There’s No One Road to Becoming a Teacher

Grace Worm knew she wanted to be in a classroom, but as we see in the documentary ‘The Road to Teach,’ the trip expanded her idea of what an educator does.

(Photo: Dan Ford and Jamie Zehler)

May 7, 2015· 1 MIN READ
Tasbeeh Herwees is a journalist and writer from Los Angeles. She has written for Good Magazine, The Majalla, TruthDig, L.A. Currents, and others.

Grace's Pit Stop Playlist 5 VIDEOS

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    Grace's Pit Stop Intro
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    Grace's Pit Stop: Omoju Miller
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    Grace's Pit Stop: Sean McComb
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    Grace's Pit Stop: Zio Perez
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    Grace's Pit Stop: Indira Phukan

Grace Worm is a natural at taking charge. In The Road to Teach, a documentary that follows Worm and two other millennials on a cross-country journey to discover what it means to become an educator in the 21st century, the 22-year-old wears leadership like a second skin.

As you can see in the clips above, Worm confidently asks tough questions of some of the top educators in the country. Her two fellow travelers—Rafi Silva and Nadia Bercovich—were still trying to figure out their career plans, but Worm knew what she wanted to do. She was just trying to figure out how to get there.

“I knew going in that I wanted to be a teacher,” says Worm. “So that really wasn’t the answer I was looking for. I was looking for answers to what does it even mean to be an educator? And what types of educators are out there in the world that I don’t know about?”

The teachers Worm interviewed during the road trip are the best of the best, from 2014 National Teacher of the Year recipient Sean McComb to Omoju Miller, a cognitive scientist at the University of California, Berkeley. She listened to them talk as passionately about their successes as they did about their failures. “I was able to go into these rooms with people that I just admired incredibly, and I was able to say, ‘Tell me about a time that you’ve failed,’ ” she says. “Just having the faith to ask that question, I think, has really changed me.”

A year after her momentous trip, the young adventurer is working for the Utah Park Service, teaching outdoor education classes to elementary school students. One of the educators featured in the film, Indira Phukan, inspired Worm to pursue the job. Phukan works for NatureBridge, an organization that fosters environmental literacy by connecting young people to the natural world and encouraging them to transfer what they learn on the trail in national parks to their daily lives at home, at school, and in their communities.

“That was amazing to me,” says Worm. “I didn’t even know that that existed.”

Now Worm leads her own hikes, using Utah’s state parks as her classroom and teaching her young students about plants and the science of the natural world. She says the road trip broadened her definition of education and made the prospect of a long-term career in teaching feel more real.

Worm mentions an old adage in the film: “Those who can’t do, teach.” She says her experiences on the road trip disproved that maxim and gave her the courage to pursue her dreams more vigorously than ever.

In the fall she’ll be shipping off to Dublin, where she will be studying popular literature at Trinity College. The master’s degree she’ll earn there will provide her with cultural literacy in several genres. It’s the kind of education Worm hopes will bring her one step closer to becoming a great teacher.

The Road To TEACH is a one hour documentary produced by Participant Media, the TEACH Campaign and Roadtrip Nation.