From the Back of the Class to the Front of the Class – Troubled Student to Teacher
By high school Keith was depressed and involved in several self-destructive behaviors. A guidance counselor told him he would never go to college and should just take the minimum class requirements to graduate high school. Keith believed it and the downward spiral and destructive behaviors continued. He was approached by a football teammate that was concerned about his self-destructive behavior and encouraged him to reach out to his coaches and the guidance office. Keith got help.
Keith talks about this experience within his video curriculum. With the cutting epidemic as well as the high rates of teen depression, bulimia, anorexia, and suicide occurring in the American school population, Keith believes it is important to address these issues even though it may be uncomfortable to do so. Keith feels it is imperative that students know that help is available if they are dealing with bullying, cyber bullying, racism, depression, cutting, suicidal ideation, or any other addictions or forms of self-harm. Keith’s transparency comes through within his video curriculum and has prompted students throughout the nation to reach out and get help.
Keith joined the Army after graduating high school and things started to turn around. He began developing coping skills to help him function in the military and life in general. He still uses those coping skills today and teaches students the techniques he has learned. Keith got the improbable idea to get out of the Army, go to college, get his teaching degree, and help students that were struggling and hurting as he had.
Keith graduated with a degree in elementary education and found himself in the classroom working with students that struggled with academic and behavioral challenges, as well as bullying and exclusion, just like he had. Keith won the “Teaching Excellence Award” for his work increasing the academic achievement levels as well as decreasing the behavioral infractions of at risk middle school students. He also won the “National Impact Award” for his efforts at parent outreach and education.
Keith also taught children that had severe cognitive and physical and/or mental disabilities at the nationally acclaimed Gateway Education Center in Greensboro, NC. Keith found working with students of all ages that had challenges as diverse as OCD, bi polar, and autism was very humbling. Keith started his own parent coaching practice working after school with children that were struggling with behavioral issues and academic and family dynamic challenges. He was able to teach parents simple strategies they could use to help their students academically, behaviorally, and socially as well as overcome bullying, exclusion, and other social challenges.
Throughout his public school teaching career and his parent coaching endeavors, Keith used comedy to connect. He feels comedy is cross cultural and allows him to have impact in diverse environments. He began using comedy in the classroom to teach academic concepts and quickly discovered he could use it to address social and behavioral issues also. Keith presented assemblies that address bullying, cyberbullying, diversity, drug and alcohol use, peer pressure, mental health challenges, and other tough topics. Teachers and administrators requested a way to keep the positive momentum going after his assemblies and he created a streaming service to meet that need.
Keith’s journey from troubled youth to award winning teacher inspires students. The comedy he used to deal with his own pain and frustration he now uses within his video curriculum. As a victim of bullying and exclusion, Keith has a unique platform to reach students. His experience working with youth of all ages in different environments allows him to connect with middle and high school students. His use of comedy comes from a personal space and is a vehicle for changing lives.
Keith lives in North Carolina with his wife and their three school age children.