Teacher embarks on a Nys road trip

Some people  worry about road trips. They dread missing exits, getting lost, driving alone, or winding up in the middle of nowhere.

But not English teacher Ayn Nys, a perennial road-tripper who enjoys finding the unexpected on her journeys.

“I think a lot of single women are afraid to do [road trips] because they think they’re dangerous,” she said. “I think if you’re smart, they’re just as safe as driving around in your own neighborhood—especially now, with all the tools we have at our disposal.”

This summer, Nys will drive from Houston to Ohio to visit her family. The solo trip is one she makes about once every two years. Each year, however, she makes different side stops.

“I have complete freedom to use my time the way I want to,” she said.

Her past road trips have taken Nys everywhere from Massachusetts to Iowa.

“I went to Boston last year…with my brother, because I was going to be teaching The Crucible and The Scarlet Letter for the first time,” she said. “It taught me a lot about the Salem Witch Trials [and] Nathaniel Hawthorne, and I got to see one of the places where he lived that inspired one of his books, The House of Seven Gables. That was really neat tour, because you got to see all these movable staircases, all these antiques, and get a lot of information just about history. It gives me a greater appreciation for what I teach, and it helps me go a little bit more in depth…with the background information for particular books.”

One item on this year’s list is Monroe County, Alabama, another town steeped in literary fame.

“Monroe County was where both [novelists] Harper Lee and Truman Capote grew up,” Nys said. “I know that they have a museum dedicated to To Kill a Mockingbird… I just wanted to kind of check it out and see [if] what I see is similar to To Kill a Mockingbird.”

Because Nys will no longer teach Pre-AP English I, she will not teach Harper Lee’s novel after this school year. However, she believes the trip to Monroe County will still be a worthy investment.

“I’m a big Harper Lee fan,” she said. “I think it can just inspire me as a person. And then it might teach me something that I can contribute to the creative writing course.”

Other prospective destinations include the Shakespeare Garden in Cleveland, Ohio, monuments dedicated to the Civil Rights movement, and Graceland, previous home of Elvis Presley. Nys, however, enjoys being able to add and drop destinations.

“It’s just for fun and exploration and I like to learn new things,” she said. “I think when you travel, you learn things in a deeper way.”