“I just want to be the type of teacher that makes a difference in a child’s life. If I can reach at least one person, then I feel like I’ve done my job,” says Lainey Keller, an aspiring English teacher who’s working on completing her English Language Arts degree at Athens State. Teaching has always been Lainey’s passion, but before she can educate a classroom of her own, she has to finish her education first – and raise 3 teenagers and a toddler at the same time.
Lainey is the epitome of a busy wife and mother. With four kids (ranging in age from 2 to 16), two dogs, and a cat, Lainey admits that her life is pretty crazy. Being a mom while juggling college coursework is never easy, but Lainey makes it work. “When I’m in class, there’s always something going on at home, and when I’m at home, I’ve still got homework to do and there’s something always going on. I just try to be in the present, make the best of the time I have, and get creative when I study.” With such a busy home life, online classes are also a must for Lainey. She tries to take at least one or two online courses every semester to give her the flexibility she needs to take care of her family.
While Lainey admits that she’s still trying to learn how to balance all of her responsibilities, she has figured out some ways to involve her kids in some of her school work. “When I have to put together some sample tests or anything like that, I always make them take it. Sometimes I ask their opinion on certain teachers and how their methodology works and see which ones they like and which ones they don’t,” Lainey explains. “I hope that I set a good example for my children and show them that you can go back at any time to finish whatever you want to finish.”
When considering college options, Athens State was easily Lainey’s top choice. “I’ve seen Athens State diplomas hanging on the walls of all the teachers that I used to love growing up. Athens State is just THE place to go if you want to become a teacher,” Lainey said. “It’s the best of the best for a teaching education.” Lainey also appreciated Athens State’s small-town, family feel. “The campus isn’t too big or small. It’s just the perfect size. Athens State is community-based and I don’t feel like just another person there. It’s almost like family. The professors and other students seem really focused on student success. Everybody’s been very helpful and you can tell that everybody loves their job here.”
Athens State’s professors have also made an impact in Lainey’s life. “I haven’t met a professor here yet that I don’t really admire,” Lainey stated. “They’re all very different, but I’ve really enjoyed learning teaching strategies from each and every one of them. I’m learning to be a teacher by watching them. They’re all different, but they all have a passion for what they do and you can tell. It shows.”
After Lainey completes her bachelor’s degree, she hopes to continue her education and pursue her master’s degree. In the meantime, her dream is to teach high school English. “I just want to be a good teacher. That’s the only thing that I can think of that I would want to fulfill me,” Lainey said. Lainey genuinely cares about the students that will one day enter her classroom, and makes it clear that nothing is going to stop her from fulfilling her dreams.