I walked through those doors I knew that this was the place I knew had to exist somewhere. There were dozens of kids quietly sitting, socializing, working, or playing throughout the building. Everybody was dressed appropriately, nobody had masks on, the kids all looked well-adjusted and happy. After years at Liberal Loony Tune College and months at the depressing government High School I had finally felt sanity for the first time in God only knows how long! This is what I’ve been looking for.

One problem,

I had just spend the better part of three years, about twenty thousand dollars, and copious hours getting my teaching license to work for a public school. I was so close to being done I could practically taste it, although after seeing the co-op the public school tasted wretched. The following semester would be my full-time student teaching. I would have to rearrange my whole life, my

job, time with my wife and kids, and my sanity to sacrifice for something that I didn’t even want anymore. I had the chance to work at a place where I could be free to share my values, teach what I wanted, how I wanted, and as deep as I wanted, or continue down the path of mediocrity with people who legitimately hate my values.

It wasn’t a hard choice, I just had to be sure I was ready to live with the consequences.

With only twelve weeks left of school I dropped out of the teaching certification program I had spent the last three years working hard to get through. It turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Last year was my first year teaching at the co-op. I taught geography, video production, and a technology class – it was amazing! The content, the students, the parents, the freedom, everything!

What's next?

With this blog, my YouTube channel, and other forms my mission is to spread the message of the surprises of homeschooling, shed light on the degradation of the public school system, and share my beliefs on why our education system is going to get a whole lot worse before it gets any better. Buckle up, because I sat through three years of nonsense working towards my education degree only have God pick me up and place me where he wanted to be all along. I’ve seen how the sausage is made and it ain’t pretty. There are many problems with our schools but going through the system and the university education program gave me an insider perspective on what is going wrong, and it’s way worse than you think.


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