When the words “exemplary instructor” are used, teachers like Christine Keaton come to mind. An English and Language Arts teacher at Willowcreek Middle School, Keaton knows the importance of being a strong role model for her students and helping to shape them as they mature.
Keaton has been a student at Portage Township Schools throughout her life, attending Wallace Aylesworth Elementary School, Fegely Middle School, and Portage High School. After graduating from Indiana University Northwest with a degree in Secondary Education for English, Keaton started her teaching career at Eggers Middle School in Hammond. Years later, she began teaching at Willowcreek Middle School after a suggestion from her mother, who was a custodian at the school.
“Willowcreek really is like one big family,” Keaton said. “I felt comfortable being involved and interacting with the faculty, staff, and students.”
Keaton’s teaching style can be described as compassionate and empathetic. She stated that her students really motivate her in her job and she tries finding new ways to energize her syllabus.
“As a teacher, my priority is to build a relationship of mutual respect with each of the students,” Keaton said. “I often try to think of creative and engaging lessons that cater to their interests. I try to have fun with them while also stimulating and challenging them when they need it.”
Keaton also explained that she’s even learned more about herself throughout her years of teaching. In fact, she believes being a teacher means both being a lifelong learner and a lifelong mentor.
“I’ve learned that being a teacher is not a career where you can expect to have immediate gratification,” Keaton said. “When you’re a teacher, your role is being someone who cultivates their minds and helps them grow. And then years later when you see your students grown up, it really puts into perspective how much of an impact you have had on their lives.”
Keaton also coaches cross country. She states that despite their differences, some fundamental elements of teaching and coaching parallel each other, especially when it comes to building strong relationships and exercising the mind.
“It’s nice to get to know the students in a setting besides the classroom,” Keaton said. “It only furthers our mutual relationships while challenging and pushing ourselves to our limits to succeed. It’s really mind over matter.”
“I take pride in my career,” Keaton said. “I am always happy to tell people about what I do and how I always try to do better in both my teaching and coaching.”