Lori Keel

Daniel Dye / The Herald

Daniel Bermudez, left, works with Title I/ESL teacher Lori Keel. Bermudez recently immigrated from El Salvador to Alabama.

For Eclectic Middle School teacher Lori Keel, the family atmosphere is what has kept the Alexander City resident working in Eclectic schools for 29 years.

“I had opportunities to go back to Alex City where I live, but Eclectic is my family,” Keel said. “The teachers, the students and grandparents are family. Whether it’s a tragedy, celebration or something we need at school, everyone rallies around.”

She worked as a sixth-grade teacher for 23 years and as a fifth-grade teacher for two years before moving to her current role at Title 1/ESL teacher the past four years.

Keel works with at-risk students that need interventional help in math and reading and English as a second language (ESL) students.

“I go into classrooms with fifth- and sixth-graders needing help with reading and math,” she said. “If they are having a really hard time with a skill, I can bring them down to my room and do one-on-one help. I also go into the classroom and sit down or pull a student to a small table and go over what the student is missing while a teacher is giving a lesson.”

A challenge Keel has met with open arms is figuring out ways to assist ESL students.

She said Google Translate has been become her best friend in assisting her and student Daniel Bermudez, a student in seventh grade who immigrated from El Salvador.

“The school is 1-to-1 technology,” she said. “So Daniel takes his notes and translates. He’s only been in the country for 13 months. We have access to a translator, but she is not on site.

“He spoke no English when he came last year in sixth grade. Last year was really tough for him. This year is huge for Daniel. He has friends, our language is improving. I go into his classes for math, history and English.”

Keel also works with a student from India who arrived during third grade. The student did not know English.

“He’s amazing,” Keel said. “He’s on the A-B honor roll. Sometimes I’ll work with him because he gets words get mixed up.”

According to Keel, she has four ESL students who need help passing a state-required test.

The test, ACCESS Online, is a computer-based, adaptive test that responds to student performance. This test is given annually to students in first grade through 12th grade.

It tests students’ language in listening, reading, speaking and writing.

Keel said her mom is the reason why she chose education.

“My mother taught in a small country school,” she said. “She was the only teacher in fourth grade at that school and taught for 30 years. If I could be even be the teacher she was to her students, then I would have been a success at this profession.”