SCA Ed Intern Grace Worm on Traveling the Nation for Education
Grace Worm is currently an SCA Education Intern and AmeriCorps member at Canyonlands National Park in Utah. She’s also featured in a documentary premiering later today at SXSW in Austin, Texas. Last summer, Grace traveled the US in a green RV for Roadtrip Nation and spoke with a educators about what it means to be a teacher. That, in fact, is what led her to SCA. Here’s Grace story, in her own words:
What was I going to do? Graduation was looming ahead of me, and I had no idea what I was going to do next. This story is familiar, as many graduates struggle through obtaining a degree only to reach the finish line and find out that they have no idea what they want to do with their lives. I was, perhaps, a little different. I had known since high school that I wanted to be a teacher, and through student teaching and my own education studies in college, my love for teaching never waned. Yet, as I was reaching the end of my fabulous UTeach program at University of Texas, I looked around at my fellow classmates all excitedly interviewing or accepting teaching positions, and I felt completely lost. I knew I wanted to be a teacher but I also knew that I wasn’t destined to be a traditional teacher. But what other types of teachers were there?
Perhaps, I should explain. I think the job that classroom teachers do has to be, hands down, one of the absolute most important jobs. Teaching in a classroom is incredibly difficult, taxing, rewarding, and inspiring. My father was a military man (go, Army), so my family and I spent all of my childhood moving all over the world: Hawaii, D.C., west and coastal Texas, Tennessee, Thailand, Virginia, California, etc. I guess you could say that I grew up pretty spoiled, visiting and living in incredible places where my parents fostered a fierce love and respect for the natural world. It made me adaptable and resourceful and exposed me to many different cultures and schools. So while my classmates were perfectly happy accepting full-time teaching jobs in one spot for many years to come, I was already looking for a way to be an educator while staying true to my wandering bones.
The email came from my mom and was titled “YOU HAVE TO DO THIS” in all caps with a link to Roadtrip Nation’s webpage. I had never heard of Roadtrip Nation but after reading the words, “Travel in an RV across the US” and “Education” I was already sold. After several rounds of applications, I was one of three of the luckiest future educators in America. Last summer I hit the road with two other roadtrippers, two filmers, and a huge green RV. Our mission was to travel across the United States, interviewing amazing educators from all different fields and backgrounds to help broaden the view of what it means to be an educator.
We interviewed principals, website creators, mayors, improve artists, video game designers, the Secretary of Education, of course, teachers, and so many more kinds of educators. I don’t mind telling you, my mind was blown.
Here I was, a certified teacher, with more than four years of study in education and there were types of educators I could have never imagined that were out there, changing the world through teaching. One teacher in particular affected me personally very strongly and changed the course of my life.
Under the tall trees of Yosemite National Park I met Indira Puhkan, an outdoor educator for NaturalBridges. I couldn’t even speak to the cameras when I walked away from the interview. In one hour, I went from not knowing there was such a thing as an outdoor educator to knowing that I absolutely had to be one. Although I continued to be amazed throughout the rest of the roadtrip, in the back of my mind I remembered that quiet outdoor interview in Yosemite, and talking with the children who came great distances just to learn in Yosemite National Park.
I am lucky because this is a dream that I get to fulfill. I am currently a SCA Education Intern at Canyonlands National Park in Utah where I get to be the kind of teacher I never knew existed less than a year ago. I am so fortunate to work with my fellow Rangers, taking children in our area on wonderful fieldtrips to the National Parks here and helping teach the same love I found when I was child visiting the natural wonders of this world. This March when the documentary film, The Road to Teach from the Roadtrip is released at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Festival, I’ll be able to visit with some of my friends there working as full-time teachers while the film and myself spread the message that being an educators can mean so many different things. And I hope I exemplify this myself: I am a teacher outside all day, with a funny hat and love for the outdoors, and I’ve never lost my passion for education anywhere along this incredible journey. I realized that I may never know what I’m going to do next, but I do know that it’s always going to involve teaching and that there are so many opportunities out there for me be an awesome educator!