Department of Defense Education Activity’s vision is to be among the world's leaders in education, enriching the lives of military-connected students and the communities in which they live. Kara Ball, a fourth through fifth grade teacher at DeLalio Elementary School on Marine Corps Air Station New River has exemplified that vision and has been dubbed the DoDEA State Teacher of the Year and is currently a finalist for the title of National Teacher of the Year.
“I was selected in May of 2017, but my year works in calendar years so I began acting in that position (DoDEA State Teacher of the Year) in January of 2018,” said Ball. “It comes with a sabbatical for half of the school year, so for the first half of the school year I taught as a regular classroom teacher and got to work under the wing of the 2017 State Teacher of the Year. When January began, I began my sabbatical.”
During the sabbatical, Ball will spend a year away from her teaching duties to serve as a spokeswoman and advocate for the teaching profession across the nation.
“Teachers’ voices aren’t so often a part of the conversation and the Council of Chief State School Officers does a great job of giving us this opportunity to elevate our voices,” said Ball. “Which has been one of the best experiences about being a State Teacher of the Year. Being able to talk about (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education and share what my students are doing.”
Wyonia Chevis, the principal of DeLalio Elementary School believes Ball can make a difference while on sabbatical.
“Ms. Ball is a team player, very cooperative, and a master teacher,” said Chevis. “She is motivated, qualified, and has the ability and drive to help and support teachers across the nation.”
Although grateful for the opportunity to speak on behalf of teachers, Ball misses teaching already.
“I have had the opportunity to be out of the classroom for the past two months and I miss the kids,” said Ball. “I miss being in the room.”
Those who work with Ball agree that she has earned the title of DoDEA State Teacher of the Year.
“Ms. Ball has many talents and is able to envision the whole-picture of teaching and learning including the goals, objectives, and data needed for a successful outcome by all students,” said Chevis. “She has outstanding professional judgment, is very knowledgeable, a great problem-solver, believes in rigor, and thrives on producing quality work. She relates her teaching and learning to the new era, 21st Century learning.”
Teaching has been part of Ball’s life for more than two and a half decades.
“I teach because my grandmother inspired me to be a teacher,” said Ball. “She was an elementary teacher and I remember spending breaks going into her classrooms and helping her organize or clean. At the age of seven, she gave me a pretend classroom in a box and I would use that box every summer to teach my younger siblings. Whatever I had learned that school year, I would teach them about in the basement of my childhood home.”
When anyone asks Ball how long she has been teaching, she replies with 26 years.
“I’ve only been certified for 10 years, but that summer is when I became a teacher,” said Ball.
The 2018 National Teacher of the Year will be selected this spring.
“Ms. Ball has earned this honor,” said Chevis. “I have been in education for many years and it is with pride that I say, Ms. Ball is one of the most energetic and challenging employees. She develops, enriches and challenges educators and paraprofessionals as well as all students in the teaching and learning process.”