On Track with Andrea Leib '01
The shrill sound of motorcycles revving their engines doesn’t pierce
her ears. Dirt flying through the air doesn’t choke her. She thinks
nothing of getting a little mud on her face.
Her tiny frame dressed in jeans, boots, and a tank top, Andrea
Leib ’01 straps on a helmet and jumps into her RZR Side-by-Side off-road
vehicle to take laps. Right behind her is grown son, Michael—looking
much like a Star Wars storm trooper in his motocross gear—heading out
for a 40-minute “moto” practice. Her husband, Don, has just fine-tuned
Michael’s bike and heads over to coach his racer son.
For Andrea Leib and her family, the motocross track is home,
office, and classroom. Over the past decade, motocross has been the
chosen life of the Leib men—Michael in pursuit of a professional
motocross racing career and Don as Michael’s manager, with careers at
the track in motocross advertising design and as founder and CEO of
Motocross was not, however, the chosen life of Andrea, who had
been pursuing a career in education. But she made a decision to support
her son’s career and in that process she unexpectedly discovered her
Andrea envisioned a career as a traditional classroom teacher
when she earned her undergraduate degree and teaching credential at Kean
University in New Jersey. Once in California, her hopes for a permanent
teaching position were dashed when she learned she needed more credits
to teach in the state.
“I thought if I needed to go back to school I wasn’t just going
to take a few classes,” said Andrea, who discovered the University of
Redlands online. “I entered into the master’s program in education with a
focus on educational counseling, and it was the best decision I ever
Meanwhile, then fifth-grader Michael was becoming a serious
competitor on the amateur motocross circuit. This was a game changer for
“When Don first put Michael on a motorcycle, I never imagined
it would leave the backyard,” Andrea said. “When you sign up for
t-ball, you know you’ll just be going to the local park. But when you
sign up for motocross? It takes you to Tennessee, Florida, and
Oklahoma—all over the country.”
Michael needed to train, travel, and get his education. Don’s
solution was for Andrea to homeschool their son and their older
daughter, Ali, who was then in eighth grade.
“Andrea thought I was nuts,” he says.
“It was something I had no interest in,” Andrea says. “I knew
people who were homeschooling and I wasn’t sure how much actual
‘schooling’ was going on.”
Despite her doubts, Andrea made it her mission to ensure a
first-class education for both Michael and Ali. She enrolled them in a
free charter program for one year as an experiment. It wasn’t long
before friends at the track sought Andrea’s help for their children.
“I started putting flyers on motorhomes at races, knowing
these kids were there with an amount of work that just wasn’t fair. At
races, I would go over to the announcer, tell everyone I was there and
have people sign up,” she says. “It evolved into something I never
thought possible. I started tutoring students at the track, helping them
get through their homework while they were training, competing, and
Andrea says she soon knew she didn’t just want a tutoring service at the track.
“I knew this was a school I was going to build.”
Trial and error took Andrea from tutor to teacher to founder of
On Track Custom Learning Solutions. The private distance learning school
is just what the name suggests—customized learning that fits the
“Some of my students are at the track four to five hours a
day, come home and maintain their bike, work out, take a shower and by
the time they eat dinner it is 7 p.m. They don’t have time for five
hours of study.”
The need was especially apparent to Andrea.
“We live this life,” she says. “We understand these racers
are athletes—serious and dedicated. It is difficult to compete, and the
traveling can be brutal.”
Michael now races professionally around the world.
“Going to school and constantly falling behind wasn’t cutting
it, although neither was growing up without an education,” he says.
“Being able to do both made it possible for me to become a professional
racer and chase my dreams all at the same time. It’s been inspiring to
watch my mom chase her dreams, too.”
Potential On Track students discover the program through word
of mouth, online, or at a race. Andrea walks them through the
enrollment process and assesses their educational needs.
“If traditional school is working for a student, there is no
reason to stop doing what works. On Track is for the racer, the athlete,
the musician or any other student who finds traditional isn’t working,”
Former motocross racer Sara Price discovered On Track when she was getting serious about racing.
“I was able to take my school on the road, train and work hard with my racing to make my dreams come true,” Price says.
About 70 students like Sara have graduated from On Track, which
now has seven home coaches who connect with the students through
texting, Skype, email, and a virtual classroom.
Students are responsible for about three hours of work daily
and for communicating with their coaches. The curriculum is built to
state standards, and the school was recently accredited by AdvancED.
Andrea now serves mostly as administrator of the school but
teaches electives during the summer. She credits her time at Redlands
for allowing her to conceive and seize the opportunity to start On
“If I had never gone back to school at Redlands to get my
master’s, I don’t know if I would have thought up this idea or had the
confidence to execute it.”
Written by: Jennifer M. Dobbs