A Fading Coal County Bets on Schools, But There’s One Big Hitch
Photo: Mike Belleme
Eduardo Porter, The New York Times
Lillian Keys did something rare among her peers: She came back. After receiving her bachelor’s degree from Concord University in Athens, West Virginia, the 24-year-old English teacher returned home to Welch to teach at Mount View High School, from which she graduated in 2014.
Keys is on the front line of an unusual strategy to restore promise to this corner of coal country, laid low by the long, inexorable decline of the mining industry upon which it built its fortune. A fourth- or fifth-generation native of the hollows of Appalachia, living in her grandparents’ former home, she embodies the idea of education as a bridge to a more promising future.