The APS Employee Spotlight is a monthly feature that highlights teachers, school and central office staff as well as support staff at every level, who contribute so much to make APS successful and enrich the education of our students. This month, we feature Discovery Elementary School Instructional Technology Coordinator Keith Reeves. Keith has been an educator for 19 years and has been with APS since 2011. He holds degrees in music and education and is currently working on his Doctorate in education as well as a certificate in school management and leadership.
What is your proudest moment within APS?
The proudest moment of my time in APS was also the proudest of my career, when a group of amazing teachers that I respect profoundly told me that I was “the heart” of my school, the ethical, emotional, and pedagogical center of the staff. That is exactly the kind of leader I always hoped I’d be someday, and to know that the people I serve trust and appreciate me in such a special way still brings tears of happiness to my eyes. I love my colleagues and adore being able to do everything I can for them.
What is the greatest joy of your job? Biggest challenge?
Working with kids, and helping meet their needs, seeing the joy and excitement – and sometimes relief – when a child is safe, happy, and thriving is the most rewarding thing a teacher experiences. Nothing makes me happier than doing right by the kids and teachers I’ve dedicated my life to serving. Right now, the biggest challenge in my work is the frustration I feel right along side our kids and families as they struggle with things not working right. Our responsibility in educational technology is to make things as simple and effective as possible. When things don’t work intuitively or simply, when expected outcomes result in dead ends, it frustrates people acutely and cumulatively. When I know things can and should be better, and I don’t have the personal power to make it better, I feel frustrated on behalf of those I serve. We as a school division can and must do better in making technology transparent, to allow great human experiences of teaching and learning to transpire without barriers, to make things as clear and facile as we can. We educational technology leaders are committed making that happen, as best as we can.
I have wanted to be a school teacher from the time I was thirteen years old, specifically a music teacher, which is what I did for the first part of my career before I went into administration. I was inspired by a former teacher, Dr. Ron Abaté, who made me feel so very included and capable as a young musician and marcher. I wanted to extend that kind love and belonging to my own band room, and I’ve always aspired to that. While teaching self contained special education music in Stafford County, I was teaching an in service for other music teachers on adaptive music education techniques. A leader there, Dr. Jan Streich, saw that I had a knack for professional development, and helped me get Involved with education technology early on in the field’s development in Virginia. That’s what got me into teacher leadership and eventually led me to administration: I wanted to help as many people as I can help as many kids as they can.
What advice do you have for those aspiring to similar roles?
Love children, fiercely and protectively and unrelentingly. Be true to yourself and your values. Never lie. Never forget that kids’ and teachers’ needs take precedence, that they are why we are here. Learn as much as you can, the best that you can. Be willing to go further than you think you can, and remember to take care of yourself so you can do so. Believe in public education and it’s capacity to change the world for the better, and that your job is to do exactly that, every day, and if you don’t, go be happy doing something else.
Name a leader who inspired you and why? (What qualities do you admire?)
My dear friend Dawn Moulen passed away recently. She was a true teacher leader. An English teacher, then a librarian, then a gifted coach, she had one of the purest hearts and most joyous attitudes toward kids I’ve ever seen. She was so consistently fierce about being allegiant to children. She knew how important it was that we didn’t just talk the talk, but always enacted our values, speaking truth to power and fighting the good fight when it was the right thing to do. She helped me find my strength to stand up in the face of bullies and bigots, of charlatans and cowards who use power and falsehood to maintain power, betraying the trust of our kids and community. She was a real advocate, a genuine warrior on behalf of children. I promised her I would stay on the right side of every decision that faced me, and I will try to keep that promise for the rest of my life.
I genuinely can’t imagine not being a teacher. Other opportunities come before me, but I can’t imagine giving up on the work. There is so much to do, so many things that have to be made better by capable, committed professionals, that I can’t imagine leaving education. Consequently, I’d stay in public education. I can imagine being a principal or a director of educational technology, wherever I had the chance to do the most good. All of the studying and reading and learning I do is part of my aspiration to be the best leader I can be. I look forward to putting my skills to work in ever greater challenges to do ever greater good.
What are you reading now?
“Strategic Planning: An Interactive Process for Leaders,” “Strategic Management: Concept and Cases,” “Educational Research: Planning, Conducting, and Evaluating Quantitative and Qualitative Research,” and “The Coding Manual for Qualitative Researchers.” (Doctoral programs are fun, I swear!)
What makes APS special/why is your role/department/class so important for students, the school, APS as a whole?
Educational technologists are the best bang for the buck of any dollar spent by the district. We have the widest range of skills, the deepest passion for making teaching and learning better, and do so twelve months of the year. We are teachers and leaders, skilled with tools and techniques, and can serve as everything from a technology leader to an instructional designer an assistant principal all in one day. Principals, teachers, district leaders, parents, kids, consultants, industry leaders, you name it: they can count on the educational technologists – the APS ITCs – to be there in the thick of it. Particularly during the pandemic, all learning we do is now squarely in our fields, and as such, we are right the heart of every aspect of learning. We can do more for more people with more experience and expertise than anybody else in learning right now, and we are happy and willing and able to do so! This is literally what we do!
Is there anything else that might surprise your colleagues to know about you? Personal interests, achievements, etc.?
I am an avid genealogist. I really enjoy family research, and have over 19,000 people in my database. I’ve visited many of my ancestral cemeteries and places of origin, with many of my lines traced back to the 1600s. I have fourteen compatriot ancestors who fought in the American Revolution, which is why I am a member of the Sons of the American Revolution. Most of my family has been North America since long before America was America, primarily in Dutch and English communities that are now part of New York.
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