Hillsdale grad­uates are now going through the process of applying to and studying with Teachers for Tomorrow, a teacher cer­ti­fi­cation program helping prospective teachers obtain their cer­ti­fi­cation. Pexels

This time last year, aspiring teachers in the 2018 Hillsdale College grad­u­ating class would have had a dif­ficult time finding work. But Teachers for Tomorrow has changed that.

Sonja Bindus, head of early childhood edu­cation and director of the Mary Randall Preschool, is guiding stu­dents through the process of applying to and studying with Teachers for Tomorrow, a teacher cer­ti­fi­cation program helping prospective teachers obtain their cer­ti­fi­cation. Teachers for Tomorrow was approved in Michigan in August 2017.

“This program expe­dites the cer­ti­fi­cation process for teacher can­di­dates and pro­vides school dis­tricts with qual­ified teachers,” Bindus said in an email. “After the teacher has been hired, Teachers for Tomorrow con­tinues pro­fes­sional support and edu­cation for three years while the can­didate is working in a classroom.”

The program costs $5,500 and is offered online, Bindus said. It also requires a bachelor’s degree and a minimum GPA of 2.95. Teachers of Tomorrow operates in 11 states: Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Michigan, Nevada, North Car­olina, South Car­olina and Texas, with tem­porary oper­ation in Ohio, Vir­ginia and Cal­i­fornia according to Bindus.

Fourth-grade teacher Erin Wonders ’18 com­pleted the program and gave an infor­ma­tional speech about her expe­rience in early November. The program helps grad­uates what she called the “social aspects” of teaching, like classroom man­agement. Wonders said the program is flexible, with coursework for the program com­pleted online and taking just under 100 hours in total.

The program is flexible in other ways, too.

“You can start applying for jobs the second you get accepted into the program,” Wonders said.

Although Hillsdale College has an edu­cation program, it does not include the cer­ti­fi­cation needed to be allowed to teach in many public schools. Because of this, many grad­uates end up teaching at a private or charter school.

“These schools — mostly private and charter clas­sical schools — want Hillsdale College stu­dents because they are broadly edu­cated (the core cur­riculum), they know their content (chal­lenging majors and minors), and they have a dis­po­sition to serve,” said Daniel Cou­pland, chairman of edu­cation, in an email. “That said, some of our grad­uates want to work in schools — mostly tra­di­tional public schools — that require state cer­ti­fi­cation.”

Maria Theisen ’18 was one graduate who did not obtain a teaching cer­ti­fi­cation. Because most public schools require a cer­ti­fi­cation to teach, she said, it made searching for a job more dif­ficult

“My job search involved many nights scouring LinkedIn for job appli­ca­tions that did not require a teaching cer­tificate,” Theisen said in an email. “I heavily relied on the Clas­sical Schools Job Fair, as well as Hand­shake, as I knew those schools were familiar with Hillsdale stu­dents and their lack of cer­ti­fi­cation.”

And although Hillsdale gave her a good edu­cation, Theisen spent most of the summer after grad­u­ation studying teaching tech­niques.

“Being an English major taught me the lessons I wanted to teach, but did not provide me lessons in classroom man­agement, cur­riculum devel­opment, and other ele­ments that being a teacher requires beyond teaching each day,” Theisen said.

Teachers for Tomorrow help fill in the gaps for stu­dents.

“The only cer­ti­fi­cation option in the state of Michigan until recently was to com­plete a post-bac­calau­reate cer­ti­fi­cation program (some­times known as an “alter­native” cer­ti­fi­cation program),” Cou­pland said.

But these pro­grams can take up to two years to com­plete and be fairly expensive, Cou­pland said.

“With focus and ded­i­cation, a Hillsdale student can now graduate in May and have state cer­ti­fi­cation by the start of the school year in August,” Cou­pland said.