At My Core, I’m a Teacher, Not a Businessman

I announced on Monday that I’m taking a full-time teaching job at Monument Academy. I start in August. I feel like I’m letting my self-employed friends down, sort of throwing in the towel. Let me explain how that is not the case.

Making it as a solo-preneur is no easy task. I’ve built up a sustainable business since leaving the corporate world in 2004. I didn’t get filthy rich, but I kept the bills paid and lived fairly well. Why leave?

Well, here’s why: I am a teacher. I’m love it, I have a vision for it, and I’m good at it. Let me tell you how this is impacting me.

I don’t talk about it too much, but I taught English from 1995 to 2000. I was employed in three different school districts in North Dakota and Minnesota. My first three years exposed me to academic debate (which I fell in love with), but the next two years left me quite bitter about teaching. I took a job in Fargo and was non-renewed (I suspect because of my faith, or because I was homeschooling my kids, not sure), then laid off in Moorhead after a financial scandal in my last year of teaching.

It wasn’t teaching that bothered me. It was the system. I was fairly good for a new teacher, and I left an impact on kids where I could. But the public school just wasn’t for me. So, I went into publishing, moved my growing homeschool family to Colorado to work for one of the biggest Christian publishers in the world, and began my new life.

I don’t regret any of this, but I do regret missing out on the charter school movement. It followed the beginning of the homeschool movement. I am delighted to see parents taking full control of their children’s education, homeschooling and charter schooling alike.

I wrote extensively about this when Wendy and I decided to put some of our children in a local charter school. I won’t belabor the point (you can read this article if you wish). Suffice it to say: I am a teacher and have desired to go back to it for some time.

Frankly, the life of a solo-preneur was a life like a retiree. Such living—called by some as “the new rich” (though I don’t want to fool you, I consider myself far from financially “rich”)—has its perks. I have been able to raise a large family, afford traveling all over the county and even the world, live on a six acre piece land…I could go on. But I began getting into bird feeders and sleeping way too much. Honestly, I was getting depressed.

About a year ago I started seeing “the new rich” concept as a red herring. You debaters know what a “red herring” is: an argument that strays you from the logical path. I became so wrapped up in business that I didn’t teach, coach, or care much for my customers. I let my local club go to the wayside and retire, I outsourced other coaches to coach my own kids, and I even was caught more than once saying, “I don’t like teaching.”

This isn’t true. Nothing honestly jazzes me up more than seeing kids succeed in competition, in the classroom, and in life. I’m very good at teaching and coaching. I have a solid understanding of what makes kids learn. I understand and appreciate a solid curriculum that teaches writing, literature and communication. The students that I have been privileged to personally coach have taken several titles from national tournaments.

Like this one. And this one. There could have been more, if I didn’t follow the red herring of the “new rich.”

Putting that criticism aside, these last few years I learned how to automate my business. It helped me sustain a living for my family so that I can teach full-time at Monument Academy. I can’t wait: I’m putting together a debate program that will be out of this world. And I’ll be teaching English, emphasis on writing, like nobody’s business. It will be awesome.

I’ll get into that later this summer, what the job actually is. But let me ask you: Do you identify? I have talked with many “new rich” friends my age, and several of them tend to get it. After much counsel and prayer, I decided to go back to work. I start in August.