Aubrey Moog-Ayers
Aubrey Moog-Ayers. “If there’s one thing I’ve learned over my adult life, it’s that I am not afraid to start over.” (Courtesy of Aubrey Moog-Ayers)

Starting over: After a stint in the film industry, Aubrey Moog-Ayers found teaching high school was a better fit for the life she wanted

Moog-Ayers completed a new VCU School of Education program specifically designed for career switchers.

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Editor’s note: “Starting over” is a VCU News series about Virginia Commonwealth University students, graduates, faculty and staff who have boldly chosen to change something in their lives — whether a new profession, area of study or something else entirely.

Starting over is a theme in Aubrey Moog-Ayers’ life that has repeated itself often. The twists and turns in her career have led her to one truth: She loves interacting and connecting with people.

“If there’s one thing I’ve learned over my adult life, it’s that I am not afraid to start over,” said Moog-Ayers, a VCU graduate and a social studies teacher at Carver College and Career Academy in Chesterfield County, Virginia.

She started college at Appalachian State University with the intention of becoming a nurse and working for an organization like Doctors Without Borders.

“And thus begins my theme of starting over,” she said. “The school didn’t have a functioning nursing program, so I was told to transfer or pick a new major. I decided to do both and transferred to [New York University] to study film after spending a year nannying in Switzerland.

“I have always loved film and creativity, so I had the idea to study film so that I could direct and travel and help people through art and story,” she said.

After graduating, she headed to Los Angeles, where she began working in the film industry. The experience was invaluable.

“I learned you have to want film to be your whole life, especially when starting out,” she said. “While I have always had ambitious career goals, I have also always wanted a family and the two seemed incompatible in this world. I looked at the people on the sets who had the job I wanted. I realized that although I greatly respected their work and ability, I did not want their lives.”

After leaving Los Angeles, she began working at Colonial Williamsburg, first as a historical interpreter and then as a weaver, after learning the process of making yarn and cloth from scratch. Later, when Moog-Ayers married and she and her wife wanted to start a family, she began thinking about the kind of job that would best suit her.

“I quickly realized that teaching fit so many of my strengths and the things I seek in a job —  connection to people, movement, interesting subject matter and quick decision making to name a few,” she said.

She began VCU’s Pathways to Teaching: Career Switcher program in August 2019 as part of its first cohort and finished in 2021. The focus on urban teaching and centering equity in the classroom appealed to her, she said. 

“It fit the ideology I wanted to bring to my new career.”

She is happy in her current teaching position because of the one-on-one interactions with students.

“I enjoy building relationships with the students most of all as a public school teacher,” she said.

Her tip for starting over? She finds it helpful to view every change in life as evolution and growth, a way to find the best fit for “what I want in my life at that point,” she said.

“I am happy to say that I have a 6-month-old baby, and that has felt like a new start of its own kind. Just as I couldn’t have predicted I would be a high school history teacher when I graduated from high school — or college, for that matter — I can’t predict what will come in the next chapters of my life.”