Committed to Learning: Master Coach, Shelley Keith

From supporting tutors within her school as an Internal Coach* to supporting all tutors within the Metro DC Pre-K Reading Corps as a Master Coach, Shelley talked with us about her education journey and what drew her to The Literacy Lab’s work.

1. How long have you been an educator? What motivated you to go into education?

I have been in the field for 19+ years. Education is my passion! My parents were my biggest motivators. My Mom was the “Neighborhood Mom.” We always had lots of friends over to our house for arts, crafts and tutoring. She was a faithful school volunteer during the day and a Sunday School teacher at church. My Dad had multiple degrees in education and business. He stressed the importance of education day in and day out! He grew up on a farm with thirteen siblings and joined the military when he was very young. He constantly reminded my siblings and me about the sacrifice our ancestors made to give us the opportunity to be educated.

2. How long have you worked with The Literacy Lab?

I’ve been involved with The Literacy Lab for over two years now. I started as an Internal Coach when the program was introduced to the DC area, and I recently became a Master Coach. I now have the opportunity to work with new Internal Coaches during their first year with the Reading Corps. Balancing the role of program administrator and Internal Coach was a challenge during my first year. I’m able to share my insight and pass on what I learned from my experience as an Internal Coach. During my two years as an Internal Coach, I had a great Master Coach, Kimberly Parker. She followed the supportive coaching model of Reading Corps and I always felt I could go to her with any questions related to Reading Corps. This is the feeling I hope to convey to the tutors and Internal Coaches I work with now.

3. As a master educator, what drew you to The Literacy Lab?

The dedication of the program staff! Their enthusiasm was evident from the moment I entered training for the Reading Corps program as an Internal Coach. There is a deep commitment to the mission of closing the gap; of providing students with a strong literacy foundation. Everyone I have the privilege of being involved with at The Literacy Lab is dedicated to this mission and I have only see their commitment grow stronger. I was able to see the outstanding results students made with the Reading Corps program. For two years, I was able to experience The Literacy Lab work in implementing the Reading Corps program with fidelity to the model. It is the most effective literacy program I have had the chance to implement.

4. What positive changes have you seen in students as they build their literacy skills?

They develop a strong sense of pride as they learn the skills! Students see themselves as capable and smart and are eager to come to school. The Reading Corps model has a positive impact on children’s social and emotional development. Students develop improved problem solving and self-regulation skills because of the model’s strong emphasis on building positive, encouraging relationships with students.

5. What is the most important part about the work The Literacy Lab does?

Taking the time to reflect as a team; to examine program results and to look at how effectively we are meeting our program mission. Among the team, there is a definite commitment to making sure we maintain our high program standards and results as we expand.

6. What piece of advice do you have for those considering education as a profession?

This field is constantly changing as new research becomes available so one has to commit to being a lifelong learner! As an educator, you have a great responsibility for preparing students to be global citizens. Find your niche, whether it be early childhood, elementary or high school and “Be awesome!”

*An “Internal Coach” is a teacher or administrator at a Reading Corps service site who provides the tutors at the school daily support and supervision of the literacy interventions implemented.