Ballard selected LHHS Teacher of the Year
By Scott Akanewich
Thirty-four years ago, Tammy Ballard had a decision to make.
What would she choose as a profession?
Ballard decided to pursue a career in education and it has turned out to be a blessing not only for thousands of students who have frequented her classrooms over the years, but has also provided a great deal of personal gratification.
“I enjoy working with kids and I knew I wanted to help students learn, grow and gain confidence,” said Ballard. “I felt it would be a fulfilling career to guide young people to become confident adults. I was right – it has been the very best decision I have made in my life.”
For her continuing educational efforts, Ballard has been named Liberty Hill High School Teacher of the Year.
According to Ballard, the honor is much more than an individual award.
“I am humbled by such an honor,” said Ballard, who has taught in Liberty Hill for 21 years. “I feel privileged to watch these kids grow into their potential as they learn to speak in front of me, their peers and other adults. This is an honor I share with them and with my fellow teachers. I am inspired every day by my students and my peers.”
Ballard currently teaches Professional Communications, a subject that enables her to give her students a gift that will enhance their lives long after their classroom days are done.
“What I teach allows me a unique opportunity to get to know students as they work towards their personal goals in communication,” she said. “This is a course that benefits all students in their lives after high school, in college, career and community service. I love seeing them grow into young adults while they learn about a wide variety of important subjects.”
Students are students, says Ballard, and have the same needs regardless of how old they may be.
“I’ve taught middle school and high school, so I can only speak to those two levels,” she said. “But, I think connections with children across the board is what great teachers do and what all children need, whether they’re four-year olds counting on their fingers or high school seniors speaking confidently in front of judges at a UIL state competition.”
However, the learning environment has changed significantly over the course of her career, she said.
“The classroom has changed tremendously. From teaching styles, to assessments, to technology, to evaluations – I have evolved as a teacher as well as the profession keeps evolving,” said Ballard. “What has remained constant is my desire to give students the best of my time, my expertise and my support as a fellow learner and mentor.”
Ballard added if there is a single moment that encompasses both the professional highs and emotional lows a teacher experiences, it’s when each of her students walks across a stage and is handed a diploma.
“The best and worst things about being a teacher are the same – watching students graduate,” she said. “The best aspect is saying goodbye and watching them graduate and go into the world as young adults and the worst aspect is saying goodbye and watching them leave, knowing how much I will miss them.”
So, what kind of advice would she give to one of her students who is considering going down the same career path she chose all those years ago?
“Education is a lot of hard work and an ever-changing business – be flexible. Understand teaching is the most rewarding and taxing career you will ever have,” said Ballard. “You must be passionate about the work and your subject and you must be prepared every single day.”