Senior Ansley Bridges, an elementary education major, said she always had a passion for teaching when she was even young, but was hesitatant to commit to it because she did not want to fail.
“I have always wanted to teach; it’s been my dream since I was a child teaching my stuffed animals in my classroom in my bedroom. But as I went through middle school and high school I started to doubt myself,” Bridges said. “I wanted to be good at teaching, so I thought if I didn’t try then I wouldn’t fail.”
When Bridges started at Baylor, those doubts about teaching still haunted her, and she came in undecided as a freshman. But Bridges’ journey took a new turn when she decided to take the spring semester off to serve in Ethiopia, where she had traveled before throughout middle and high school. This time Bridges started an educational non-profit tutoring program for young girls who didn’t have access to quality education.
“The people of Ethiopia are so loving and kind; we have very different cultures and religion, but they want to talk to you and get to know you,” Bridges said. “I started the non-profit tutoring program because education is not valued for girls in Ethiopia, and it broke my heart because education is so important for a better life.”
During her trip, Bridges taught life-skills and English classes to young Ethiopian girls. Then she had an epiphany and realized that teaching was something she was born to do.
“One day I asked myself, ‘What am I doing?’ I want to be a teacher,” Bridges said. “My whole life I have wanted this, and I told myself be bold and just do it. So I came back the next semester and declared education as my major. I don’t think I would have declared education had I not gotten out of my comfort zone and gone to Ethiopia.”
As Bridges returned to school the following semester, she found that Baylor’s School of Education offered her a healthy dose of field experience to help supplement the things she was learning in class.
“It’s so normal for me to be in the classroom now, and I can’t imagine any other way,” Bridges said.
Bridges said the School of Education also does a great job of easing students into the classroom, giving them time to see if teaching is what they really want to do.
“My fear going into education was that I was not going to be good,” Bridges said. “I had such high expectations of myself. Baylor does a great job of making sure you don’t fail. They supply you with the knowledge, support and resources that you need to be successful.”
As a senior teaching intern at Woodway Elementary, Bridges spends four full days a week at the school. But she also finds time for Baylor activities, including her sorority, Pi Beta Phi.
—By Taliyah Clark