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Jami Key knows the value of an education.
She saw her parents sacrifice so she could go to college. The closest library to her home was miles away, but her parents always found a way to get her there so she could “load up on books.” They also purchased a World Book Encyclopedia set for her and sacrificed to help her get into college.
Those efforts paid off.
Key graduated as valedictorian of her high school class and, four years later, summa cum laude from Marshall University with a bachelor of arts degree in secondary education, specializing in biology and general science. She went on to complete a master of education program in secondary education from Lynchburg College.
Now she’s teaching students here in Bedford County the value of an education. And her efforts have been justly rewarded.
Last month Key, a science and biology teacher at Liberty High School, was named the Region 5 Teacher of the Year, one of eight top teachers recognized from throughout Virginia. She has spent all 24 years of her teaching career at LHS and she exemplifies what a teacher should be. No matter the level the student is at, she wants to see them learn and be excited about it. She said real success is not measured by accomplishments, but rather by what takes place on a daily basis in the classroom. That means creating an atmosphere that her students can understand the material.
Her reward: When students who have graduated come back and thank her for preparing them for college.
Her story shows two important truths about education.
First, parents must be involved. Look at the legacy her parents now have. They sacrificed to help her gain an education and for the past 24 years she has been passing those efforts on to hundreds of students here in the county.
Second, teachers must never forget the responsibility they carry to impart a love of learning to their students. Early on Key said her teachers helped her realize that reading books of all types provided her with opportunities to visit places and experience events that would have been otherwise impossible for a child growing up in rural West Virginia.
She said it’s all about improving the lives of the students that come into the classroom. And that, Key said, is why all the teachers enter the classroom. Congratulations to Jami Key and the other teachers in Bedford County that she has represented so well through this recognition.