Teacher Feature: Lisa Keyes uses overseas experiences to educate students

By April Clark Honaker

Lisa Keyes currently teaches Spanish at I.A. Lewis and Ruston Junior High School. This is her second year working for Lincoln Parish Schools with last year being spent primarily as an ELA (English Language Arts) teacher. 

Keyes comes to Lincoln Parish Schools with a wealth of experience and education that includes world travel and the ability to speak multiple languages.

Keyes is originally from Massachusetts and studied international relations as an undergraduate, earning a bachelor’s from the University of South Florida with a minor in French as well as coursework in Spanish. 

After college, Keyes spent some time tutoring students in France and Spain, which first sparked her interest in teaching. “That was really rewarding,” she said. 

With a certificate to teach English overseas from St. Giles International Language School in San Francisco, Keyes spent three years living in Japan and teaching English at a junior college there. 

She then went on to pursue post-graduate work in Japanese from the University of Montana. During that time, she was also able to study Japanese on scholarship as an exchange student at Kumamoto University in Japan for a year. 

While studying in Japan, she was able to take some really interesting and challenging courses, including a French class in Japanese where she was required to translate works from Japanese to French.

Keyes later earned a master’s in education at Oregon State University with certification for grades 3-10. She also continued to study Spanish along the way and earned K-12 ESL (English as a Second Language) and library endorsements, as well as other certifications for grades K-8 and K-12. 

She said that much of her most recent Spanish knowledge has come from living in Guatemala with her family while her husband was on sabbatical in 2016 and from traveling in Central America.

Before teaching in Lincoln Parish, Keyes gained experience teaching in multiple other states, including Montana, Oregon, and California. She started teaching Spanish to English speakers in 2012 and has continued doing so here in Ruston. 

Keyes said, “I was interested in history and languages from a young age.” She also grew up with parents who were teachers, and her husband who now teaches at the university level, did as well. “I guess we have teaching in our blood,” she said.

For Keyes, being able to speak multiple languages and traveling have made it easier to adapt to new environments. “I think it’s helped me understand people better,” she said. Even coming to Louisiana was something of a change for her. Not only do people speak with an accent and some grammatical variation, but the culture is also unique. Keyes said her past experiences have helped her take these differences in stride.

According to Keyes, “Learning languages also opens more doors,” which is something that can benefit her students.

“When you have experience with languages, it broadens you,” she said. “It helps you understand people better. It helps pave the way for whatever it is that’s important to you.”