Educator Keisha Lopez: “I Have a Very Special Boy with Autism. He is Brilliant.”

I never thought she would become a teacher. Neither did she. But having her first child reignited her life-long passion, and she walked away from corporate America. She did what most of us wouldn’t dare.  Keisha Lopez took her Business bachelors and her Management Information Systems masters degree and she jumped into the public school system. Who does that?
Lopez started teaching in elementary, then eventually moved on to Middle… following her son’s journey. She’s chosen challenging schools, with kids facing crazy odds. And along the way something surprising happened. She fell in love with the craft of teaching.
I am proud to call Keisha Lopez my friend, and I pray my children are surrounded with teachers like her in their life of learning.


Why did you choose to become a teacher? 

I choose to become a teacher after I became a parent because I wanted to be that change in children’s lives. Since I was a small child I knew I wanted to work with children, but I was not sure in what capacity. Not just academically, but socially and even emotionally as well. Being a parent made me realize there was more to life that being titled as I thought I had to be. This life to me, is about giving back, building strong communities in any way shape or form, and I satisfy this need by being a teacher.

What do you love about the job?

I love my kids. They are funny, most of them are pure and free, the future is really theirs. I love when I see the light turn on when I teach them something and they get it. I love the pride they feel and show when they have made even the tiniest accomplishment. I especially love when that introverted, shy maybe even hurt child who does not talk at all, cracks the door and gives me a smile. I love being at my school because I feel as though I am part of a great community, genuinely committed to serve selflessly. I love the knowledge around me. Many of my colleagues are brilliant. So not only do I enjoy teaching, but I enjoy being in an atmosphere of learning. It is not a job to me, it is a way of being.

What’s the most challenging part of the job?

The most difficult part of being a teacher is being able to tap into each student’s brain, or their way of learning, in order to impart knowledge. I believe all students can learn, but it takes preparation, trial and error, time and creativity to ensure that all students learn while keeping all of them engaged. For example, I have a very special boy with autism. He is brilliant. I am still trying to figure out how to reach him. He requires a lot of attention but he is a gift. I just figured out he is paying attention to me when he is twirling paper. I have another young man who has ADHD and if I give him a hacky sack to play with in one hand, he will complete most of his work. It satisfies his need to move. However, trying to figure all these tricks are not easy, and each year changes.

Would you ever want to be an administrator?

I am not done yet teaching. I cannot disqualify being an administrator in the future if it will really allow me to impact students. But right now… I think I impact them more on a day-to-day basis in the proverbial trenches. 

She’s been in the classroom for over 11 years now. Her son is in high school, so she’s dabbling in his next tier…college, starting to adjunct at the local college while teaching fulltime. Year-over-year, a strong percentage of her students make outstanding gains…and others have not. And she keeps marching on.

What do you think?


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