Jobs in Demand: Wesley Keener on Teaching

By Lydia McAllister on Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Amanda Cordell

Wesley Keener

Job: Fifth Grade Teacher | Employer: Don R. Roberts Elementary School in Little Rock | Age: 23 | Hometown: Little Rock | Alma mater: Ouachita Baptist University | Degree: Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education


How did you know you wanted to be a teacher?

When I was young, I had a lot of teachers and other adults invest a lot of time developing my knowledge and character. Because of their investment in me, I knew I wanted to pay that forward and work with students in some way. After an internship at Don R. Roberts Elementary School when I was a junior in high school, I fell in love with teaching.

What classes at OBU made an impact on your teaching style today?

Classes that stood out to me were Learning Theory & Assessment and Teaching Exceptional Learners. The first class taught me all about how children learn, how to help them build skills, and how to make class assessments meaningful. The latter taught me all about teaching students with exceptional needs. Learning strategies to make a difference in the lives of all students has been invaluable, even in my first year.

What do you love most about your job?

The thing that I love most is the ability to make a difference in the life of a student by forming a significant relationship with them. I've had some students confess that other teachers have never taken a personal interest in them. Showing them that I care and seeing the difference it makes in their attitude and academics is what I live for!

What’s something that people might find surprising about teaching?

One thing that I think most people would find surprising about this field is how many different needs you become aware of in your students. So many students have something extremely challenging going on in their personal lives. Every student has a story.

What advice do you have for someone considering a career in education?

My advice is to be constantly learning and trying new things. My principal often says, "fail forward." It's OK to take risks and make mistakes, as long as you learn from them and are constantly trying to improve yourself. This is a mindset I try to take into my classroom every day.


The job outlook for elementary education teachers is bright. In fact, there’s a 9% projected increase in the field from 2016 to 2026, which means more jobs at schools across the state.*

Most schools require elementary education teachers to complete their bachelor's degree in elementary education and an internship in an elementary school classroom.

After that, you must take your state’s licensing exam for elementary school teachers and apply for a license through your state board of education.

The average annual wage for an elementary education teacher is $47,300.*

"Being an educator has a lot of rewards. Most of all, I cherish the moments when a student or a parent thanks me for the difference I have made to them."

– Wesley


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