Teacher Spotlight – December 2017

Meet Mr. Christopher Keys / 4th Grade Lead Teacher / DC Spring Academy

As a political science major at Morehouse College, Christopher Keys was drawn to the field of policy and law and its ability to impact education and youth. Through his undergraduate career; however, he determined that he wanted to make an immediate impact, and was inspired to join the classroom as a Teach For America corps member. Christopher taught for three years in New York City before getting his masters degree in educational policy at American University with a desire to create policies that would positively impact teachers, students, and families.

However, Christopher soon felt the pull back to the classroom. “As I’m going through my year of  policy, though that would be the biggest lever for change, quite frankly I felt the need to be on the front lines.” Christopher had heard of DC from former colleagues and others in his network and immediately clicked with the vision of Spring Academy and its school leader, Donny Tiengtum. He shares that when joining DC, he was very excited to join a team committed to a classroom culture and behavior management that was loving and no-nonsense, as opposed to punitive. He also connected immediately with his students. He shares, “We’re really blessed to teach the children of Trinidad. My students have done nothing short of amaze me with their intellect and wit. I’m honored to be their teacher.”

One thing about DC that immediately stood out to Christopher was the cohesiveness and connections between the five elementary schools. “Synergy is a big focus here. Full group professional development is not comparing Quest Academy over Spring Academy, it is about our shared goals.” This cohesiveness also spreads to his team, which has five 4th grade teachers working towards the success of all students. “We make sure that each one of us is standing and excelling at the end of the day.”

Christopher’s classroom is a place of excitement for learning, where students can be themselves and take time investigating and discussing. One example of a recent discussion came about when students were watching CNN Student News about Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the national anthem. Christopher described the discussion that followed, “Right after that, the babies were acting like policymakers. They were holding their own accountability conversations.  I knew right then and there I was in love with my students.”

Christopher’s advice for anyone interested in applying to DC? “First thing, I would tell them I hope they understand being a teacher is as important as any doctor, lawyer, judge, or any position that is held to a high standard. I would also say be your authentic self. If you are being 100% honest with your students, they will be honest with you and you’ll create an ecosystem of love.”

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Posted on December 22, 2017 in Awards & Recognition