As the very first donor to the "school within a school" concept for Key School at Carolina Day, Adelaide Key took the lead in making it possible to create a model school for bright students with language-based learning differences. Key’s passion, vision, heart, and generosity led to the founding of Key School. She had the means to turn a “seed of an idea” into a reality that has touched the lives of so many children, teachers, and families. Key died Wednesday at her home after a two-year battle with cancer. She was 78 years old.
Quoted from a 2010 video produced by Irene Wortham Center, she said," When I was a kid I had trouble in school." Adelaide suffered from undiagnosed dyslexia and always felt she was "just not smart enough." "It's something they cannot help, and you can learn to live with it. So I started the Key School. And I am proud of it," said Key.
Adelaide wanted to equip as many children as possible with the tools to succeed in school. When Key School was founded 18 years ago, there were 12 students. "Now there are 85, with many more hoping for spots," said Diane Milner, Key School Principal. In addition to Key School, Key Learning Center has evolved into a community outreach program that has served to educate our community about the impact of dyslexia on an individual’s life. Key Learning Center has trained more than 500 teachers in the Orton-Gillingham multisensory teaching approach, hosted more than 50 Saturday Seminars to help educate our community and give family support, and has committed to serving our community in understanding dyslexia.
Concha Wyatt, Key School's director of teacher training, says she is awed by the passion and commitment of teachers who are seeking tools and the knowledge base to reach those students who are bright but still struggling. Key School has mentored many other schools and supported their development of a program for bright children who learn differently. At our most recent summer training, teachers came from from six states to seek instruction in our specialized teaching approach.
"Adelaide's vision was for us to serve as a model school reaching far beyond the four walls of our campus," said Milner. Key Learning Center, a nationally accredited Orton-Gillingham and IMSLEC teaching center, takes the program to public schools, parents, and professionals in the language-based learning difference community. "Her gift has touched tens of thousands of children by now," said Milner.
Watch the tribute to Adelaide Key's legacy by WLOS News 13: