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Idaho teacher Brooks Hill didn’t grow up dreaming of becoming a teacher. In fact, after graduating college in 2011, he had no idea what field to enter for his career. Certainly, after moving from Utah to Arizona to Boise, Idaho, he didn’t know he would soon find his place teaching in a virtual school.

Why Teaching?

With a communications and history degree, Brooks bounced from job to job after college. He interned, tried sales, and then managed a soccer store. But none of these positions felt right to Brooks, and knowing that freedom in the summer is a priority for him, some of the jobs felt stifling with their intensive summer hours. Brooks explains, “my career was in a rut in my late 20s. I needed to pick a field I could make a career out of.”

He continues, “my Grandma always said I’d be good at teaching and I trusted her insight because she had been a teacher for more than 30 years.” Up front, Brooks worried he wouldn’t be great with kids, so he turned to substitute teaching. Through that experience, he learned that he had something to offer students, particularly the older kids he was able to better relate to. As is often the case with grandmothers, Brooks’s grandma was right, and he was glad he had given teaching a try. There, Brooks has found his place. And with it, the flexibility and freedom he desired.

Teaching in a Virtual School

Brooks is now entering his third year as a full-time teacher. Interestingly, Brooks’s class didn’t experience too much chaos when the COVID-19 pandemic hit because he was already teaching online. He teaches at one of many virtual charter schools in Idaho, one with a 16-year history of success.

Because of the strong reputation of the virtual charter school where he works, it was one of the first to experience an influx of students when traditional schools sent students home due to COVID. While most schools struggled to navigate remote teaching, Brooks and his peers were well prepared to meet students’ needs. And of course, with more students, Brooks and his peers received a higher salary which is noteworthy given frequent conversations about teacher pay.

Facilitating Learning

But it wasn’t completely smooth sailing for Brooks over the past year. In fact, he has had to rewrite a couple courses to meet the needs of his students. In particular, he took one class from being rooted in students’ short answer homework to being more rooted in multiple choice. This allowed him to maintain a level of rigor in the course while also ensuring he had time to review each student’s submissions. Brooks explains, “part of teaching in general is making changes to facilitate your students’ learning while holding them to a certain standard. At a charter school we aren’t beholden to a state curriculum, but it still needs to be a high-quality education.”

U.S. and world history is a bit of a contentious topic these days, and Brooks certainly feels the weight of his role. Daily, he works to provide students with the facts while allowing them to reach their own conclusions. Brooks says “if I can get students to see both sides of something before they form their own opinions, I’m happy with that.”

Idaho teacher and American Board graduate Brooks Hill balances his role as a virtual school teacher with his love of the outdoors.

Not Just a Job, a Career

Listening to Brooks speak about his class, it’s clear he has found is place. When asked what he loves about teaching, Brooks echos the sentiment of many teachers. He says, “when struggling students turn it around and pass the course; making a difference in a student’s life is pretty amazing.”

When asked specifically about the benefits of teaching in a virtual school, Brooks explains that it is the freedom and flexibility that seals the deal for him. His appreciation for scheduling flexibility is evident by the fact you can often find him enjoying afternoon bike rides or trips down the ski slope. He’s able to balance his love of the outdoors with his classes and office hours. But it’s not all fun and games for Brooks. He understands the weight of his role as a teacher and explains “I’m not going to pass a student just because they show up. They have to do the work, reading, engage in content.”

Why American Board Teacher Certification?

When Brooks decided to pursue teaching, he knew American Board’s online teacher certification program was right for him. The program came recommended by a friend, and didn’t require Brooks to go back to college for additional education courses. In fact, Brooks was able to complete all American Board requirements and receive his teaching certificate in just a few months!

Given Brooks’s distinguished performance in American Board’s program, it is obvious he has a real knack for teaching. He does say, however, that American Board’s program was particularly helpful for him when it comes to communication. Teaching in a virtual school, classroom management and similar teacher skills aren’t an issue for him. But through American Board’s program he learned the best way to communicate with students, parents, and his teacher peers. Fortunately, Brooks is now able to share his deep understanding of US and World history with students each day.

If you’ve considered a career in education, click here to learn how you can become a teacher, quickly and affordably. Additionally, you can visit American Board’s Youtube page to hear directly from teacher graduates about their experiences.

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