The Big Sandy Mountaineer -

Demrece Keller 17 years teaching in Big Sandy

 

October 28, 2020

"I thank God daily for having a job like this. It's wonderful. To be able to work with inquisitive minds is truly a blessing," was the reply I got from Demrece Keller when I asked how she liked teaching at F.E. Miley Elementary School. "Over the past 17 years, I have taught with some wonderful people. I have learned a lot, but my most favorite thing about teaching is the students... I refer to them as my kids sometimes. They are very near and dear to my heart. To me that's my most favorite part of it."

Demrece has been teaching in Big Sandy for her entire career, nearly long enough to teach the children of previous students. She also served F.E. Miley for 20 years by driving a school bus. She has also filled various other roles, like working as the chapter one teacher and acting as the very first teacher for the Little Flock Preschool before she started her full-time teaching career in the classroom. During those two decades, Mrs. Keller focused primarily on raising her family and working on the ranch.

Demrece grew up in Big Sandy before earning her degree in Elementary Education with a minor in Art from MSU. When the time came for her to move from the bus routes to the classroom, she worked part-time while taking classes to update her teaching certificate. She began her full-time teaching career as an aide to Scott Chauvet, who was teaching a combined fourth and fifth grade class, during a time when decreasing class sizes prompted the school to combine age groups. During her tenure in that position, she did corrections, taught reading, and filled in as the P.E. Teacher. Later, she took on the fourth grade and has never looked back. "It's a great age," Demrece explained, pointing out that the kids are still young enough to really love being at school, but old enough that you can work with them at a higher level. "It is a huge step coming from third grade to fourth grade. In my class, I am teaching them how to study. How to get into their books and look for information. I have high expectations for my kids in here. I'm firm. I'm big on respect: respect me, respect others, respect everyone's right to learn, respect your flag, respect our school, and other things like that," Mrs. Keller explained about fourth grade classes.

For years, Demrece was the P.E. Teacher for F. E. Miley. She spoke fondly of teaching dance lessons to generations of students, playing volleyball in the elementary school gym, and her instrumental role in introducing the swimming unit to the Elementary School. She especially loved watching the younger kids get over their fear of water, going from a point where they wouldn't let go of the ladder, to generally being comfortable in the water, to finally getting comfortable in deep water so they could relax and learn to swim. The obvious progress was particularly rewarding.

Demrece and her husband, Harvey Keller, have been married for 35 years. For fun, she has spent nearly four decades enjoying ranch work and following her daughter's interests. She relayed proudly how her daughter Laci excelled at sports through high school and college, and now is coaching in Big Sandy. Her daughter Tenley shared in her horseback riding hobby, eventually riding in competitions from Junior High to College and beyond. Mrs. Keller also enjoys spending time with her 3-year old grandson, Anders, and is looking forward to the upcoming birth of a new grandson due to arrive the first part of November. Demrece is a fan of Dr. David Jeremiah, whose sermons she listens to every morning at 5:30. She has also read a few of his books. She also enjoys yard work and driving swather for about a month every year.

Mrs. Keller also expressed "....a huge thanks to Mr. Holland, Heather, Marietta, and Charlie for all that they've done so that we could have our school doors open and have a regular classroom. Even my students are very willing to wear masks all day long, as long as they can come to school."

 
 

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