Education and Arts Experience

Early Years

Before Keri ever graduated from Cal State University at Long Beach, in 1973, she taught Spanish and music in two private schools in the Los Angeles area. In order to provide good child care and a quality preschool education to her son, Chris, while she was a junior in college, she traded out her skills with a Montessori Preschool near CSULB. Before she would attend her classes, she would arrive with her son at the preschool, spend 45 minutes with a large group of kids in the morning where she would teach the alphabet using fun games and puppetry, tie in a fun Spanish lesson and then end each segment with a few songs on the guitar. This was her first official teaching gig and she loved it.

This inspired her to want to teach elsewhere. Her senior year in college, she found a position teaching Spanish at a school called Pilgrim Presbyterian Private Academy in West LA. Because she was faculty, her son was permitted to attend the preschool at no cost. Monday thru Friday, she and Chris would drive to work and to school. During the long drive, she would sing and chat with her son. These were some of her happiest memories. After work, she would attend night classes where she earned her bachelors in English in 1973.

A few days before she graduated from CSULB, she answered an ad in the LA times for a writer to create ads and copy for a two radio firm, Standard Communications. She was hired and then promoted to advertising coordinator. She was responsible for creating ads, acting as a liaison between the ad agency, editing and proofing brown lines, placing ads in appropriate trade magazines and journals, and setting up trade shows in Mexico and South America to promote the company's product. Standard Communication sent her to The American Institute of Marketing and Advertising, an affiliate school of UCLA, where she learned the tricks of the trade and excelled as a junior executive; however, her heart was in education and the arts.

She worked for Standard Communication from 1973-76 and enrolled back into CSULB part time where she earned her California Teaching Credential. Teaching school would afford her the time to write during the summer. She found her first teaching position near her hometown of Bakersfield.

Public School Career

Her first experience as a public school teacher was at Arvin High School where many Mexican migrant students attended. Because she could speak and read Spanish fluently, she taught English as a second language to some of the migrant students, language arts, literature and drill team there for three years; thereafter, she to transferred to Vista East Continuation High School, an alternative school for students at risk where she taught English and drama for three years. Because of poor air quality in her hometown of Bakersfield, Keri decided to move in 1981 to the Gulf of Mexico on Florida's coast so fresh air and a new start in life were available.

She took a few years off from teaching so that she would have time to write and spend with her baby daughter, Heather. To provide income Keri attended real estate school and passed the Florida Real Estate exam. She did very well specializing in water front property; however, this was even more time consuming than teaching. She stayed in Real Estate from 1981-84 and then was hired as an English teacher at Pine Forest High School in Pensacola, Florida.

Teaching five classes of 9th grade English on a cart was not an ideal situation. Because the school had more kids than classrooms, Keri was required to change classrooms five times a day with all of her supplies on an audio visual cart. After one semester and a bad divorce, she had had enough. She gave her notice and moved to Canada to pursue a career as a children's educational entertainer.

Oh Canada!

Living in Canada with a six year old daughter and beginning a new career was an exciting idea to Keri. She had refined her preschool act, polished her teaching skills and was ready for a new venture. She put a kid's band together, rehearsed the material and then found an agent. Before long, the phone was ringing with venues at festivals, libraries, schools, art centers, conventions and art walks. She lived in Canada for four years. While living near Toronto, Canada, Keri was a private voice and music teacher as well. At age 10, her daughter won first place in the Ontario Open Singing Contest and third place at The Canadian Open in her age division. Two more of her students,12 year old Chantell Mackie won first place in the Canadian Open and 15 year old Amy Churm won fourth place at the Ontario Open. Her reputation as a teacher of voice and original sounding artists made her a contender in artist development.

While conducting a workshop for teachers on how to incorporate the arts into academics, she was approached by a participant who invited her to Long Island, New York to meet the art director and curator of Great Neck House to discuss the idea of writing and producing an original musical theater piece there. Keri was delighted! She and her daughter moved to New York.

New York, New York!

New York was fun but also an expensive place to live. For a short time, Keri sublet one of her friend's flat in Manhattan. When school began, she moved to Great Neck on Long Island and enrolled her daughter in a safe school district. Monday thru Friday, she would drop Heather off at school, head to the library at 8:30 a.m. and research and work on her play, Black Mayo and precisely at 2:00 p.m. she would leave the library, pick up her daughter and take her to either her ballet, tap or jazz class. She earned a meager living by entertaining in preschools, libraries, a little pay and tips from performing folk songs in Greenwich Village, and what Great Neck House was paying her to conduct the children's musical theater. Living in New York and trying to write and support a 10 year old daughter was a rough road. Black Mayo was a great success and Keri loved every minute of it; however, raising her daughter in a more serene situation on the Gulf of Mexico seemed to be the best solution for both of them. So, they moved back to Innerarity Point on the Gulf of Mexico where the air was clean and the environment less hectic, and began the next facet of her life, creating a new genre of music and artist development in 1990.

Gulf of Mexico

Until Keri procured a full time teaching position, she had a part time job as a waitress in a cafe where she also sang her original music. From time to time, she would substitute teach in various schools in order to supplement her income. Continuing to compose, arrange and produce works of art, she opened a recording studio, established Singers n' Songwriters Publishing affiliated with BMI and began to write prolifically and develop artists. To keep the cash flowing, she took a job at Robertsdale High School in Alabama near the Florabama line.

Teaching at RHS from 1994-2004 was one of the most challenging teaching assignments Keri has ever tackled. Required to teach students whose reading and writing scores were far below the national level, she has had very little time to write except for the summer. She has taken a leave of absence and plans to use all of her time for art projects.

She's putting public schools in the past and plans to open a private learning academy where the "E" in education and "L" in learning are facilitated by the arts. In conjunction with the academy, there will be a summer theater musical program in Southern Oregon that focuses on environmental education and teaches students to revere and respect the wildlife and old growth in our National Forests.

Also involved in the healing arts, Keri is a shamanic practitioner who teaches people how to use the arts for spiritual enrichment, therapy and positive social, political and environmental change.