Teacher Feature: Mr. Keir on DECA, teaching and life experiences

In the holiday themed issue, released just before Christmas, the Tyro covered a certain history teacher’s opinions on gift-giving. The feedback from that article was extremely positive, so a new article was commissioned. This time, a full-length article on said educator.

Kidding. There was a limited ripple of response to the article (though that was hardly the article’s fault – it was hiding in the back of the paper, muffled by the countless other reports residing in the first and second pages). In reality, people high up in the Tyro felt that the teacher featured in the holiday article had (at least) a handful of other interesting thoughts.

His Lancer Block wasn’t crowded, but it was certainly active. Kids were running in and out of the room while other bowed over their homework from last night. Mr. Keir was standing by his brand-new stand-up desk, switching his attention from his computer to students needing his expertise. After a few minutes, he motioned me over, I turned on the voice recorder, and the interview began.

The first thing that struck me was how nonchalant he was about DECA. Considering how involved DECA is at Central, I thought that Mr. Keir would match that level in excitement about his alma mater (club). “I joined because that class was pretty chill, and you could do different fun stuff as opposed to tests.” He placed at the international level (“I shined when I felt like shining”), yet when asked about whether or not he had taken anything away from that experience, his response was yes … sort of. A job he had secured at a local restaurant as a requirement for DECA continued to help him through future years of waiting tables, yet as influential as DECA at our school, it clearly wasn’t the right topic to attack when it came to digging around in Mr. Keir’s thoughts.

The conversation moved forward until I finally realized that the question I should have was actually the last thing that came out of my mouth. The one topic that the two of us discussed, the thing that took up half of the thirteen-minute long recording on my phone, was teaching. Or, in his words, he cherished “the specific interactions I have with students … I don’t realize it all the time, when it’s happening, I realize it after. When you see people and they come back and talk to you, or you get an email from somebody, those are the things you remember.” It’s not always the best and brightest students that stand out in Mr. Keir’s memory – it’s the kids where a tangible difference is made, regardless of what level they started at. “I have one real great memory of kid (he was an obnoxious person) and I got along with him, but it’s like, you’re obnoxious. I actually told him when he was a senior, ‘Someday, in the not to distant future, you’re gonna lip off to the wrong person and they’re gonna beat you senseless, and I kinda wish I’d be there to see it.’ A few years later, this kid came back, and says, ‘You remember me?’ And I said yeah, of course I remember you. And he had a big black eye – and he goes, ‘You were right. I lipped off to a guy in the locker room in college, and he beat me up.’”

As I tried to start to close off the interview, Mr. Keir interrupted me (he was on a roll, presumably) and pointed to his wall, where a “Most Influential Educator” award hung. “I’ve gotten four of those over the year here, and those are awesome, because that means you reached somebody and really had an effect on them.”

Later, I left the room feeling oddly moved by the interview. It’s not often that I hear teachers speak so candidly about their passion for teaching. At first I wanted to steer the conversation to his history (hence the DECA question) but I quickly realized that the key to getting the most out of Mr. Keir was asking him about his feelings about teaching. To all students that have ever had the pleasure of experiencing Mr. Keir as a teacher, you know what it’s like to be under that kind of expertise and care. To students that have yet to walk into his room, take APUSH. Or U.S. History. It’s going to be one high school experience you won’t want to bleach out of your memories.