A minister and educator, Keith Alan Mayes stays busy helping the people of Grundy County. We recently caught up with him at the Adult Education Center in Tracy City where he leads several programs including GED classes.
Mayes says he was born and raised in Tracy City to Glenn and Maxine Mayes. He attended Tracy city Elementary School and played on the basketball team. He is a 1990 graduate of Grundy County High School where he was a member of the Beta Club.
“One of my most inspirational teachers was John Nixon who taught geography. He inspired me to continue my studies in that field.
“After graduating from GCHS, I went to MTSU, eventually earning my degree in secondary education with an emphasis in geography. I knew I wanted to teach; except for my father, everyone in my family is a teacher.
“However, after a time at MTSU, I meandered around for a while, dropping out and holding several jobs. I finally realized that working two jobs, twelve-hour shifts, at two competing carpet mills was not getting me anywhere. I knew I had a brain and I was going to use it. I went back to school and earned my degree.”
Upon completing his degree, Mayes was hired by the Methodist Church in Tracy City to work in their Families First program.
“The Families First program was a great resource for the community. It was a state program that took anyone on food stamps and taught GED classes. I was there for one and one-half years before the school system took over the program.
“I moved on to the school system at the same time, working with Margaret Beaumont, the program’s supervisor. She retired last year and I moved into her job.
“We were originally located in a portable at Coalmont Elementary School. After a year or two, we moved to our current location at the old high school.
“We have several programs. First, we help high school dropouts get their GED. We also have the JTG/WIA program that targets at risk youth and dropouts. This can include special education students and others who meet the income guidelines. Basically, we take kids with no resources, the ones that need an extra push, and help them get a diploma or GED and teach them soft skills such as social skills, and other skills they will need in the workplace.
“I also teach GED classes at the Grundy County Jail. I have done it for about 5 years, with a break in between when there was no money to fund the course. But, we started back this year.”
Mayes is married to Kimberly Campbell, who works at the Fruit Stand in Tracy City. They attend the Central Church of Christ, where he is the minister. He has led the Sunday morning service at the Tracy City church for three years.
In his free time, Mayes likes to spend time outdoors, camping and farming. In addition, he tutors seventh and eighth graders in math.
“I have a heart for helping people. One of mother’s favorite stories is about when I was six years old and told her I wanted to be social worker because ‘I want to get involved, mother.’
“One thing about my job, there is a satisfaction knowing you have helped not just a person, but a whole family. I would give you the shirt off my back if you needed it. Anything extra, I’ll give it back to the community.