Emily: Writing My Own Adventure

by KIPP Houston on Apr 13, 2016

I hesitate to admit this as a teacher, but I did not read a single book over Spring Break. This is partly because I accidentally left one of my (library) books on the airplane, but also partly because I spent my break hiking on the west(ish) coast.

The big goal of the week was the Grand Canyon, so I flew to Las Vegas with a mismatched group of friends: new, old, and reeeeeally old friends. At the end of the week, I commented to a friend that I’ve known since high school that I was surprised that the group meshed so well. In reality, the group included one KIPP teacher, two YES Prep teachers, one former AmeriCorps member, and two former Teach For America staff members. Instead of being a group of teachers that read books over the break, we decided to write our own story of adventure.


We hopped around Nevada, Arizona, and Utah—stopping frequently to tour the Hoover Dam, hike deep into the Grand Canyon, and climb to the top of Angel’s Landing in Zion.

Upon returning, I tell a coworker who is also an avid hiker about how I fearfully summited Angel’s Landing—named because it’s so narrow and high that “only an angel could land on it.” I tell him that it was the most terrifying hike of my life, but that the view around Zion was incredible.

Surprisingly, he agrees. Zion was one of the destinations during his KIPP end of year trip back when he was in sixth grade, and he still remembers the look and feel of the mountains.

Seeing the connection between challenging myself and how kids challenge themselves through adventure reminds me why all the planning and fundraising and 16-hour bus rides to provide end of year trips are worth it. I had to wait until I was 28 to see the mountains. I want to give that breathless experience of seeing a new place to my students as early as possible.

Centuries ago, Saint Augustine said, “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” I still believe that to be true, and I love that I work at a school that encourages it and with coworkers that live it.

I’ll be reading more books as the semester comes to a close. But I’ll also be anticipating more adventure—both with my students, and without.

To read more from Emily Garvey, click here, here, and here.