Day 3 of the road trip: corn… corn, everywhere. Today my dad and I are traversing the Nebraskan countryside on our way to Lincoln. We’re already more than halfway to my destination. Just three nights ago I was cramming my life into the back of my 2005 Ford Focus. The following morning, we set out to cross the country, a trip traversing over 7 states and 2600 miles. On Tuesday morning we will arrive in Mississippi and I will say goodbye to my old life, beginning a new adventure in teaching.
Driving across the country gives one a lot of time to think. “What have I got myself into? Will there be Starbucks in the Delta? What, exactly, is catfish noodling?” These are all questions I ask myself. During my dad’s driving stints I’ve spent my free time preparing for the two-month teacher training known as Institute. Today I started reading “A Chance to Make History” by Wendy Kopp, Founder of Teach for America. Kopp’s writing is inspirational. A point that especially resonated with me is how ambition is necessary to make effective change. Playing by the rules and meeting expectations may lead to a safe life, but making your own rules and being ambitious may lead to a great life.
“Ambitious goal setting is a crucial element of transformative teaching” – Wendy Kopp
A little known secret is that we all have the freedom to be ambitious. Once you realize this, it seems obvious. We have the freedom to set ambitious goals, to not only change our own lives but the lives of those around us. As I move 2600 miles from home for a chance to make a difference, I realize that I must sustain this same ambition when I arrive in my classroom on day one. Be ambitious. Risk everything. It’s necessary.