English teacher named Albion’s Educator of the Year

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 7 June 2016 at 12:00 am

Photos by Tom Rivers – Chris Keller is presented the Educator of the Year award from Margy Brown, president of the Albion Board of Education. Keller was recognized on Monday during a staff recognition program.

ALBION – Before he was a teacher at Albion Middle School, Chris Keller was working in the private sector for Jamestown Container, as a shipping manager, quality manager and then in information systems for the company with sites in Medina, Lockport and Jamestown.

“I had a lucrative career in the business world, but now I have a fulfilling career,” Keller said on Monday after he was named Albion’s “Educator for the Year.”

Keller, after 6 years in the private sector, wanted a new direction. He returned to college for a master’s degree. In 1999, he did his student teaching at Holley, and was hired in 2000 to finish out half a year at Kendall as an English teacher in the middle and high school levels.

Albion hired him that fall and Keller has proven popular among students and staff. He led an enrichment program in the middle school for about five years. He is currently an English teacher for the eighth grade. He enjoys having students ask questions, searching for new ways to solve problems.

Chris Keller was praised on Monday by Albion school leaders for broadening students’ views of the world.

“English and books are a real passion of mine,” Keller said. “I enjoy when you can get the lights to turn on for a kid. Education unlocks doors.”

Keller has led the Middle School student council as advisor, and also directed the Chess Club. He also has chaired the English Department, and is currently president of the Albion Teachers Association.

He also serves on the Medina Board of Education, and was that group’s president.

Keller, a Lockport native, served four years in the Army. He praised his hard-working colleagues at Albion, including his wife Julie, who is a pre-kindergarten teacher.

“Education is a wonderful way to spend a career,” he said. “Education is life-transforming. It has transformed mine.”

The district and Board of Education also recognized retiring teachers and staff on Monday, including from left: Paul Mann, computer specialist; David Draper, cleaner; Alan Van Camp, academic intervention services teacher; Julie McGrath, first grade teacher; Annette Pearl, special education teacher; Barbara Reiss, elementary school media specialist; and Gloria Short, cleaner.

Other retiring staff not pictured include Sharon LaDue, payroll clerk; Paul Drought, custodian; Randall Kelley, custodian; and Darlene Wilting, cleaner.

Albion also recognized Brenda McQuillan for her five years as a volunteer on the Board of Education. McQuillan chose not to seek another five-year term.

Margy Brown presents Paul Mann with a book during a staff recognition program on Monday. Mann has retired after 19 years with the district. He was the lead computer specialist in district network upgrades. He was called a hard-working, problem solver for the district.

Rachel Curtin (right), elementary school principal, congratulates Julie McGrath on a successful 29-year career as a first grade teacher. Curtin said McGrath taught more than 600 first graders in her career, and was influnetial in teaching many to read and succeed in school.

Tim Mercer (right), director of facilities for Albion Central School, praises David Draper for his 31 years as a cleaner, including many years as the night leader at the elementary school. Mercer said the district has dedicated staff on buildings and grounds.

The district also awarded tenure to the following teachers and administrators: Rachel Curtin, elementary school principal; Jennifer Ashbery, elementary school assistant principal; Jennifer Lamont, elementary special education teacher; Samantha Seaman, elementary teacher; and Barbara Wesolowski, middle school teacher.