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New program to allow for college grad­uates who lack public edu­cation cer­ti­fi­cation but want to teach at public schools. Pexels | Courtesy

Michigan public and charter schools could not hire even one graduate of Hillsdale College’s clas­sical or early childhood edu­cation pro­grams this past spring. That’s about to change.

As Michigan edu­cation policy man­dates, teachers must earn their cer­ti­fi­cation from the state to work at any public or charter school. Hillsdale’s edu­cation pro­grams do not facil­itate stu­dents’ state cer­ti­fi­cation as of 2009, so grad­uates in search of teaching jobs in Michigan look to private insti­tu­tions. But the Michigan Department of Edu­cation approved a new program in August, Michigan Teachers of Tomorrow, which offers a solution to college grad­uates who want to teach in public insti­tu­tions but lack the cer­ti­fi­cation.

“It is absolutely pos­sible for a Hillsdale College graduate to finish college in May and enter into the classroom by August as the teacher of record if they are deter­mined to do so,” Teachers of Tomorrow Michigan Program Director Robert Brooks said in an email.

Michigan Teachers of Tomorrow is an alter­native cer­ti­fi­cation program provider through which college grad­uates earn an Interim Teaching Cer­tificate after com­pleting more than 300 hours of online coursework, according to its website.

When stu­dents emerge from tra­di­tional teacher prepa­ration pro­grams, like the ones Michigan State Uni­versity and the Uni­versity of Michigan run, the state grants them a pro­vi­sional teaching cer­tificate. Hillsdale once offered the same kind of program, but three people handled the same amount of paperwork and admin­is­trative tasks entire teams dealt with at bigger schools. When the Department of Edu­cation increased its expec­ta­tions, Hillsdale’s edu­cation department dis­con­tinued the program.

“What Teachers of Tomorrow does is it adds another layer below the pro­vi­sional, and it’s called an interim cer­ti­fi­cation,” said Dan Cou­pland, edu­cation department chairman and dean of faculty.

The interim cer­tificate is valid for three years. Other than a shorter period of validity, no dif­fer­ences exist between the two cer­tifi­cates.

“To a local school dis­trict, it doesn’t matter,” Cou­pland said. “All teachers need is some kind of a cer­ti­fi­cation, whether it’s interim, pro­vi­sional, or pro­fes­sional.”

Michigan Teachers of Tomorrow would make a career in public edu­cation pos­sible for any grad­u­ating senior, if the program accepts them. Although most Hillsdale stu­dents elect to pursue jobs in clas­sical schools, Cou­pland said, a few con­sider public edu­cation.

“Most people who come to Hillsdale and graduate from Hillsdale want to be involved in the same kind of thing,” he said. “They came to Hillsdale for a liberal-arts edu­cation, so I’d imagine they want to provide that kind of edu­cation in their own class­rooms, and so they go to a clas­sical school.”

To gain admission into Michigan Teachers of Tomorrow, can­di­dates must have grad­uated from college with a GPA of 2.95 or higher, passed a subject-area exam rel­evant to the field they wish to teach, and taken any Michigan basic skills test such as the ACT or SAT, according to Brooks.

The program does not require its appli­cants to have earned any type of degree in edu­cation, though Brooks said any prior study of edu­cation will help new teachers as they enter the classroom.

“If a student com­pletes the clas­sical edu­cation minor at Hillsdale, that would help out the student to ini­tially get started with our program,” Brooks said. “That student will be very familiar with our initial online Classroom Readiness training, and they will be able to get through that training quite quickly with that knowledge they already possess.”

Hillsdale’s clas­sical edu­cation minor bases itself in the seven clas­sical liberal arts and the phi­losophy of edu­cation. Some stu­dents also com­plete the Liberal Arts Teacher Appren­ticeship, which gives them hands-on expe­rience in local class­rooms.

“Stu­dents with past expe­rience tend to be more com­fortable with the coursework and are already accli­mated to a lot of the material that we will cover with them as well so every­thing is a smoother tran­sition for the can­didate,” Brooks said.

Reg­istrar Douglas McArthur used to serve as the college’s teacher cer­ti­fi­cation officer when Hillsdale offered the cer­ti­fi­cation program.

“On the pos­itive, these pro­grams appear to be less costly and less admin­is­tra­tively bur­densome for par­tic­i­pants,” McArthur said.

The program costs about $5,500, a price par­tic­i­pants pay off over the course of 15 months.

“On the neg­ative, these pro­grams don’t result in a graduate degree, as many post-bac­calau­reate pro­grams from tra­di­tional col­leges and uni­ver­sities do,” McArthur said. “Finally, pro­grams like T of T are subject to the chal­lenges of any new thing, and their track record of effec­tiveness and effi­ciency is still being estab­lished and eval­uated.”

Stu­dents inter­ested in Michigan Teachers of Tomorrow can visit https://michigan.teachersoftomorrow.org  or call 866 – 411-076 for more infor­mation.

  • Andy Losik

    This great to see. I am glad there is once a path for Hillsdale grads into public edu­cation. I was deeply dis­ap­pointed when the cir­cum­stances led Hillsdale to decide it would no longer certify teachers for public edu­cation. As a veteran public school teacher of 24 years I can not tell you how excited I am to once again welcome fellow Hillsdale grad­uates into the field.