Dr. Elizabeth Betsy Ballard taught English, debate and competitive acting before she retired in May after 36 years at Norman High School.
During her tenure at NHS, Dr. Ballard was named the Norman Public Schools Teacher of the Year, was recognized as a Distinguished Teacher by the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars, and received numerous state, regional, and national awards for excellence in speech and drama education. Dr. Ballard received National Board Certification in 2002 and is the 2012 winner of the Medal of Excellence in Secondary Teaching from the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence.
She said she has learned over time that the best gift teachers can give students is to “open the doors … and get out of the way as students step forward on their own journeys.”
To that end, Ballard incorporated more student-led learning projects into her curricula. In her advanced Aegis English classes, juniors write original one-act plays, some of which are now directed and produced on stage by fellow students. She advises debate students as they set up their own in-class mini-tournaments, encouraging them to critique each other and help others develop their best arguments and speaking styles.
“Dr. Ballard created a classroom environment where the norm was wicked intelligence, where the drive to get better was instilled in very real, creative ways,” said Sara Doolittle, a former student of “Doc” Ballard’s, who now teaches the Norman High Aegis English class that Ballard developed. “As her students, we were pushed to our capacity but loved that someone trusted us and valued our opinions.”
Dr. Ballard will serve as a teacher resource and mentor for the educators who will be teaching the novel Old School to their students as part of the 2013 The Big Read of the Pioneer Library System.
This fall, Dr. Ballard will conduct an in-service teacher training at the nearest PLS home town library to participating teachers. The session will introduce the lessons prepared by the National Endowment for the Arts and Ballard will discuss ways to customize the instruction to meet the specific needs and goals of each student and teacher.
The teacher workshops will be scheduled at times and locations appropriate and convenient for the participating teachers following the October 19 deadline for registration to participate as a teacher in the 2013 The Big Read. Documentation for CEUs will be provided.