Teachers with passion can offset any shortage

Dominique Smith

Today, fewer children are growing up wanting to join the ranks of the most noble profession of teaching. Headlines confirm that the United States is experiencing its first major teacher shortage since 1990. But if my friend and former classmate, Alyssa Bacon, is an example, there will never be a shortage of people passionate about teaching.

Bacon knew early in life that she wanted to teach. "I've always wanted to be a teacher; it's all I've wanted to do," she told me. "I remember for career day in kindergarten or first grade, I dressed up as a teacher because that's what I wanted to be."


Her goal for teaching is not a selfish one. She's not teaching for individual glory, but for the success of her students. "My whole reason for wanting to be a student educator was for me not only to impact them, but to see their growth," she said. "I want to be that teacher who comes alongside my students and encourages them."

When it comes to destiny and pursuing passion, sometimes everyone encounters detours that cause them to doubt their calling. Bacon, a 2012 graduate of the First Academy in Orlando, knew where she wanted to teach coming out of college, which happened to be the school where she interned during her senior year at Asbury College in Kentucky. She called it her "dream school." The school had an opening, but did not initially consider her for the position. However after a few months, it reconsidered, and called her in for an interview. But after all of that, the school decided to move on and chose another candidate.


"I thought that maybe I'm not supposed to be a teacher and that it wasn't God's plan," she said. But in the midst of the detour, God showed his faithfulness by opening another opportunity for Bacon at another school, as a fifth-grade teacher at Bourbon Central Elementary School in Paris, Ky. In retrospect, she now said, the opportunity "was a better situation." The detour turned out to be a great reminder. "I learned that his plan isn't always our plan," she said.

Alongside finding strength from her faith, Bacon draws strength and support from her mother, Lisa, and her two sisters, Tiffany and Jennifer. In fact, she follows in the path of her mother and Tiffany, as they both are current educators. The support of her family is something Bacon does not take for granted. "I wouldn't be where I am today without their support."

For Bacon, the road to fulfilling her dream of being a teacher has not been smooth; yet her message to aspiring teachers is simple:

"Never give up. Follow your dreams and never give up," she said. "It will be very challenging at times, but when you feel defeated, don't give up. You will be blessed at the end."

As the American historian Henry Adams once said, "A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops."

America needs more people like my friend, Alyssa Bacon.

Dominique Smith, 22, attends the University of Central Florida and is an aspiring journalism major and sports blogger.