Ballard has desire as SLP to help students

Published 7:01 pm Monday, February 18, 2019

Part of an ongoing series featuring the teachers nominated for Vicksburg-Warren County Chamber of Commerce’s Teacher of the Year honors.

Elizabeth Ballard decided to become a speech-language pathologist because she has a desire to see all children and adolescents communicate to their full potential.

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“Speaking and listening are vital parts of each student’s overall school experience,” Ballard said. “I chose to become an SLP because I found the practical application of the skills I was learning in undergraduate and graduate school to be fascinating. There were so many life-changing moments that I witnessed as I participated in different practicum sites. The most joyous ones were typically with the pediatric population, which made me gravitate towards a school setting. The small therapy setting allows me to get to know each student on a personal level.”

Ballard, a University of Southern Mississippi and Mississippi College graduate, has been working with students for 27 years in the Vicksburg Warren School District and said there are so many things she enjoys about working in the VWSD — the relationships she’s built over the years with colleagues.

“But by far the thing that I enjoy most are the special days when my students ‘graduate’ from therapy,” Ballard said. “My students’ needs vary greatly; some students I may work with a few months, other students and I work together for years, depending on the type and severity level of their communication differences. It is gratifying both to me as their therapist as well as the student, their family, and their teacher to know that we have accomplished their goals.”

Ballard, a nominee for the Vicksburg-Warren County Chamber of Commerce’s Elementary Teacher of the Year, is an SLP at both Bovina and South Park.

Ballard, who is the Teacher of the Year from Bovina, is thrilled to watch as a student progresses in developing speech and language skills.

“It is amazing in many instances to see where the student started and the many skill sets they learned during therapy,” Ballard said. “Brian Tracy, a motivational speaker, has said, ‘Communication is a skill that you can learn. It’s like riding a bicycle or typing. If you are willing to work at it, you can rapidly improve the quality of every part of your life.’ I believe this is true for children as well and I love watching my students’ quality of life improve as they learn to be more effective communicators in the school and home environments.”

Ballard said she was excited and surprised after learning she had been chosen Teacher of the Year by her peers at Bovina.

“As all of the nominees have stated in their interviews, it is very humbling (and for me, surprising) to be nominated for this honor by my peers,” Ballard said. “Bovina Elementary has a truly wonderful staff who have won many awards individually and collectively. I have worked at many different schools during my career, and the entire staff at Bovina knows and practice synergizing daily. They work many long hours throughout the summer and after school hours planning and executing the best educational experience for every child.”

The Vicksburg-Warren County Chamber of Commerce will choose one elementary and one secondary teacher of the year at the chamber luncheon Feb. 20. The winner of each award will receive $1,000 from Ameristar Casino and the runner-up for each award will receive $500 from Mutual Credit Union.

Ballard said being chosen Teacher of the Year at Bovina and a nominee for the overall Teacher of the Year award “has allowed me to reflect on my career as a SLP in the public schools.”

“I am thankful for the opportunities for continuing education that the district has made available to me and the opportunity to implement new strategies and techniques with my students,” Ballard said. “I would like to continue encouraging students and families with special needs to reach their potential and encourage other SLPs to consider offering their services to our students in VWSD.”