Barrington 220 Staff Profile: Kelly Key how barrington 220 assistive technology coordinator & special services facilitator kelly key gives students a voice and purpose through technology

The look on a student’s face when Kelly Key enters the room is of absolute joy. The feeling is reciprocal—as a longtime Barrington 220 special education teacher turned administrator, her life’s passion is helping students. Her heart for special education began at an early age and she eventually made a career out of it.

Kelly Key works with a student at the Barrington Early Learning Center. Key has equipped this student with a communications system on his iPad to help him communicate.

“I started babysitting when I was 11 for a little girl who was diagnosed with Rett Syndrome. Whenever I would babysit for her, everyone would talk about her deficits and I was completely the opposite. I always found what she could do and did everything I could to encourage her and help her communicate,” Key said.

Key followed her passion to help special needs children by completing her undergraduate studies at Northern Illinois University in special education with an endorsement in early childhood special education. Her first job out of college was at a special needs preschool in Gages Lake.

Kelly Key at her graduation from Northern Illinois University. Key was selected as the commencement speaker for the college of education.

“It was awesome, it was the most amazing job ever. I felt like the students accomplished so much in the short amount of time that I had them,” she said.

It was during this point in her career that Key decided to focus on assistive technology (AT) as a means to help students communicate and participate in the curriculum regardless of their abilities.

Key was hired in Barrington 220 as a special education teacher at Barbara B. Rose Elementary School and later at Countryside Elementary School. Her leadership and AT skills quickly advanced her to an administrative position within the school district. She has held leadership roles as a Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA) serving as the Assistant Principal at Woodland Early Learning Center, and now holds the position of Assistive Technology Coordinator and Special Services Facilitator. In addition to her AT responsibilities, Key also supervises two life skills classrooms, facilitates the full-instructional classroom teachers’ monthly meetings and consults with special education teachers district-wide on a variety of topics.

Kelly Key visits with a group of educators from Canada, explaining how core vocabulary and assistive technology are used at the Barrington Early Learning Center.

Early Learning Center teacher Lorie Riess uses core vocabulary with a student.

A student's iPad includes assistive technology.

Kelly Key with the group of Canadian educators who came to observe her in action at the Barrington Early Learning Center. Key also provides assistive technology help to students who attend all schools in Barrington 220.

With guidance and leadership from Kelly Key, teacher Jennifer Schaap works with core vocabulary and assistive technology in her classroom.

A student at the Early Learning Center communicates with his iPad and core vocabulary.

“Some of our students just have so much inside and so much to say and share with the world. AT gives them the supports to communicate, share, comment and participate when they otherwise would not be able to,” Key said.

Barrington High School student Danny Pop speaks with help from assistive technology.

When she’s not working in Barrington 220, Key enjoys spending time with her husband and two daughters. She is also loves presenting and is frequently called upon to share her expertise in assistive technology with organizations across the country.

Kelly Key's family includes her husband and daughters, ages 8 and 10.

“My family tends to be my guinea pigs for a lot of things. I’ve used a lot of the AT programs and tools with them to learn how it works, and they absolutely love it,” she said.

No matter how busy her daily schedule is, Key is known across Barrington 220 for her positive attitude and love for teaching.

Key is a frequent presenter at state and national conferences.

“My mission is to make students as independent as possible, regardless of what level they’re at,” she said. “I want them to know that I will always do anything I can to ensure their well-being and success.”

Kelly Key, Barrington 220 Assistive Technology Coordinator and Special Services Facilitator
Created By
Morgan Delack

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